note: entire contents copyleft 2006 by Will Stackman
Antonio Salieri... James Barton
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.... Jeff Mahoney
Constanze Weber Mozart... Michelle Mount
Emperor Joseph II... David Berti
Venticelli #1... John Small
Venticelli #2... Bill Stambaugh
Count Johann Von Strack... Michael Lague
Count Franz Orsini-Rosenberg... Robert Zawistowski
Baron Gottfried van Swieten... Richard Schieferdecker
Mlle. Katherina Cavalieri... Melissa Sine
Mme. Teresa Salieri... Mary Rutkowski
Ghost of Mozart's Father... David Gould
Kappellmeister Giuseppe Bono... Jim Curley
Salieri's Cook... Peri Chouteau
Salieri's Valet... James Hayward
Set Design... David Atwood
Lighting Design... D Schweppe
Sound Design... Robert Zawistowski
Costume Design... Kathy Booth
Costume Assistant... Carol Antos
Hair & Makeup... Jack Wickwire
Properties... Clare Moschella & Janis Galligan
The 1984 movie of this award-winning play has unfortunately obscured its dramatic virtues in favor of its melodramatic premise, in spite of the fact that Peter Shaffer wrote both, and indeed received an Academy Award for his screenplay. The Vokes Players' current production, using the author's 1999 final revision of his playscript, has an excellent cast, tight direction, a simple yet effective set, first-class costumes, and a carefully planned "soundtrack" of Mozart's work. The show works especially well in the jewelbox setting of the Vokes Theatre, whose decor blends with the background for the action.
The main character, the villain of the piece, who becomes his own victim is Antonio Salieri, the court composer, is played passionately by Jim Barton, who's been seen not only at the Vokes before, but in several Boston Theatre Works productions as well as with Trinity Consortium. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is done with the necessary silliness by Jeff Mahoney, seen most recently as the lead in Animus Ensemble's "Promises, Promises." Michelle Mount, who's worked with several community theatres recently plays his wife Constanze. Vokes veteran David Berti has the force necessary to play the Emperor, whose court includes Michael Lague, seen at Vokes and with the Sudbury Savoyards, Richard Schieferdecker seen at Vokes and elsewhere, and another veteran Robert Zawistowski as Orsini-Rosenberg, head of the Royal Opera. Zawistowski also designed the complex score. Jim Curley is the aging Kappellmeister.
Salieri has two confidants he labels his Venticelli, "little winds," played by John Small and Bill Stambaugh. The pair supply all the important gossip which moves the action along. Salieri's upright wife, Teresa, is played essentially mute by Mary Rutkowski. His cook and valet, who age along with their master, are Peri Chouteau and James Hayward. His best vocal student, who stars in Mozart's first opera, and later becomes Salieri's mistress is Melissa Sine, seen as the female lead in Hovey's "Les Liaisons Dangereuse." All members of the cast , including David Gould who appears as the Ghost, also participate in the ensemble providing audiences, crowds, and furniture movers as needed, except the two male leads. The crew is also costumed.
David Atwood's set is mostly a handsome white and gold back wall with panels which rotate to indicate change of locale. Furniture provides the rest of the scene along with Kathy Booth's effective array of complex period costumes. D Schweppe's lighting sets the mood. This production is on a par with most seen at professional theatres in the area, thanks to the efforts of Vokes' dedicated volunteers. It firm success, however, rests in the sure direction and the strong acting of Mahoney as the tragically flawed almost comic Mozart and Barton, whose compelling Salieri is ultimately a true tragic hero, both the playwright's own mouthpiece and a symbol for fruitless modern striving.