Lamplighters Music Theatre Die Fledermaus Review – A Delight

Seeing the Lamplighters Music Theatre Die Fledermaus by Johann Strauss at the Mountain View Center for Performing Arts felt like a “happening”.  Were I not an “escapee” from the frozen tundra of Chicago affectionately known as Chiberia this year, I would have seen the same light opera performed by Lyric Opera of Chicago. (See review) Interestingly, as I picked up the program for the Lamplighters production, I was surprised and pleased to see an excerpted article about Die Fledermaus written by Magda Krance written for Lyric Opera of Chicago.  In part she notes, “Johann Strauss II cranked out 200+ dance tunes before he turned 30, quickly surpassing his father’s output and popularity……In the early 1870s Strauss turned to operetta; his first efforts succeeded despite weak libretti.  The third, Die Fledermaus, became the dazzling charmer for the ages after it premiered in 1874 – even though the glittering world it depicts had been seriously shaken..”

 

Die Fledermaus (or the Bat Bites Back) was composed by Johann Strauss II to a German libretto by Karl Haffner and Richard Genée.  Since the Operetta’s premiere in April 1874 at the Theater an der Wien in Vienna, it has been a staple of the standard repertoire.  This production follows five productions in 1965, 1971, 1975, 1979 and 1989.  I didn’t see any of these but I am certain this one beats them all.  It is a wonderful production.  I have read many reviews of Lamplighter productions by Philip Hodge , but this is the first opportunity I have had to see a performance.  What a delight!

 

The new translation to English by David Scott Marley enhanced the production immeasurably. Mr. Marley began writing words and lyrics for musical theater in the early 1980s in Los Angeles and hasn’t quit.  Here is more About Mr. Marley. In addition, my husband and I were commenting about how much we enjoyed the translation, how perfectly it captured the charm of the operetta and how the words fit the music exactly and we were happily introduced to Mr. Marley, himself, seated in front of us and enjoying the performance as much as the rest of the audience.

 

Assistant Music Director Maya Barsacq took the conductor's baton at the last minute (due to illness) and the orchestra shone, offering one waltz after the next, tunes you wanted to get up and dance to with the cast and those that would replay in your head for days.

 

In the operetta where Champagne is King, there is shameless flirting, false identities, partying through the night and wonderful, wonderful waltzes.  The story takes place in the early 1870s in Vienna where Dr. Falke (William Neely) arranges revenge on his friend Gabriel Von Eisenstein (Martin Lewis) because Eisenstein left Dr. Falke drunk and passed out in a bat costume on a park bench.  Walking home through the town, once he awoke, he was nicknamed “Dr. Bat”.  Prince Orlofsky (Elliot Franks) is having a fantasy ball where everyone can be what they want to be and some very curious invitations are received. Eisenstein who is supposed to be in jail gets one, as does his wife, Rosalinde (Lindsay Thompson Roush) and her ex-lover Alfred (Mark Kratz).  Rosalinde’s maid, Adele (Maya Kherani) receives an invitation, as does Warden Frank (Samuel Rabinowitz).

 

At the ball in Act 2, there was so much champagne, flowing, so much merry making, great dancing and the feeling of indulging a bit too much, I almost felt like I’d shared some champagne with the cast.

 

The jail scene in Act 3 is nothing less than hilarious.

 

The voices were beautiful, strong and pitch perfect the night I saw the performance.  The sets, staging and costumes were uplifting carried the theme perfectly.  The acting was superb as was the dancing.  Maya Kherani was the standout in a cast that was outstanding. 

 

 

Stage Director: Barbara Heroux, Music Director: George Cleve, Choreographer: Tom Segal

 

Gabriel von Eisenstein

 

Martin Lewis

Rosalinde, Eisenstein's wife

 

Jennifer Ashworth: (1/24, 1/25 - 8pm, 2/2, 2/8, 2/16, 2/21, 2/22 - 8pm)
Lindsay Thompson Roush: (1/25 - 2pm, 1/26, 2/9, 2/15, 2/22 - 2pm, 2/23)

Adele, Rosalinde's maid

 

Maya Kherani: (1/24, 1/25 - 8pm, 2/2, 2/8, 2/15, 2/22 - 8pm, 2/23)
Elisabeth Russ: (1/25 - 2pm, 1/26, 2/9, 2/16, 2/21, 2/22 - 2pm)

Ida, Adele's cousin

 

Jennifer Mitchell: (1/25 - 2pm, 1/26, 2/9, 2/15, 2/22 - 2pm, 2/23)
Maayan Voss de Bettancourt: (1/24, 1/25 - 8pm, 2/2, 2/8, 2/16, 2/21, 2/22 - 8pm)

Alfred, a tenor

 

Mark Kratz

Dr Falke, a psychiatrist

 

William Neely

Dr Blind, a lawyer

 

Christopher Focht

Frank, a prison governor

 

Samuel Rabinowitz

Prince Orlofsky

 

Elliot Franks: (1/25 - 2pm, 1/26, 2/2, 2/9, 2/15, 2/22 - 2pm, 2/23)
Anna Yelizarova: (1/24, 1/25 - 8pm, 2/8, 2/16, 2/21, 2/22 - 8pm)

Yvan, the prince's valet

 

Jeffrey Beaudoin

Frosch, a jailer

 

Bruce Hoard

 

Chorus

Michael Alcorn, Magnus Asbo, Joshua Beld, Walt Burge, Glenn D'Mello,
Nicolas Dahlman, Katherine Feller, Christopher Focht, Emily Gladstone Cole,
Katia Hayati, Mark Hodgson, Sarah Hutchison, Alice Ko,
Jeremiah Lee, Amber Marsh, Lizzie Moss, Timothy Pickett, Kelcey Jay Poe,
Kelly Powers, Alan Roberts, Kathy Rosner-Galitz, Iain Roush,
Rachel Rush, Chris Shuford, Jacob Thompson, Heather Tinling

 

 

 

 

You are in for a treat if you attend one of the continuing performances at the Yerba Buena Center, San Francisco
415-978-2787 · YBCA online

Friday, February 21 • 8PM
Saturday, February 22 • 2PM & 8PM
Sunday, February 23 • 2PM

Photos: Photo by Lucas Buxman, 2014, unless otherwise noted

 
 

 

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