To forge an orchestra of eighteen soloists and set them to work on all of Afro-Latin Jazz composition is to have an embarrassment of riches. This is the premise of Arturo O’Farrill‘s Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra, and O’Farrill’s work seems to be cut out for him: it is mainly a question of pointing in the right direction.
Dia de los Muertos: A Latin Jazz Halloween, the show put together in honor of its namesake holiday, was a clear example of the unique and difficult ambitions of this orchestra. [click to continue….]
Illyria, a new musical by the Prospect Theater Company, was saddled with understudies in three central roles at the Saturday matinee, November 15th. Merely a day from its last performance, the roles of Viola, Sebastian and Feste all filled by understudies, and performing for a half-full audience, the musical was surprisingly restrained in its interpretation of the classic Shakespearian comedy, Twelfth Night.
The show was a modest production, with a simple staircase as scenery and blue curtains draped behind it. The small space belied a need for improved mikes, as more than once Feste’s quick patter was lost behind the impressive score. The costumes were appropriate and, as highlighted by the frilly pink costume Sir Andrew was suited up in, quite effective. The orchestra was a mere seven instruments seated directly to the side of the performers, although their sound was almost improbably full and compelling. The book relied coyly on lines from the Shakespearian original, and when it modernized the language it was subtle and careful with the alterations.
Yet, the economy of the production was in no way a restraint for the performance. [click to continue….]