Thursday, June 16, 2011

Quick Hit Review: Fraulein Maria -- Hartford Stage

Photo Courtesy Hartford Stage
Fraulein Maria
Conceived and choreographed by Doug Elkins
Directed by Barbara Karger and Michael Preston, both professors at Hartford's Trinity College

Summary:
Modern dance piece performed to the soundtrack from Rodgers & Hammerstein's movie "The Sound of Music." Lots of humor, puppets, clever costumes and props like sheets becoming Austrian mountains bring the classic to life amidst dance interpretations of the songs (where Maria or other female characters often are danced by males).

Highlights:
It's a lot of fun. Fans of the film will recognize characters and scenarios quickly and enjoy some of the tongue-in-cheek interpretations. It's always great to hear that Julie Andrews soundtrack. Nice interpretations of "The Sound of Music," "My Favorite Things," and in particular, "Edelweiss," which features two males on a bench in an outwardly comic piece involving a hat, but which has more sinister overtones depicting the encroachment of Nazism on the Austrian homeland. It's a breezy 65 minutes with no intermission.

Lowlights:
The use of sexual movements and innuendo, especially in the "16 Going on 17" number hits a sour note in a show interpreting such a wholesome movie. I'm surprised the Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization, so protective of its properties that it won't even let you use dialogue from their movies in their plays when you are producing them, approved of this. In fairness, the audience did  seem to enjoy it, so call me a prude.

Information:
The production runs through June 26.  Evening performances are Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 7:30 pm.  Matinee performances are Saturdays and Sundays at 2 pm.  For a more specific schedule of performances, call the Hartford Stage box office at 860-527-5151 or visit http://www.hartfordstage.org/.

Along with Elkins and Preston, the Hartford cast of Fraulein Maria includes Hilary Brown, Daniel Charon, Therman Christopher, Krista Jansen, Deborah Lohse, Kellie Ann Lynch, Cori Marquis, Meghan Merrill, Donnell Oakley, Joshua Palmer, and John Sorensen-Jolink, each making his or her Hartford Stage debut.
--Lauren Yarger

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Lauren Yarger with playwright Alfred Uhry at the Mark Twain House. Photo: Jacques Lamarre)

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