Theatre Review: “Amadeus” by Mary Best

The marriage of songs and drama is often celebrated when presented as a musical production, but what about the role of music in a play?
Peter Shaffer’s “Amadeus,” the sensationalized story of one man’s feud with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, lends itself well to the idea on paper. However, it’s the magic of the JoAnn Falletta-led Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra that takes Irish Classical Theatre Company’s production of the play to an unforgettable level.
Make a point to escape to Kleinhans this weekend for a truly rich and unique theatrical experience. 
Friday night marked the debut of this collaboration, with scenes of the play diluted and supplemented with expertly chosen selections from Mozart’s repertoire. Vincent O’Neill, portraying composer Antonio Salieri, guides the audience as narrator and main antagonist. He begins the program confessing to poisoning Mozart but promises to explain himself. As we learn of Salieri’s many attempts to sabotage Mozart’s talents after discovering his lack of grace and charm, we also experience Salieri’s awe at Mozart’s flawless compositions.
The best synergy of drama and music occurs when Salieri describes singular moments of each piece as he hears it for the first time. As he mentions hearing the woodwinds, the orchestra follows, inviting the audience beyond the fourth wall on the journey with Salieri.
The production, directed by Fortunato Pezzimenti, is a perfect fit for O’Neill. His commanding voice demands your attention and despite his questionable motives, sympathy, as he struggles to understand why God rewards Mozart with musical genius and not him. He also brings humor, even breaking the fourth wall to interact with Falletta when appropriate, to a character that could easily remain one-dimensional.
PJ Tighe as Mozart is indeed the standout performance of the night. From his electric energy and laughs to the tragic turn of the second act, his range seems boundless and he flows from one emotional end of the spectrum to the other as smoothy as one of Mozart’s piano concertos.
In the role of Constanze Weber, Mozart’s wife, Kathleen Macari shines during the bold, carefree moments of her stage time but triples in power when things become tougher in Mozart’s life and her spirit is tested.
Rounding out the talented cast is Anthony Alcocer, Ray Boucher, Elliot Fox, David Lundy and Doug Weyand, all of whom shine in their roles, filling the ample space and acoustics of Kleinhans. Members of the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus, directed by Adam Luebke, also contributed to the performance, specifically soloists Kevin Cosbey, Daniel Johnson, Timothy Lane and Sarabeth Matteson.
Rich details on a minimal set designed by David Dwyer and vibrant colorful costumes by Dixon Reynolds complement the format of the production, making it just as pleasing to look at as it is to listen to.
There’s only two chances left to catch “Amadeus,” so make a point to escape to Kleinhans this weekend for a truly rich and unique theatrical experience.
Running time: 2 hours 30 minutes including a 10 minute intermission
“Amadeus” plays through January 22, 2017 at Kleinhans Music Hall in Buffalo.

Theatre Review: “Amadeus” by the Irish Classical Theatre Company & the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra at Kleinhans
by Mary Best,
Posted January 21, 2017