BWW Review: IM WEISSEN RÖSSL (THE WHITE HORSE INN) at Renaissance Theater Berlin - The audience was happy, this critic, not so much.

BWW Review: IM WEISSEN RÖSSL (THE WHITE HORSE INN) at Renaissance Theater Berlin - The audience was happy, this critic, not so much.

The Singspiel, like the operetta, are precursors to the modern musical, where spoken dialogue is interspersed with musical numbers. IM WEIßEN RÖSSL (THE WHITE HORSE INN) boasts a simple love story and very good, memorable melodies from Ralph Benatzky, Robert Stolz, Robert Gilbert and Bruno Granischstaedten. These are the foundation that has turned IM WEIßEN RÖSSL into the most-produced musical work of all time. In the right hands and with the right cast, this show can be both entertaining and charming. To be fair, the Berlin audience thoroughly enjoyed this production, this critic, not so much.

For the first time in many, many years, I witnessed a musical that was performed acoustically. Neither the cast nor the musicians were amplified. The five-man band was onstage dispersed among the actors, occasionally interacting with them, which was a lovely touch. The evening started most promisingly, with the entire cast singing a gorgeous a capella number in perfect harmony. However, almost nothing that followed lived up to the promise of the opening number.

If you're going to produce music-theater in a house with 565 seats without amplification, you need to hire performers who have the vocal ability and technique to sing acoustically. With the exception of Angelika Milster and Andreas Bieber, none of this cast was up to the task at hand. Ms. Milster, a veteran musical performer in German-speaking Europe, played Fraulein Weghalter and infused her every moment onstage with an intensity, comic manner and stage presence that was sorely lacking in many of her colleagues. Her singing was one of the highlights of the evening, and one wished she had been playing a much larger role in this production. Mr. Bieber's excellent singing and comic abilities were shown to great effect as Leopold Brandmeyer, the head waiter of the White Horse Inn. The remainder of the performers were often difficult to hear, and very difficult to understand, even with the reduced, acoustic orchestration. All that to say, the casting left much to be desired.

BWW Review: IM WEISSEN RÖSSL (THE WHITE HORSE INN) at Renaissance Theater Berlin - The audience was happy, this critic, not so much.

The set and traditional costumes by Herbert Schäfer and Vasilis Triantafillopoulos were attractive and functional, if not imaginative. As seems to be the rule in the Renaissance Theater, the lighting design was rudimentary and often very uncomplimentary to the actors onstage. Karl Alfred Schreiner's choreography was to the point and showed the performers to good effect

As is the fashion in Berlin, director Thorsten Fischer chose to "update" this production and included a few characters in modern, unattractive costumes with cell phones, bicycles, expandable tents, gratuitous nudity and a few other unnecessary touches thrown in for good measure. The modernization was half-hearted, and added nothing to the production and, for this reviewer's taste, undermined the romance and charm of many of the musical numbers.

BWW Review: IM WEISSEN RÖSSL (THE WHITE HORSE INN) at Renaissance Theater Berlin - The audience was happy, this critic, not so much.The humor of IM WEIßEN RÖSSL is based on the "fish out of water" conceit of a gruff Berlin Industrialist on vacation in the countryside of Austria and the Culture Clash that should ensue. The Berlin Industrialist (a non-singing role) was played with great charm, excellent timing, and charisma by TV-Star, Boris Aljinovic. While The White Horse Inn is supposed to be in St. Wolfgang in Austria's Salzkammergut, none of the "Austrians" in this production (with the exception of Ms. Milster) had or even attempted a credible Austrian accent.

Performances of IM WEIßEN RÖSSL conclude on August 5th.

All Photos ©Barbara Braun /drama- berlin.de



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