BWW Review: BARBER OF SEVILLE On the Cutting Edge at Classical Theatre Co.
THE BARBER OF SEVILLE (the eighteenth century play written by French native Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais, not Rossini's opera) makes for a charming spectacle at Classical Theatre Company (CTC).
Don't be fooled by the fact that THE BARBER OF SEVILLE was written over two hundred years ago. Don't think it's irrelevant. Don't even think it lacks substance. Because the Classical Theatre makes sure that theater-goers find delight and empathy with their revival of this most loved literary piece.
CTC Executive Artistic Director John Johnston directs a production that is true to the play's classic form yet entertaining and fit for the 21st century. THE BARBER OF SEVILLE starts before the curtains open. Actors Philip Hays (Count Almaviva) and Calvin Hudson (Figaro) quietly move through the theater and position themselves amongst the evening patrons as if they are patrons themselves. Then Hudson Lies atop an aisle bar to look up at the ceiling and you find out that these two period-dressed individuals are there to engage the audience. Even more so after Johnston finishes his pre-curtain speech. As soon as the director says, "Enjoy the show," Hays and Hudson begin talking to the audience. It is an unconventional, engaging way to open a show.
And as the story goes, Count Almaviva falls in love with the beautiful Rosine, played by Brittny Bush. For those unfamiliar with the character Rosine, she is the equivalent of Sleeping Beauty, Pocahontas, or Snow White. She is the leading lady that everyone wants to see win. Bush definitely wins. Not only was it refreshing to see a woman of color in the lead role of this French classic, but it was also completely awe inspiring to witness the many risks Bush takes during the production. The role calls for Bush to be the ultimate damsel in distress, but the actress adds dazzling poetic stage gestures, acrobatic and flirty in turn, to make Rosine her own.
Veteran actor Carl Masterson plays the great Doctor Bartholo, Rosine's intended husband. The tall, bearded, regal entertainer brings his easy bedside manner to the role - one that rivals the confidence and reassurance of a real-life doctor.
And still, the production has something even more real to life: humor. As Bazile, Rosine's top notch music teacher, A.D Players company actor Chip Simmons will have you laughing in your head and out loud as he puffs his way into your heart and through the show with his custom cigarette holder.
Actors Shanae'a Moore (Youth) and Kregg Dailey (Lively) provide an additional comic tease. The Youth, a notary, and Lively, an alcalde, are house servants hardly worth feeling sorry for. Moore and Dailey will have you gasping for air as they remain true to their stage addictions: tranquilizers and sneezing powder.
If you enjoy passionate acting, great directing and the thrill of surprise, THE BARBER OF SEVILLE is a must see. Don't worry about the period setting or vernacular. You will enjoy the masterful costuming from costume designer Macy Lyne, the graceful set from designers Carrie Lan (lighting), Ryan McGettigan (scenic) and Star Hinson (properties), and the modern choices from the director.
THE BARBER OF SEVILLE continues through April 23 at the Classical Theatre Company, 4617 Montrose. For information, please call 713-963-9665 or visit classicaltheatre.org.