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CurtainUp DC Review
Moscow, A Musical Play
by Rich See
This, by the way, is part of the Actors' Theatre of Washington's outreach arm -- atwOUT! -- which nurtures and concentrates on new gay and lesbian works. Moscow is their first full-scale production of a piece and as such it is still a work in progress. While Salamone could tinker with the piece further, the play has something in it -- kind of like a diamond in the rough -- and the music, as well as the singing, is quite lovely. The songs are complex and lengthy arrangements that contain much of the character development. And while these may be a singer's dream, for the audience to maintain concentration, an intermission to regroup and refresh would be a good addition.
In his first solo role as director, Matty Griffiths shows a subtle hand of guiding his cast. The pacing of the show is leisurely and allows you to connect to the actors. Knowing Chekhov's work is not necessarily a requirement. While it might make connecting the allusions to Three Sisters more immediate, Moscow also stands on its own. There is a gentleness among the cast which is most appealing and the use of the theatrical space pulls the audience into the work. ATW is using the Clark Street Playhouse, so much of the set that is present is actually from a Tennessee Williams' production that is running simultaneously.
Musical Director Tom Liddle has developed a lush, complex sound from a small piano, violin, flute ensemble. The live music, inconspicuously placed behind a scrim, fills the cavernous Clark Street Playhouse's inherent acoustics.
As Jon the playwright, who takes on the role of Olga (the oldest sister), is Steve Lebens. He gives us a world weary gay man who has seen many lovers and friends pass away from AIDS. He imbues Jon with a wry sense of humor, who is afraid of loving, and even hoping, as he notes: "My salad days are over. Hell! My meat and potato days are over." Far from over, he eventually falls for Michael Fizdale's street-wise hustler Luke, not in a salacious way, but in a seemingly truly caring manner. Mr. Fizdale, for his part, is the voice of agitated impatience and the youngest sister Irina. Constantly demanding to know if the trio is alive or dead and why they are trapped in the abandoned theatre, he presents the young man's need to be loved and approved of in a compelling manner. As Matt, Dallas Miller is quite stirring when he talks about his family situation and the sexual abuse he endured for many years. Like the middle sister Masha, Matt is the glue who is holding the trio together. Mr. Miller does a great job as the pining and romantic man waiting for his prince charming to come along.
All in all, Moscow is an interesting work by a theatre dedicated to keeping gay and lesbian issues at the forefront of its mission. Definitely not your usual musical, it is at least one with a gay face that poses universal questions about love, loss, and redemption through courage. The performances are on off evenings, Sundays through Wednesdays, so it makes a great Monday night date. Additionally, Tuesday evening performances are followed by a question and answer session with the director and cast.
Easy-on-the budget super gift for yourself and your musical loving friends. Tons of gorgeous pictures.
Retold by Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Co.
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At This Theater
Leonard Maltin's 2005 Movie Guide
Ridiculous!The Theatrical Life & Times of Charles Ludlam
6, 500 Comparative Phrases including 800 Shakespearean Metaphors by CurtainUp's editor.
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