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A CurtainUp Berkshire Review
Ludwig Live!

It's witty. . .it's all about me!— Charles Lindberg, introducing himself as Ludwig van Beethoven

Be our our guest— Seven Hills Innkeeper Robin Gerson Wong, trotting out her pre-innkeeping performance skills for an ode to the Berkshires and barely disguised ad for her Inn.
Ludwig Live!
Charles Lindberg as Beethoven and Katherine Pecevich in one of numerous roles
(Photo: Stephen Schwartz)
Charles Lindberg plays the title character in the cabaret created and directed by Nancy Holson especially for elegantly restored Seven Hills Inn on Plunkett Street in Lenox. And while this vaudevillian entertainment sets out to live up to that above quoted lyric, its wit is less attributable to Lindberg's Beethoven, than Katherine Pecevich who plays the Stage Manager as well as all the characters in this comical romp through the composer's life — from his mother, to his fellow musical greats as well as a dozen or so others who take this bio-revue into the present. Not that Lindberg isn't an excellent pianist — he is. However, this stage manager who changes personas with a lightning fast flip of a wig or costume manages to make the show all about her, relegating Lindberg to the role of her accompanyist.

Ludwig Live! is a sure-fire title to lure this area's many classical music loving audiences away from Tanglewood long enough to enjoy a cabaret experience that seems custom-made for them. Nancy Holson, whose The News in Revue > has been a hit in the Berkshires and throughout the country and Emmy Award winning TV specials, certainly has the credentials to make the conceit of a cabaret about Beethoven work. Unfortunately, trying to incorporate elements of The News in Revue's topical satire into Ludwig Live! is too much of a stretch. The ties to the established hit are not a comfortable fit and end up making Ludwig Live! top-heavy with sophomoric shtick.

It isn't until well into the first act, when Percevich assumes her role as Papa Haydn, that Ludwig's vaudevillian saga starts to actually come alive. But what is gained from the roller coaster impersonations, greatly enhanced the wigs and costumes (the former designed by Percevich herself, the latter by Ramsey Scott), loses steam with two misconceived gimmicks for the beginning of the second act.

Gimmick #1 is a medley of songs ("Welcome to the Berkshires") delivered by co-innkeeper Robin Gerson Wong. She's a charmer and sings quite well but this ode to the Berkshires and thinly disguised ad for the Inn that she and her husband Denis Wong have admirably brought back to its original Gilded Cottage splendor. The trouble is that this number has no connection whatever to the show. Maybe Ms. Wong could expand this misplaced number into a cabaret of her own for the one night Ludwig Live! isn't on.

Gimmick #2, and this one is even more of a misfit, is an audience participation number that's lame and forced and not even fitfully funny. But hold on. These missteps are followed by a really terrific segment that illustrates what this cabaret could be with a little more work. That's when Lindberg and the talented Pecevich take us on a whirlwind tour of 200 years of musical history (" Music Through the Last 200 Years: a Retrospective"). Taking away those two unnecessary second act gimmicks, would streamline the present show's two hours to clock in at no more than 80 minutes without an intermission, would improve the overall tempo and give Ludwig Live! a better chance to make the most of everyone's talents. The audience could enjoy the goodies from Chocolate Springs after the show instead of before it opens and during intermission. (The chocolate mousse cake is delicious— but the refreshments are not included in the price of admission).

Ludwig Live!
Created and directedby Nancy Holson
Consulting Director: Jay Falzone
Cast: Starring Charles Lindberg as Beethoven, with Katherine Pecevich, and Robin Gerson Wong.
Vocal arrangements and musical direction: Charles Lindberg
Costumes: Ramsey Scott Wigs: Katherine Pecevich
Running Time: Approx 2 hours with an intermission
Seven Hills Inn Cabaret 40 Plunkett Street, Lenox, Mass
From 6/30/11 through 8/30/11
Performances every evening at 8:30 pm (except Wednesdays), with an additional 11:00 pm late-night performance on Saturdays. (Doors will open at 7:30 pm for pre-show cocktails and desserts.
Tickets at or atthe Seven Hills Inn front desk even Hills Inn $40 (the show does participate in the 1/2 TIX ticket booths).
Reviewed by Elyse Sommer at June 30th press opening
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