BWW Review: ELISABETH IN CONCERT at Schönbrunn Palace
You can put on a revival of a hit show. You can add or cut songs, costumes or scenes. Some might love it, others might moan about it and some even don't care about it.
You can also do a semi staged concert version of the show. The Vereinigte Bühnen Wien brought ELISABETH, the musical about the Austrian Empress back home for a 2 night semi staged concert in front of the historical Palace Schönbrunn, once home of Elisabeth. Schönbrunn is a magical place. Hundreds of thousands of tourists are strolling through the picturesque gardens, enjoying the beauty of Schönbrunn.
The show, created by Sylvester Levay(Music) and Michael Kunze(Book and Lyrics) opened in 1992 with lousy critics. The audience felt in love with the tragical and touching story. The show became a hit in Vienna and all over the world. ELISABETH is now the most successful German speaking musical of all times. More than 11 million people have seen the show. It has something magical about, something, audiences want to experience all over again.
lt has been a magical night in front of Schönbrunn. Gil Mehmert (Director) staged the Concert in a dramatic way and got some unexpected surprises for the 11000 people in the audience. He created breathtaking, opulent pictures. Mehmert honored the original with a fresh and energetic version.
He has got some of the finest actors for this special occasion. Many of them have done the show before. Pia Douwes was the first to play ELISABETH back in 1992. She has played the part in numerous countries and languages. Who else might be a better fit for the part than the very first Elisabeth. If someone is able to deliver the part in front of a huge audience, it's her. Pia Douwes is able to bring every house down, when she is singing, your heart is melting away. The audience was waiting for Douwes „ Ich gehör nur mir", the shows #1 hit, when composer Sylvester Levay went on stage and took over the baton from MD Michael Römer. The whole place went silent. The genius, the creator of the song was ready to conduct the beautiful Orchestra of the Vereinigte Bühnen Wien and his Elisabeth, Pia Douwes.
Needless to say, that the whole area went absolutely crazy after the last and very high note of the song. Douwes always was, always is and always will be the one Elisabeth. She is able to add something special to her performance. Viktor Gernot (Emperor Franz Joseph) who also played his role at opening night in 1992, said good bye to Musical Theatre, some years ago. It might me a short but special comeback for a very special occasion. Seeing Douwes and Gernot recreating their parts, left many of us speechless and breathless in our seats. They might be far out of age for their parts but they know exactly what it takes to create something, nobody will ever forget.
Also familiar with her part was Daniela Ziegler as the Emperors evil mother Archduchess Sophia. It shivers down your spine when she is giving you her ice cold looks. That sort of mean and plotting mother in law, nobody is wishing for, not even for your worst enemies.
Mark Seibert ( The Death) has played his part on tour and in the last revival in Vienna. He is the charming, handsome, good looking but dangerous admirer, everybody might fall for. If only the director would left the whip out of his hand. Archduke Rudolf ( Lukas Perman with a once in a lifetime performance) wasn't really impressed by the whip cracking Death. You can dance with the Death or you can try to not get hit. The whole scene might have been better without the disturbing prob in the Deaths hand. As said before, Mehmert has done a great job anyway but when he is asking for a whip, just say no and everything will be fine.
New to the show was David Jakobs (Luigi Lucheni). He played Elisabeths assassin insanely passionate. A fresh face in the musical orbit. Let's keep that beautiful voice in Vienna and offer him something he can't refuse.
It takes a lot, to prepare and set up a musical concert in such a huge area. 22000 people on 2 nights sounds more like a rock concert than like a musical. Sometimes it has to be big, sometimes some self-adulation might be necessary to create special nights like these, nights to remember.
- Pia Douwes (Elisabeth)
- Viktor Gernot ( Franz-Joseph)
- Mark Seibert ( The Death)
- David Jakobs (Luigi Lucheni)
- Daniela Ziegler (Archduchess Sophie)
- Lukas Perman (Archduke Rudolf)
- Philipp Gruber-Hirschbrich/ Samuel Wegleitner (Young Rudolf)
- Hans Neblung (Duke Max from Bavaria)
- Patricia Nessy ( Duchess Ludovika)
Ensemble: Anja Backus, Patricia Nessy, Franziska Schuster, Melanie Stassen-Ordner, Steffi Irmen, Marle Martens, Charlotte Katzer, Denise Jastraunig, Eva Maria Bender, Stefan Tolnai, Ivo Giacomozzi, Martin Rönnebeck, Robert D. Marx, Wolfgang Türks, Andreas Nützt, Maximilian Vogel, Michael Souschek.
- Gil Mehmert Director
- Simon Eichenberger Musical Staging
- Musical Director Michael Römer
Tickets for 2020 are available on www.elisabeth-schoenbrunn.at