BWW Preview: Utah Rep to Stage AMADEUS, 9/11

Utah Repertory Theater Company announces its production of AMADEUS, one of the most acclaimed and popular productions of the 20th century.

AMADEUS combines intrigue, suspense, comedy, and passion with some of the most stirring music ever written, and Utah Rep's staging promises to be one of the most musical productions yet, explains the director, JC Carter.

"As the play feels like an opera in its writing, I'm introducing operatic elements, including live vocal music and bringing in both music and art from the era to help tell the tale," Carter said.

AMADEUS has been honored with five Tonys, eight Oscars, and extended London and Broadway runs. According to the New York Post, the stage version of "Amadeus" is "a total iridescent triumph ... of complexity of thought, emotion and dramatic power."

Carter notes that the 1984 film adaptation, largely a rewrite of the 1979 original Broadway production, included many excerpts from Mozart's compositions. The Utah Rep production is a staging of the 2000 Broadway revival version of the script, and he has opted to include music not ordinarily seen in theater productions.

"I have cast Natalie Easter, an opera singer, as Katherina Calvieri. Shaffer wrote Katherina as a silent part who would lip-synch her songs," Carter said. "Knowing the abundance of musical talent in Utah, I decided that it would be more interesting to have a live performer."

Unique for a stage drama, Carter is employing Anne Puzey as music director for the production of AMADEUS.

"Anne Puzey has tremendous experience as a music director for a wide variety of critically highly praised musicals across the Wasatch Front, and she was a natural choice," he said. "In addition, Anne has helped me navigate the music in the play and find the right pieces for the right moments."

Describing AMADEUS, written by acclaimed playwright Peter Shaffer ("Equus," "Five-Finger Exercise," "Dark Comedy"), Carter said: "This play is an exploration of our darkest thoughts and motivations. We think the play is about Mozart, because of its name, but this is a tale told by someone who envied Mozart's talent and was arrogant enough to believe that God was cheating him because he didn't possess the same talent. I think we can all relate to that envy when a skill or talent seems to come naturally to someone, when we ourselves have to work and work to achieve the same thing. In many ways, it's cathartic and is a reminder to appreciate what we have and support and celebrate those whom we perceive may initially appear to be better than us."

A stark variation from the movie version, "Amadeus" on stage is more clearly focused on the intense jealousy of Mozart's rival, Antonio Salieri, which makes the confrontations between Mozart and Salieri more intense and visceral.

"While there are multiple characters, AMADEUS can be seen as a one-man show with a supporting cast that includes one of the most famous composers of all time," Carter explained. "Salieri is our guide through his personal tale of deception and revenge, which is really a tragic tale of the one man who could appreciate Mozart's artistry when no one else at the time could."

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PERFORMANCE DATES: Friday, Sept. 11, at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, Sept. 12, 7:30 p.m.; Friday, Sept. 18, 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, Sept. 19, 7:30 p.m.; Sunday, Sept. 20, 3 p.m.; Friday, Sept. 25, 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, Sept. 26, 7:30 p.m.

PERFORMANCE VENUE: Sorenson Unity Center Black Box Theater, 1383 S. 900 West, Salt Lake City, UT 84104;

COST: $12-$15 in advance; $14-$17 at door.

THE STORY: What happens when mediocrity recognizes itself in the face of genius? Especially when genius comes in the form of a potty-mouthed former child prodigy? This is the challenge posed as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, perhaps the greatest composer of all time, who unknowingly becomes the battleground of envious court composer Antonio Salieri's strife with God. Salieri is overcome with jealousy at hearing the "voice of God" coming from an "obscene child" and sets out to destroy his rival.


JC CARTER (Director) JC has been directing and producing theatrical productions around Utah for more than 20 years. His most notable directing credits include "Grace," a Utah Rep/Around the Globe Theatre Company co-production; "Twelve Angry Men" for Sugar Factory Playhouse; "True West," "The Taming of the Shrew," and "The Spitfire Grill" for Wasatch Theatre Company; and "Bob Juan Casanova" and "Picasso at the Lapin Agile" for Around the Globe Theatre Company. In addition to directing, JC is also part of the Utah Rep Artistic Board and runs the website.

ANNE PUZEY (Music Director) Anne has previously been Music Director for Utah Rep's productions of "The Last 5 Years" and "Bare." She is also a part of the vocal coaching team from Audition Advantage. Anne has been making artistic contributions to dozens of shows and a number of local theater companies. In addition to Utah Rep, she is a regular staff member with Hale Centre Theatre West Valley, The Egyptian in Park City, Silver Summit, and the Ziegfeld Theatre, among others. She conducts workshops for Utah Theatre Association and is currently helping to establish a new actors' organization to help all performers have a place to meet, grow their skills, and learn about all the new opportunities in Utah musical theater.

ROGER DUNBAR (Antonio Salieri) Roger is thrilled to be a part of "Amadeus," his first show with Utah Rep. Recent productions in the Salt Lake Valley include "The Comedy of Errors," "Boeing Boeing," "Betrayal" (Pinnacle Acting Company), "Hedda Gabler," "The Winter's Tale," "Waiting for Godot" (Sting & Honey), "The Philadelphia Story" (Pioneer Theatre), and "The 39 Steps" (Sandy Arts). Other past favorite roles include Elwood P. Dowd in "Harvey" (Neil Simon Festival), Don Quixote in "The Man of La Mancha," and Harold Hill in "The Music Man" (St. George Musical Theater).

GEOFFREY GREGORY (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart) Geoff began theater performances in productions of Shakespeare while in high school in California. He returned to acting in Utah with "As You Like It." Previous roles include Phileas Fogg in the North American premiere of "Around the World in 80 Days: the Musical" and Lord Farquaad in "Shrek: the Musical." He studied Arabic at the University of Utah. Along with performing as a improviser with the Jesters Royale troupe, Geoff is the technical director at the Empress Theatre in Magna.

NATALIE EASTER (Katherina Cavalieri) Natalie is an active performer and musician throughout the United States. Her vocal prowess covers opera, art song, oratorio, and musical theater. Highlights include Mrs. Potts in "Beauty and the Beast" (Herriman Arts Council), Jenny in "Company" (Silver Summit Theatre Company), Hänsel in "Hänsel & Gretel" (Utah Lyric Opera), Mrs. Anderssen in "A Little Night Music" (Pine Mountain Music Festival), and Dorabella in "Così fan tutte" (Seagle Music Colony). She holds a Master of Music degree in Opera Performance from the University of Kansas and a Bachelor of Music degree in Voice Performance, as well as a Theater minor, from the University of Utah.

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From This Author Blair Howell