The Impresario

Warning: This review may contain spoilers.
Part of London Fringe Festival 2009
Presented by Diva Lounge Productions
Playwright/Author: Music by W.A. Mozart, Libretto adapted by Sonja Gustafson
Played by Sonja Gustafson, Taylor Matheson, Ian Robertson, Morgan Jones and Paul Grambo
Wolf Performance Hall
June 19–27, 2009

In information connected to The Impresario I saw this description: “Comedic singspiel.”

Well, it’s definitely a singspiel.

The moments when these five professionals perform music are perfection.

Curiously, but not surprisingly, there is no director credit. That is the one element that could turn this production from pleasant to outstanding. Perhaps too many creative cooks and no clear executive chef?

When you bill a show as, “a comedic opera in one act,” you are setting yourself up if you don’t deliver a laugh…quickly. The laughs eventually arrive but more of them are needed, especially in the first half.

For example, a complete song is performed gloriously by Ian Robertson on piano at the top of the show. That’s fine if this were a recital, an evening of Mozart. It’s not. Get Paul Grambo as Mr. Bluff in there earlier — his facial expressions are perfect for comedy. Giving him business from the get go would set the comedic tone for the entire show. Robertson and Grambo certainly have the potential to make a great comedy pair; they just need better material.

Sonja Gustafson, Taylor Roberson and Morgan Jones sang wonderfully and when the sh*t hit the fan in the plot line their interplay was delightful as were Robertson and Grambo when the joined in.

Diva Lounge Productions’ version of The Impresario has great potential. Their musical talent alone made the trip down to the Wolf Performance Hall worth the visit.

1 thought on “The Impresario”

  1. Ian Robertson says:

    Mr. D’Haene’s comments and constructive criticisms have been very beneficial in our "after-show" discussions of our performances. I do wish to perhaps offer some clarity as to the structure of the show, in case there is some confusion.

    This operetta is effectively a modernization of the original work by Mozart, using an english translation for the sung pieces. The dialog was rewritten by Sonja (Gustafson) Appleton but only to bring the language up to modern standards and to include her pregnancy as a point of humor. Otherwise, we’ve held true to the way Mozart wrote the operetta.

    Mozart submitted the work as a competition piece, and thus contains a lot of "academic" elements and structure. The "complete song" at the start (which I appreciate the praise for, as it is devilishly hard) is the Overture, usually played by the orchestra before the rise of the curtain. This is a required element in Classical Opera and including it seemed appropriate; we feel that staging it represents my character "practicing". Regarding the start between myself and Grambo, it does take some time to get to the *really* funny bits, but character development seems to be what Mozart was looking for. That said, Grambo and I have taken your suggestions seriously and have brainstormed ideas as to how to bring more comedy to the show sooner.

    Thank you kindly
    Ian Robertson

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