Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Amahl And The Night Visitors"

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"


entire contents copyright 2011 by Tony Annicone

"Amahl And The Night Visitors"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

The current show at Little Theatre of Fall River is "Amahl and the Night Visitors''.The show is an opera in one act by Gian Carlo Menotti with an English libretto by the composer. It was commissioned by NBC and first performed on the NPC Opera Theatre on December 24,1951, in New York City where it was broadcast live on television as the debut production of the Hallmark Hall of Fame. It was the first opera specifically composed for television in America. The three kings are on their way to visit baby Jesus in Bethlehem. They stop to rest at the home of Amahl, a crippled boy, and his mother. Amahl likes to tell tall tales and his impoverished mother tends not to believe them. Even though they are very poor, they offer the kings, hospitality, shelter and entertainment from their shepherd friends. Late that night, Amahl's mother is caught trying to steal some gold from one of the Kings, but when she explains that it is for her starving child, she is forgiven. Amahl offers his crutch as a special gift for the baby Jesus and is miraculously cured of his lameness. Director Paula Arruda gives this holiday tale the warmth and humor needed to carry it off with the expert musical direction by Jane Fiore-Bigelow fills the theatre with glorious harmonies of these talented cast members.

Paula feels that hope and faith are sorely lacking in today's society and this show will help to remind us of it. She mixes the comic and dramatic moments together perfectly in this tale for family members of all ages. Paula also played the mother in this show over 20 years ago. Jane plays lead keyboards with a four piece orchestra. The multitude of costumes are by Paula and Deborah Sadler while the set is by Roberto SC Soares and scenic design by Fernando Goulart. Tracy Gendreau plays the mother. She is excellent in this role. Her fabulous voice soars in all her numbers and the duets with Amahl are terrific,too. I last reviewed Tracy as Maggie in "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" last year for Little Theatre. 11 year old Mary Galstian plays Amahl. Her topnotch voice sells her songs "O Mother You Should Go Outside";"Don't Cry Mother Dear";"Are You a Real King?"; and "All These Beautiful Things". Mary delivers the pathos and humor of this role. Amahl's dance and kicking up her heels near the close of the show is very heartwarming.The three kings have glorious voices and their harmonic songs are joyful to listen to. They are played by Paul Allard, John Costa and Ken Etress. John plays Kasper who is childlike, eccentric and a bit deaf king wins many laughs and uses his tenor voice. While Paul as Melchior, a baritone, understands why the mother took the gold after he realizes Amahl's disability. Bathazar uses his bass voice in this role and explains what they do as kings to Amahl. The Magi sing in fabulous three part harmony in "From Far Away We Come";"Have You Seen a Child?"; and "All These Beautiful Things". When Amahl is cured, he leaves with the kings to see the child and give his crutch in thanks for being healed.

Rounding out the cast is Cory David Santos as the Kings Page who catches the mother, struggles with her and Amahl. Michael Coury choreographed the dance. Cory dances with Christine Roy for the three kings in "Dance of the Shepherds".I last reviewed Cory as Glenn in "Rumors" earlier this year for the group.The shepherds are played by Roger Belanger, Maryann Goulart, Jen Brodsky, Linda and Frank Noble, Katie Mello Pak, Christine Roy, Ed Viveiros and Benjamin Wilkie.They sing "Shepherds! Shepherds!";"Emily Emily"; and "Olives and Quinces".So for a splendid alternative holiday show, be sure to catch this heart warming musical masterpiece, "Amahl" to help usher you into this festive time of year.

"Amahl And The Night Visitors" (1 - 11 December)
FALL RIVER LITTLE THEATRE
@ The Fire Barn, Prospect Street, FALL RIVER MA
1(508)675-1872

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