30 tammikuuta 2012

Chess (concert) - Budapest 2010

I've been a fan of Abba since I was 10, but Kristina från Duvemåla's score made me think I'm not interested in Björn&Benny's musicals. Besides, how could a musical about chess be interesting? It's a board game, for heaven's sake!

Boy, was I wrong...

I don't usually get this hooked to realistic musicals with no supernatural-ish themes, but somehow Chess is an exception. The story is touching, the characters realistic, and it has one of the most beautiful musical scores I have ever heard, if not the most beautiful. It was love at first sight.

(Video link: Another, longer trailer in Facebook)

Out of all the musicals I've seen, Chess is probably the most difficult to put to words. If you want your musicals to be nice, light and feel-good, Chess might not be my first recommendation, though it has its funny scenes, too. This production felt like someone would gently, piece by piece, rip my soul open. The musical concentrates very much on raw feelings, communication and problems related to it, the big choices of life, the wrong choices, the right choices, and everything in between. Its world is not black-and-white in the sense of good and evil; every character is a shade of grey, they have their reasons to act like they do, and though they make mistakes, those are human mistakes, easy to understand. They're trying to lead their personal life as well as they can, even though they're all just chess pieces in the big political game between the USSR and the USA.

In Chess, the most beautiful melodies often aren't in the big hits, in my opinion. Florence's big solos are pretty but not perhaps the most memorable musical songs ever, and the more dancepop-like songs like "The Arbiter" and "One Night in Bangkok" aren't necessarily the best ones to summarize the style of the musical, though I like them very much. Of the big, clearly separate songs I love Anatoly's songs, the ensemble numbers and other group-of-people-singing songs the most, and also Svetlana's songs.

But the little melodies, sometimes slipped here and there and sometimes controlling half of the musical, and the huge and complex opera-like music truly nailed me to my seat. The music is catchy, beautiful, bittersweet, multi-layered and dramatic. There's something very flowing in it. The best metaphor I can come up with is a little mountain river that has just gotten free of ice and is now dancing among the rocks and ice leftovers. Add an occasional huge waterfall, a humorous fish and a dead puppy, and you might get close the general feeling of the Chess score.

The chess game theme is hypnotizing, as is "The Story of Chess". There's something even lullaby-like in them. I never cry in theatre, but the whole Endgame sequence brings through such desperation, willpower, sadness and beauty mingled together that I was holding back tears. By the reprise of "You and I" I was ready to sneeze on Anatoly's jacket and hug him and tell it's going to be all right.

The chess game. Photo: PS Produkció

For those who know the musical, the Hungarian concert production is basically the 2008 Royal Alber Hall concert, though compared to the 2008 concert, they had cut "The Merchandisers", "Hymn to Chess" and the scene in which Freddie tells Anatoly about a flaw in Viigand's game before the big final match, and also some dialogue and small reprises that aren't even listed in the song list. The cuts IMO made the story and scenes flow much better. The concert production follows the London storyline, and there's nothing extra on stage, just what really matters, and for me this production brings the best out of the musical. It has impressive show elements, yes, but somehow the dramatized concert form with very little sets seemed to leave more room to the musical itself, its idea and music.

I liked the changes they had made to Walter de Courcy's (the adorable Béla Pavletits) character. It wasn't explicitly told that he was a CIA agent, though in the end it was quite clear, and he wasn't shown as the bad guy (or as the good guy, for that matter). He wasn't your stereotypical agent like Molokov and there wasn't anything evil in him, he simply played his role in the big international game, used everyone equally, no matter if they were on his or on the other side, and secretly laughed at especially the easily fooled and used Freddie. I got the feeling that it was he who in the end wasn't on nobody's side but his own. Then again, so were most other characters in the end.

Related to this, the most important change was that (for the first time ever?) it wasn't indicated that Florence's father really hadn't been found and everyone had just lied to Florence. In the end Walter said something like "Now your father will be free" and, after Florence's reaction, smiling friendly, "Life being just a game isn't true", after which Florence sang the reprise of "Anthem". It wasn't explicit, but it left me with a clearly positive feeling about the whole matter. At least more positive than the "Haha, we have fooled you, now you lost the both men" in the other versions I've seen. I think the musical requires this little ray of hope, or otherwise they should place a portable psychologist's office outside the theatre.

Béla Pavletits, Géza Egyházi, Ernő Zsolt Kiss, Viktor Varga & Géza Gábor.
Photo: PS Produkció
The Cast

Anatoly Sergievsky: Géza Egyházi
Florence Vassy: Éva Sári
Frederick Trumper: János Szemenyei / Levente Csordás
Alexander Molokov: Géza Gábor / Balázs Csórics
Svetlana Sergievsky: Tímea Kecskés
The Arbiter: Ernö Zsolt Kiss
Walter de Courcy: Béla Pavletits
Leonyid Viigand: Viktor Varga / György Mihálka
The Mayor: Dávid Sándor
Diplomats, etc.: Gábor Jenei, Zsolt Szentirmai, Ádám Pásztor, Szabolcs Hetei-Bakó, Dávid Sándor
Reporters: Darinka Nyári, Beáta Ajtai, Márta Debreczeni, Réka Kovács, Véra Fekete Kovács
Choir: Jazz And More Choir

Generally everyone was great, with the exception of 2nd Freddie, Levente Csordás, who wasn't exactly bad but also not as good as the rest of the cast. He didn't have a very Freddie-ish feeling in him, and his voice could have been better. The 1st Freddie, János Szemenyei, was really really good, though, he had just the right amount annoyingness and arrogance and his Fred was too impulsive to notice what really was going on around him. His acting was unbelievably intense, and he definitely gave his all and threw himself in the emotions of the cynic and abandoned character. (Video link: Rehearsal version of Pity the Child)

Géza Egyházi was easily the best Anatoly I've encountered. Slightly stubborn, slightly stiff at the first look and silently desperate, but there was also the flirty and romantic side under the surface. He wasn't a big bundle of larger-than-life angst, but just a man whose life was in dead end and who didn't quite know what to do about the situation. His Endgame part was heartbreaking. His velvety baritone sounded great in especially the "Mountain Duet", the "Anthem" and the Endgame, and I keep being hooked to his "Where I Want to Be":

Molokov was incredible, one of the highlights of the performances. Géza Gábor is an opera singer, a bass, and his voice fit the songs perfectly. My face must have looked like O_o when he first opened his mouth and started to sing. He had comical talent and added some subtle funny details to the character, although his Molokov definitely had to be taken seriously. Balázs Csórics was good, too, but with a baritone Anatoly a bass Molokov works much better, if we assume that the lower the voice is, the further the character is from sweet tenor boys. (Video link: The Soviet Machine)

Éva Sári (Florence) had a strong and beautiful voice, and she had a very Florence-ish attitude, will of her own. I think Tímea Kecskés as Svetlana perhaps acted a tiny bit better, but I had nothing to complain with Éva, either. I'm sad that I didn't get to hear Réka Koós as Svetlana. Anyway, I enjoyed the both ladies' performance very much.

Then the singing and dancing ensemble. Ernö Zsolt Kiss (Arbiter) is in many ways a pleasure to the eyes: he looks good, he's dressed well, and I like the way he moves. The male singers kept catching my attention with their detailed acting, and I loved their "Embassy Lament". The British choreographer said in an interview that she'd like to take all the dancers with her to England, and I understand her, since especially the "Soviet Machine" and the chess matches were stunning. (Video link: The Arbiter) Also the Jazz and More choir sounded excellent, and I loved it how the huge choir loomed behind the actors like some half-demonic Angel Choir of Doom.

The musical plays very very rarely, and though they actually were supposed to quit last year, they announced two more shows in April 2012.

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27 tammikuuta 2012

Mozart! - Operettszínház, Budapest 2010

Mészáros Árpád Zsolt / Dolhai Attila - Wolfgang Mozart
Németh Attila - Hieronymus Colloredo
Földes Marci - Amadé
Vágó Zsuzsi / Szimenfálvy Agota - Constanze Weber
Pálfalvy Attila / Földes Tamás - Leopold Mozart
Vágó Bernadett - Nannerl Mozart
Náray Erika - Waldstätten bárónő
Bereczki Zoltán - Emanuel Schikaneder
Langer Soma - Karl Joseph Arco gróf
Marik Péter - Doktor Messmer
Molnár Piroska - Cäcilia Weber
Dénes Judit - Aloysia Weber
Ullmann Zsuzsa - Josepha Weber
Tihanyi Lívia - Sophie Weber
Csuha Lajos - Fridolin Weber, Thorwald

Attila Dolhai & Amadé (Photos: Operettszínház)
 This was the first time ever I saw some production of Mozart! on stage. I must say I'm happy with the start, because the Hungarian production works in many ways very well. It has some of the usual Operettszínház faults like too much pointless ensemble and too much unimportant & not very good-looking set pieces, but generally it wasn't as bad as I had feared. Either I've gotten used to the theatre's style or then I was just too traumatized by their Elisabeth two years earlier.

Let me start with the biggest negative side of the performance: Árpád Zsolt Mészáros as Wolfgang Mozart. I can sort of understand why his portrayal is like it is and why some people like it, but for me he totally wasn't Wolfgang. Most of the time he behaved like a 5-year-old with an ADHD and occasionally he turned into a retarded clown. Wolfgang has those sides, yes, but MÁZs took it a bit too far for my taste. I'd like to add about ten years to his mental age and take out the worst straight stupidity. Kunze's Wolfgang is supposed to be clever in his own way, after all, just not very good at taking care of his everyday life. I don't know if the impression had been any different if I had really understood all the lyrics, but based on the German lyrics I couldn't always see MÁZs!Wolfgang thinking or saying the things he sings, mostly in the angsty songs. Even though I'm usually on Leopold's side, I want to feel sympathy for Wolfgang at least in some scenes. In this case I couldn't see things from Wolfgang's point of view.

But if you forget the actual portrayal, his acting was extremely good and intense, pretty much in the same way as he sings very well but I don't like his voice. Technically everything essential is there, but then we get to speak about different tastes in characters and voices.

Attila Dolhai
 Besides, I can't help it and it totally isn't his fault, either, but I simply find the guy repulsive. There's something in him that makes me think touching him would make me vomit. I had forgotten how much sex there is in the Hungarian production, and let's just say that I could have done without a couple of sights of MÁZs making out with someone. Not to mention Wolfgang stripping off all his clothes in one scene, which I had happily forgotten about, too.

Later we had Attila Dolhai in the role, and though I kind of liked his portrayal more and prefer his voice, I felt he lacked energy and acted in a bit too old and mature way for Wolfgang. I wish I could see someone totally different in the role.

Attila Dolhai
I really, really like the way they handle Amadé in this production. The kid truly is demonic, and on the same time he in a way seems to be a very good friend of Wolfgang's. Like, in the end Amadé first kisses Wolfgang's cheek lovingly and then stabs him in the heart to drain his last drops of blood for the Requiem. One of the rare moments when I actually really liked MÁZs was in "Der rote Rock", when Amadé first came to stage as his double. Wolfgang puts on the red coat, looks into the mirror, sees Amadé in it - completely to his own astonishment -, and for half a scene they just look at and kind of discover each other, until Wolfgang seems to accept that okay, I've got an invisible 8-year-old me following me and writing me music. I've never seen Amadé being presented like that, usually he just is there and Wolfgang knows it, so it was interesting to see Wolfgang's reactions to him. Generally the two reacted very much to each other, they were pals but also enemies, and Amadé going *facepalm* when Wolfgang was once again lured somewhere by ladies was sweet.

Szilveszter Szabó and brains

Luckily MÁZs is my only complaint about the cast. Attila Németh's voice isn't quite enough for Colloredo's songs, but his acting made it up. I wish I could see Silveszter Szabó as Colloredo. Both Vágó girls suited their roles well and didn't shout that much. The same goes for Erika Náray and Zoltán Bereczki, and the rest of the people were okay or good, too. I must give a special mention to Soma Langer as Count Arco. The guy was hilarious and had great facial expressions and sang very well.

Mozart! is one of my favourite musicals ever, but it seems to be hard to make a really good production of it. We've come to the conclusion that when you get the rights to perform Mozart!, you get the libretto Kunze happens to like best at that moment, and then some additional scenes you can fit into preferred places in the musical. The Hungarians have quite a nice mixture, although there still are scenes that could be left out, moved to another place or made a bit differently. Like, I don't approve of replacing "Was für ein grausames Leben" with a preprise of "Wie wird man seinen Schatten los", because the latter is much more effective when it only comes in the end of the 1st act. And yet there later seemed to be a random short reprise of "Was für ein grausames Leben", the point of which I didn't quite get. I also wonder why "Ein bissl für's Herz" is almost in the end, when things are starting to go downhill and more dramatic. The song feels out of place.

Szilveszter Szabó and a phallic candle
I very much like the final scene, I actually got goosebumps in it and that doesn't happen very often nowadays. I love the original finale song, too, but ending the musical with "Mozart! Mozart!" works better, and Amadé "conducting" it was creepy. Colloredo's travel scene with the Episode Of The Portable Toilet impressed me, the skiing guys on the sides of the cleverly made sleigh worked very well and the toilet part of the scene was great. I also adore "Egyszerű út", the new duet between Colloredo and Wolfgang somewhere in the 2nd act.

Zoltán Bereczki playing air tuning fork
I regularly forget how much I love Mozart!'s score. Some songs are less good than the others, but it definitely has some of my favourite Levay songs ever, like the abovementioned "Mozart! Mozart!". Generally I adore the musical even if I sometimes forget its existence for a while, it's definitely one of my favourites and would deserve more productions. The story is tragic and touching, about growing up, making independent choices, not understanding people and fighting against norms, and seeing the musical done well feels like a mental gym.

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11 tammikuuta 2012

Miss Saigon - Operettszínház, Budapest, December 2011

I don't like Miss Saigon that much. It has some nice tunes but the story is quite uninteresting for me. Anyone reading this blog may have noticed that in most cases saccharine and/or tragic larger-than-life love stories of beautiful and innocent young people are not my piece of cake. I don't like West Side Story, which probably tells it all. Nevertheless, I have a habit of checking out musicals in Hungary if I can, because there I know I can get good performance quality with relatively little money.

© Operettszínház
As I expected, the story didn't impress me, and though I like some songs, most of the musical was rather boring. Even though there were lots of sets and props, the Operettszínház seems to have learned something during these years because they did not lift people to sing their solos on platforms. Not even once. I was amazed. Besides, they put up such a huge show that it made up the boring story for me.

I had my usual shouting problem with the cast: almost everyone's singing hurt my ears. The best exceptions were Árpád Zsolt Mészáros as the Engineer (or Professzor, as he's called in Hungarian), whose voice I don't like that much even though he sings very well, and Sándor György-Rózsa (John), who was pleasant to listen to. After the whole 1st act of sharp nasal voices, his Bui Doi was heavenly. Árpád Zsolt Mészáros's acting saved the show for me, he was so full of energy and slime and despair. I've seen the same style in many characters that he plays, and it suited the Engineer, too. Zsuzsi Vágó as Kim and Dénes Kocsis as Chris were okay acting-wise, though you could hear that Dénes is quite young and his voice wasn't always enough for the role. I liked Miklós Máté Kerényi as Thuy, it was nice to see him in a bad guy role for a change.

Árpár Zsolt Mészáros & Marilyns
The show started with the sound of helicopter, with a video projection of jungle and running fighters and whatnot, as if we were in the helicopter, hunting for enemies. Red lights, smoke, sound filling the theatre – very well made. When the "helicopter" reached its destination, two soldiers slid down from the front stage's high roof with ropes, started to shoot around on stage and generally showed the cruel reality of war like we had been in the middle of it. (I did get the feeling that someone had released their inner little boy who likes to crawl in mud and shout 'bang!'.)

The big dance scenes were impressive – and big. "The Morning of the Dragon" reminded me of public shows in lands like China and North Korea: soldiers, gymnastic dancers, a dragon breathing fire, all in black and shades of red, and finally a huge statue in the style of Socialistic Realism. Having watched photos of Kim Jong Il's funeral a few days back, the scene was thought-provoking. Also the Engineer's scenes were so lavish, over-the-top and full of kitsch that it must have been intentional. In "American Dream" there was a flow of American symbolic people dancing on stage, then came six Marilyn Monroes, then came Spider-Man and Superman, after that a cabriolet in the best Las Vegas style… When you thought you had seen it all, they always brought a new shiny piece of show to the stage. Oh, and the famous helicopter scene looked great as well, they had a real-size helicopter lowered to the stage with a propeller and all and it looked very real.

The sets (by Kentaur) were a little disappointment. They were sometimes quite cleverly made, but there was again too much unimportant stuff on stage, especially in real-life scenes like the girl bars, Kim's room, the Vietnamese surroundings and Chris's hotel room. The dream and dance scenes worked well, though. In "Last Night of the World" the stage was almost empty, there was only a watchtower with a soldier playing saxophone on top of it. In the end of the scene he was suddenly shot and fell down and the saxophone was left hanging from the tower. I loved the detail. In Kim's nightmare the stage was empty and lit red, and from somewhere emerged the all-white ghost of Thuy with a bright red blood stain on his chest. Creepy.

Operettszínház also specializes in showing prostitutes and other women of that kind in very little clothes, but I had never seen them in this little clothes. There was a bored-husband-taken-to-theatre sitting on both sides of me, and I could feel them suddenly getting very interested in what was going on. :-P Personally, I could have done with less bare flesh, but then again, I'm not Hungarian. It also wasn't clear to me why there were two very similar long-ish prostitute scenes in the musical, because I'm pretty sure that we'd have gotten the picture of sad prostitutes forced to serve pathetic soldiers/tourists with a bit less effort, too.

All in all, not something I'd go to see again, but nevertheless an interesting production.


07 tammikuuta 2012

Tanz der Vampire - Budapest (2008-)

This is the single musical production that I've seen most times. It has its faults, like occasional technical problems with sets, sounds and the fog machine, but the intensive atmosphere usually makes them up. The cast is great, and the Hungarian dancers are excellent. Vámpírok bálja is my favourite of the standard TdV productions directed by Cornelius Baltus, mainly because the Hungarian actors do so much more than he seems to require.

Kentaur's sets and costumes are beautiful. Not Disney-like, no gingerbread house inns on this stage, but like in a dark and gothic fairytale, and that's pretty much what the musical is for me. On the same time the visual look is also authentic and natural, they've for example added some Hungarian folk dancing into the village choreographies, and Krolock's and Herbert's costumes are made in the Hungarian/Transilvanian style. There's a vast amount of religious symbolism and all kinds of twisted little details on stage. (I saw Kentaur's original costume drafts in an exhibition, and in them there were Empress Elisabeth and Ludwig II among the ball guests. They haven't made it to the stage, but this was just an example about the guy's mind and style. He clearly likes intertextuality in set&costume design.)

Zsanett Andrádi & Géza Egyházi © PS Produkción
For example, the zombies in Carpe noctem are not just random creatures: they are wearing remnants of corsets and tuxedos and manage to look very stylish in a creepy kind of way. Krolock has several different jackets and cloaks, which only makes sense for a nobleman. I especially like the dark red jacket he's wearing "at home", in Totale Finsternis, and the Gier&Tanzsaal cloak with a huge glittery Ankh pattern is stunning.

In general I could say about the cast that if you have heard them on the official recording or seen them in the beginning of the production, they have improved tons after that. The recording tells nothing of what the production is like nowadays. The acting is detailed and well-thought, the singing is splendid and everyone has so much fun on stage that the atmosphere in the theatre can't be described with words. Everyone is natural, funny, relaxed, their acting is full of details and hidden meanings and whatnot and I just don't get bored with watching them.

The Cast

Géza Egyházi - Count von Krolock:  One of my favourite actors in the role. He doesn't even seem to breathe, the voice just comes out of somewhere and almost breaks the theatre's ancient sound systems and brings the balcony down with its power. Yet it can be soft, velvety, tender, seducing. He really thinks about what he sings, and it brings so much emotion into his acting and singing. He practically turns into a vampire for the show. His interpretation works very well for me; he's "my" Krolock, what I imagine the character to be like (at least one version of it).

He's also the first Krolock I've seen who definitely has fun. He is a real gentleman and so on, but he also gets huge kicks of having a cloak and fangs, he keeps grinning at Alfred and the Professor, he's enjoying himself for being the powerful creature who can fool these people and spin them in his web and seduce their girl just like that. This Krolock also enjoys the ball immensely. He may be the respected boss, but somewhere there's also the boy who just likes to dance, interact with guests and have fun. You can easily see where Herbert has gotten his enthusiasm. In "Einladung zum Ball" Krolock comes into the bathroom with this great "Hello, baby, look who's here!" cloak swish, tries to seduce the bathroom door and later in "Vor dem Schloss" has very good chemistry with the sponge. Not to mention the Sarahs. I adore the way he almost kisses Sarah in "Tanzsaal", right before he suddenly lowers his head and bites her instead. Their lips almost touch, and he has this look in his eyes, a bit like "I could do this and I'd like to, but we're the centre of attention now and I'm expected to do this  instead. So wait until the guests are gone, honey."

Géza Egyházi
Gábor Bot
Gábor Bot - Count von Krolock: He plays the role quite rarely, only once or twice during a run. In the beginning I liked him very much, and this review is based on those performances around 2009, but in 2011 he had somehow lost his spark, I couldn't get very much out of him. I love his voice, a tenor that has some very nice baritone-ish softness and warmness in it, and also now he sang well, but with the same tone through the whole musical. He was like a vampire on autopilot. I find it sad, because I used to adore his interpretation.

While he was very, very different from every other Krolock I've ever seen or imagined, his interpretation worked perfectly. Krolock was philosophical, preferred books and theories over practice and was impossible at everything concerning the real life. He was innocent and quite a young vampire and had learned from novels that a vampire count must have a girl in the village to be believable. He had read at least four different "Seduction for Dummies" books and probably carried at least one of them with him so that if something unexpected happened, he could slip into some dark corner to secretly check what he's supposed to do next. If he could, he would have practiced the whole procedure from the invitation to the bite in front of a mirror, but now he had had to ask Herbert if it looks good when he stands like this in the bathroom and then takes three steps left and says this.

His Krolock took himself and the whole seduction business Very Seriously. While Géza!Krolock keeps grinning to every possible direction and seducing inn doors and sponges and girls while being The Gentleman Boss, Gábor!Krolock was deep down inside very insecure, acted very discreetly towards Sarah and never even smiled. And I don't say that as a negative thing, it suited his interpretation perfectly. Géza holds the strings and makes his puppets do exactly what he wants, but Gábor was in fact totally led by Sarah through the whole plot. His Unstillbare Gier was angry, and while he pulled himself together for the ball, the pissed-off desperation immediately rushed back when everything went wrong. Krolock probably went to write bad angsty poetry to his tower for some days after that.

I wouldn't go with Gábor!Krolock, though. He's an incredibly beautiful and aesthetic vampire, quite small and very pleasant to watch, but he's too ethereal and feminine for my taste in men. It was extremely odd to watch the second-best Krolock I had ever seen on stage to that point, enjoy his performance with my every brain cell and not feel any lust for him. It was... educating.

László Sánta & Zsanett Andrádi
Zsanett Andrádi - Sarah:  One of my favourite Sarahs ever. She's quite playful but still knows what she wants and is going to get it. Meanwhile it's okay for her to play with this nice boy as well. Her voice is beautiful though a tiny bit nasal; her long notes could just last and last. She's also pretty in the village girl way, not too doll-like and not "too" beautiful, but realistic and pretty. It's after all quite unlikely that you can find the next Miss Universe in a Transilvanian village.

I've never seen the story exactly as a love story between Sarah and either Alfred or Krolock, and Zsanett's acting works very well with my image. Freedom is most important for her, and while she's interested in both men, she also sees them as a way to get that freedom and is therefore ready to make some sacrifices like losing her life. She definitely knows what she's doing when she lets herself be seduced by Krolock.

Nikolett Kovács - Sarah:  I've only seen Nikolett a couple of times, usually it's Zsanett. I loved Nikolett's acting, she had this ongoing flood of detailed expressions and gestures going on on her. Her Sarah is very flirty and girlish and quite naïve. She's all "Yay there's a cute boy and see what all I can do with my sponge and whoa what a man on my bathtub!" and squees over her new boots and dress. I loved the way she shaked the boots&scarf bundle against her ear to get a sneak peek of what's inside before opening it, a bit like an excited child does with Christmas presents when no one is watching. Mind you, her Sarah still has brains and she can be as determined and mature as anyone. Her voice isn't as strong as I'd hope it to be and she's a bit squeaky, but I can still listen to her without problems.

Dóra Stróbel - Sarah:  She was quite different from what I've used to, but the portrayal was interesting and worked well. Her voice is amazing. I did like her better as Magda, but I have no complaints with her Sarah either, especially if she gets better into the role. I don't know if she had ever played Sarah before, but when I first saw her she was apparently some emergency choice because she wasn't even supposed to be in the production anymore. But she was wonderful, very determined with everything she did, and sometimes it seemed almost like she had planned the whole vampire-bites-me thing just to get outta here. In the end of "Totale Finsternis" she looked for a moment like she'd roll her eyes and press Krolock's teeth on her neck just because men never get on with it and you have to do everything by yourself if you want it done well. You can see she is Rebecca's daughter, I halfway expected her to hit Krolock with a salami. She also looked very believable as the inn daughter, not too strikingly beautiful but a pretty girl, and the change into a confident lady in Tanzsaal was stunning.

Géza Egyházi & Dóra Stróbel
Anna Török - Sarah: I have nothing special to say about her, but I'm getting more and more fond of her Sarah. Anna has a beautiful clear voice, and she's got a nice balance between a young girl and a woman who's determined to get what she wants.

László Sánta - Alfred:  I'm afraid I haven't got much to say about him, except that he simply is Alfred, and nowadays one of my favourite actors in general. He's an excellent comical talent, has great voice and great chemistry with everyone, and I adore him. It's a pity he doesn't play in the production anymore, because he was very very close to the Alfred in my head. His Alfred has the right amount of inner strength when he needs it, but he's not too adult-like. He also wasn't stupid, just young and used to be led by others.

György Mihálka - Alfred:  OMG he's cute! He's around 20, small and adorable, looks like a 16-year-old, has (or used to have) this lovely curly hair that everyone on stage and behind it wants to play with, and he can honestly outsing most other Alfreds out there. My jaw probably dropped the moment when I watched this little thin boy let out one hell of a "Saaaaraaaaah!" in the end of "Für Sarah". Again, a hidden pair of lungs somewhere, and still he doesn't shout, the singing just comes from somewhere. I don't drool over him, even I feel I'm too old to do that legally, but he's purely adorable. And did I mention the voice? This Alfred is very very very innocent and for a moment I feared that Sarah or Herbert would eat him alive, but he somehow manages to survive and find some inner strength when really needed. In the end the change into a vampire is very fascinating, like watching a puppy turn into a Monster Puppy.

Ádám Pásztor - Alfred: Another small, innocent and cute Alfred. Something in his looks bothers me, but he can't help it and his acting and singing are wonderful so I don't complain. I don't know where they keep finding these Alfreds. I saw him in his first performance ever, the premiere of the summer season 2009 where he wasn't originally even supposed to be, and already in that performance he was very good.

Tibor Héger - Alfred:  When I saw Tibor for the first time around 2009, he was awful. Not as bad as Lukas Perman, but at that point I hadn't yet seen Lukas. Tibor did only what was told in the script, and the rest of the time he just stood with a-smiling-deer-in-the-headlights expression on his face. He didn't react to anything the other actors did if it didn't belong to the script, he just was there. I wasn't happy to see his name in the cast list half a year later or so, but to my surprise he had found his inner Alfred and this time he actually could act. Not my favourite Alfred ever, because he's still a tiny bit too heroic for my taste, but he was good. One nice moment that stayed in my mind was Wahrheit, when the professor lectured everyone about the mightiness of logic and Tibor was clearly making mental notes about it and memorizing the professor's words. Still there's something missing in him that doesn't catch my interest, it's like watching a perfectly set robot that does everything right but there's the real personality missing. Many others seem to love him, though, so probably it's some personal chemistry thing.

Dávid Pirgel & Ádám Pásztor
Dávid Pirgel - Herbert: One of my favourite Herberts ever, definitely. Enthusiastic, boyish, flirty and hilarious. Especially I love him in Tanzsaal, he's all bored when daddy is showing off with this new boring girl, plays with the candle while all the fuss about the biting, cleans his nails and rolls his eyes, and then when daddy starts the dance, Herbert goes "SQUEE!" and kidnaps the nearest vampire (who happens to look like Crown Prince Rudolf). Herbert is a bit jealous for Sarah, worried that the girl looks prettier than he does because he should definitely be the queen of the ball. Dávid has excellent chemistry with Géza!Krolock, they're just like father and son and have loads of interaction especially in Tanzsaal. Géza clearly wants the son to watch how things should be really done, preferably with a girl, but on the same time he seems to accept the son's preferences and would gladly give a gift-wrapped Alfred to him to make him happy.

Máté Kamarás - Herbert: Máté was a confusing experience. When I saw him in the cast list for the first time, I fully expected him to be a very manly and playful and confident Herbert who takes Alfred by the hand and drags him into the nearest broom cupboard. Instead I was shown a playful but a very young, innocent and sweet Herbert. I would have never believed that they could make him look and feel so young. In the end of first act he's all "Daddy, you brought me a present! I love you daddy!" and seems genuinely astonished that Alfred doesn't want to be bitten. He's downright insulted when Professor comes and interrupts him, because he never meant any harm, he was just happy and wanted to play this nice boy and daddy daddy the old man took away my candy! This might well be Herbert's first ball, and he's worried that Sarah will steal all the attention. At least once he was actually disgusted when Krolock bit Sarah, either in the "Eww, a girl!" or then "Eww, daddy, get a room!" way. In summer 2009 he seemed to have lost a bit of his spark, but he was still good.

Viktor Posta - Herbert:  He's good, with great acting and all and there's nothing wrong with him, but somehow I'm just not as interested in his Herbert as in the others. He has a bit too masculine features for my liking and the way the character has been directed, though of course he can't help it. I don't complain when I see him on the cast list, though. He's more mature than the other Herberts, but it's not really a problem, just a matter of taste.

Gábor Jenei - Herbert: He's played the role quite little, but he's definitely promising. Quite a masculine Herbert again, but it suits his interpretation. Great voice, and he does nice little twists with it.

Csaba Nagy (Black Vampire)
Csaba Jegercsik and Dávid Sándor - Professor Abronsius: Both equally energetic, hilarious, bouncy and adorable. They do a little dance in Wahrheit, they add loads of improvisation and Alfred/Professor dialogue and weird details in the crypt scene so that every performance is different, and I so wish I could understand Hungarian better. After seeing the concerts in Vienna I thought I'd always miss the genial Gernot Kranner as Professor, but these two are at least as good as he. Nowadays I think I actually prefer them to Gernot. They have amazing chemistry with Alfred, they have quite a fatherly attitude towards him and it's very sweet.

Tímea Kecskés, Éva Sári and Dóra Stróbel - Magda:  Tímea has been in most performances I've seen, and while she is your basic good Magda and has a great voice, she's always similar and after one or two performances you already know what she's going to do or look like next. In comparison with the general detailed Hungarian acting going on around her she's a bit boring, and she's also a bit too fragile to be a Magda I like. I enjoyed Éva Sári's performance more than Tímea's, but she's a bit too innocent for my liking, I think Magda's hard life should be more visible in her performance. Dóra Stróbel is again great, definitely one of my favourite Magdas.

Gábor Attila Farkas - Koukol:  I never believed I could fangirl Koukol, but I do. Because this Koukol has personality, and a sweet personality it is. He has a lot to say, he keeps muttering to himself all the time and it makes me wish I could understand what he says outside the libretto, because judging by the audience's reactions it's something very funny. Koukol also adores Sarah. When Alfred hears Herbert sing in the castle and thinks it's Sarah, we are shortly shown how Koukol helps Sarah to get into her ballgown, and those two seem to have fun with each other and like each other very much. Not in the dirty way, this Koukol could never think that about Sarah. He's a goofy puppy who adores Sarah like his owner, and he's clearly very proud of being allowed to help her look pretty. I wouldn't wonder if he had sewn the ballgown as well. In Tanzsaal he opens the doors to present Sarah, and even then Sarah pats him on head and grins at him before concentrating on vampires. Koukol is simply adorable, not just an ugly mean servant like usually. The same goes for János Balog, though the new interpretation was created by GAF.

Gábor Attila Farkas & Gábor Bot
Béla Pavletits and Gábor Bot - Chagal: Most of the times I've seen Béla. I never thought I'd watch "Eine schöne Tochter ist ein Segen" and not be a bit bored, but again Hungarians managed to surprise me. Suddenly I like the scene, suddenly I like  Chagal! In Hungary he has definitely become an interesting character, and I love the little detail that in the ball he's dressed up as Vlad Tepes. Pavletits is also quite hot, which is confusing in Chagal but by no means unpleasant.
Gábor used to be more like the Chagal in the original movie, he plays the role more rarely and has had occasionally troubles in deciding if he's an old perv or a virile middle-aged man. Later he had suddenly found his inner Chagal, though, and even though his Chagal is quite old, there was this great cabarét-like undertone in his acting and singing, and for example the crypt scene was awesome.

Kinga Csóka-Vasass - Rebecca:  She definitely takes everything out of the role. I'm especially fascinated by the way she hits Chagal and then climbs over  him into her side of bed, hits him again and then curls up to sleep, hugging the salami happily. She's also very sweet and adorable, her last scene brings me to tears.

In short, a good production. Tanz is my favourite musical and I love to see it done well and with feeling.

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06 tammikuuta 2012

Rómeó és Júlia - Operettszínház, Budapest (2010)

Dolhai Attila / Szerényi László - Rómeó
Vágo Bernadett / Vágó Zsuzsi - Júlia
Szabó P. Szilveszter / Magócs Otto - Tybalt    
Imre Sebastian / Németh Attila - Escalus, the Prince of Verona 
Csuha Lajos - Capulet    
Janza Kata / Füredi Nikolett - Lady Capulet
Csengeri Ottília - Lady Montague
Polyák Lilla / Nádasi Veronika - the Nanny   
Pálfalvy Attila / Földes Tamás - Pater Lorenzo 
Szabó Dávid / Bereczki Zoltán - Mercutio    
Kerényi Miklós Máté / Meszaros Árpád Zsolt - Benvolio    
Egyházi Géza - Paris

R&J isn't my favourite musical on earth, but it's a nice feel-good show. It's nice to watch the twisted details and the excellent actors and dancers and all. The musical itself has far too many similar-sounding love songs and angsty solos for my taste (seriously, if I heard only the melody I couldn't tell most slow songs from another) and somehow the sad songs most of the time lack the sadness and are just light pop. The catchy and angry songs work, though. I'm more interested in the minor characters than the love couple, because the minor characters have fascinating interaction going on. The Hungarian production of the musical is definitely the best I've encountered; they have something interesting going on stage and not just the obligatory love story. Everyone has an affair with each other, and for example Tybalt and Lady Capulet clearly seem to have something going on between them, which is awfully fascinating to follow. Lady C is having something going on with everyone, though. Zoltán!Mercutio tends to discreetly carry her offstage in the masquerade in a very suggestive way, she flirts with Paris, has an affair with a servant... I bet Shakespeare would love the production.

They do have made some odd solutions, too. Romeo dies by hanging himself in the church, with Juliet's body tied to him. Then Juliet wakes up, notices she's hanging tied to dead Romeo, and opens her wrists with Romeo´s knife. Romantic.

I've seen the production with different cast combinations. Attila Dolhai is starting to be a bit too old to be believable as an angsty 20-year-old Romeo, whereas László Szerényi was much more dreamy and Romeo-like and I like his voice more. Both Vágó girls are nice as Juliet, but Zsuzsi seemed to have more going on in her head than Bernadett. Dávid Szabó as Mercutio didn't impress me at all, he overacted the death scene and was otherwise just uninteresting and not my kind of Mercutio. The death scene requires certain drama, but it can be done in a more believable way, and Zoltán Bereczki is amazing as Mercutio, though he's getting a bit too old for the role, too. Attila Pálfalvy as Pater Lorenzo blew me away. The very last song is boring as hell, but the guy practically stole the show, whereas I haven't yet managed to really like Tamás Földes in anything. Veronika Nádasi's Nanny has more guts, balls and every other symbolical body part you can think of, and I liked her acting more than Lilla Polyák's, but Lilla's voice is more beautiful. I like it how the Nanny grabs Romeo's thigh at some point, much like a potential customer checking a horse, and seems to approve of him.

Kata Janza doedn't sound as bad anymore as I had feared, and I like her acting as Lady Capulet, but Nikolett Füredi sings much more beautifully and there's nothing wrong with her acting, either. It was nice to see Szilveszter Szabó as Tybalt, because previously we had Otto Magócs and he's one of the most unimpressive actors I've seen on stage. Sziszi has a more Tybalt-ic air in him, and he's the Angst Master of the theatre. I also enjoted Kiskero as Benvolio, he's bouncy and lively and nice to watch, and together with Zoltán they were very amusing. And bouncy. MÁZs is still eww and I don't like his voice, though he sings well.

Géza Egyházi has found his inner Paris, meaning that he's far more interested in for example Lady Capulet than in her daughter. Out of the male persons on stage, I'd definitely go with Paris, and then possibly have an angsty boy or two as lovers if I'd really feel like it. Paris seems to have more common sense, bigger incomes, and no crazy family following him around. Besides, both Zsolt Homonnay and Géza happen to match my taste in men more than the boys. :P

And goodness, someone please do something about Attila Németh's (the Prince) trousers. They're tight and show every detail there is to show. He could have gone there without trousers and I would have been less disturbed. (He also looked like he was going around commando.) The same goes for Ottília Csengeri's breasts that seem to have a personality of their own. I wonder why they haven't already added them to the cast list.

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04 tammikuuta 2012

Elisabeth - Operettszínház, Budapest 2010

 First, Zsolt Homonnay as the Death rocks. I think I've finally found my kind of Death, the kind of Death I could imagine meeting some day. Zsolt is majestic, dignified and somehow feels more mature than most Deaths I've seen, but underneath there's a volcano that he sometimes has a bit trouble to control. My friend described him as hot ice or something like that, which I think says it all. Zsolt also has a bit manlier features than (Hungarian) Deaths usually and generally he's less androgyne, less ethereal and less fairy-like when compared to especially Szilvester Szabó in the role. Szilveszter is the complete opposite and very Death-like and I liked him in the role, but in his case I can't personally relate to Elisabeth who falls in love with his Death. I prefer Men. I sometimes have problems with Zsolt's voice, but in this role he sounds perfect. His Der letzte Tanz is amazing, all badly hidden hurt pride and cynical mocking but still not too much. I love the moment when he takes a glass, puts another glass to the hand of the frozen Franz Joseph and does a silent "Cheers!" with him. Also the end of the song, when he raises his glass for the last note, waits until the applauds are over and then drinks it empty, is great. Purr, I'm in love.

Nikolett Füredi & Zsolt Homonnay. All photos: Operettszínház
Now, if only Zsolt had a make-up and clothes that fit him, I might consider letting his Death kiss me someday. But no, they've managed to give him too short and tight trousers made of white or black satin, shoes that look like galoshes and a shirt that my friend described as a glittered pajama. The coat looks fairly good, but the make-up doesn't fit his features at all and makes him resemble a slightly macabre drag queen. The same style looks perfect on the skinny Szilveszter, but with Zsolt they should have taken a new approach. Or at least made him trousers that cover his ankles, because now he reminds me of my high school German teacher.

Which leads us to my general problem with the Hungarian production: it premiered in 1996 and it shows. They should update it a bit, change the cheap-looking costumes and get rid of some of the useless trash on stage. They've got too much unimportant props and too much useless ensemble for my liking, and it makes the whole thing chaotic and quite ugly. The Death's angels with their 90's aerobic video choreographies just make me giggle. I actually like the basic sets, but I could live with them much better if there wasn't all this other stuff and people on stage. Now there's just too much everything and the important people and ideas that actually work drown into a mess.

The King and Queen of Hungary
I think it would also be good to update the libretto, since they still mostly use the translation of the original 1992 Vienna version and I think some of the later changes for example in the Prologue in German were made for a reason. No matter how pretty the song Útvesztő minden út (Kein Kommen ohne Geh'n) is, I think it's quite useless to again point out how much in love the Death is with Elisabeth, and the song is quite sugary compared to Death's usual style.

I thought I would never say this, but I actually liked Árpád Zsolt Mészáros as Lucheni. I still find the guy himself quite disgusting and can't watch him from very close because he's just eww, but I like his Lucheni. He's anarchistic enough, energetic, annoying in the good Lucheni-like way and I liked his chemistry with the Death. I can't take Tamás Földes seriously in almost any role, but Lucheni is definitely the worst of these cases, in my eyes he just lacks all Lucheni-ness. He's too middle-aged, both physically and attitude-wise.

Nikolett Füredi & Zsolt Homonnay
The Hungarians also have my two favourite Elisabeths: Nikolett Füredi and Bernadett Vágó. Both have a lovely strong voice (though Bernadett sometimes does the usual Operettszínház shouting in high notes), both can act very convincinly, and both really feel like Elisabeth. I somehow can't put my finger on it, but their ideas work. They definitely aren't similar, but I enjoy watching both portrayals. I'd like to see Kata Janza some day to know what I think of her Elisabeth, but her voice hurts my ears so I'm not sad about missing her on all the four times I've seen the Hungarian production.

The ensemble is good as well, and some details in the production work very nicely. Their Milch gives me goosebumps. I like it how the Death also comes for Sophie, and how Rudolf in the end of Der Hass runs to stage and to the middle of people's hate. It kind of motivates his Wenn ich dein Spiegel wär' and connects Der Hass better with the other scenes.

Attila Dolhai (Rudolf) & Zsolt Homonnay
I'd like to see Kentaur design the sets and costumes to Elisabeth. Hungarians have some of the best actors I've seen in the musical, and their psychological and dark take on the story works as an idea, but the sets, costumes and use of ensemble are too operetta-like and it doesn't match my idea of Elisabeth.

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Rebecca - Operettszínház, Budapest 2010

I really really like the production. There's the certain Operettszínház stamp on it (lots of smoke, random dancers, people being lifted up on platforms to sing big solos, etc.), but far less than I've this far seen in any other production there. The directing worked nicely, people had contact and chemistry with each other and I don't remember any scenes where something would have really felt wrong. No songs were removed or changed, but there were some little pieces of dialogue that I haven't heard before. For example, in the scene where Maxim tells about Rebecca's illness to Frank, in the end Frank says something like "You're free now" and Maxim answers "No, I'm not so sure".

Ensemble. All photos: Operettszínház
The Operettszínház has a strong tradition with operettas (well, duh) and you can see it in their musicals. For example, in Elisabeth they have attempted to transfer the directing style, sets and choreographies of an operetta into a drama musical, and IMO the result doesn't work. There's too much everything on stage. They've gradually learned something, though, so in Rebecca the operetta tradition is already much less visible, and the Epilogue must be the first time in the history of the theatre when we actually see a completely empty stage. :-P The choreographies of Ákos Tihányi worked very well, they were clear enough to look good and they didn't use too much people at the same time.

The sets were beautiful. They are very much based on the Vienna sets (lots of blue colour, the big staircase, the hotel, Rebecca's room with balcony and so on), but the set designer had created something original out of them and they mostly worked very well. There wasn't half as much useless props on the stage as usual, and people had enough space to move and dance and just be. They used a lot of projections and those looked natural.
Zoltán Bereczki & Dóra Szinetár
Acting-wise, I liked the actors. In Hungary actors generally can bring out emotions and details like in no other country where I've been to theatre, and the characters worked very well alone and together. But, but... I've got a general problem with the Operettszínház actors, and that's unfortunately their singing. It's not Hungarian actors in general, it's the actors of Operettszínház. I don't know why, perhaps they all have a common singing teacher. Apart from some exceptions, they tend to sound very forced and unnatural to my ears. I can't explain it very well, but it's like the sound wouldn't be coming out freely, there's something keeping it down. Every time they have to get even a tiny bit more voice out of them, they seem to be more shouting than singing. In most cases it doesn't disturb me too much and I can watch a production without agony, but I just don't enjoy the singing. Some voices really hurt my ears, though, and for example Zsuzsi Vágó (Ich) is one of them.

In the 2nd cast everyone except László Sánta sounded more or less bad to me. I like for example Zsuzsi's voice when she doesn't shout, but now she shouted a lot. I had feared what Kata Janza would sound like as Danvers, but in the end she wasn't that bad. Not good, but better than I had expected. The theatre has some sound tech problems too, and in some parts of the theatre the sound is quite sharp.

Danvers clearly had something wrong in the head, and I'm not yet sure if I like it or not. During "Sie ergibt sich nicht" she takes dead orchid petals in her hands and lets them slowly fall on floor while she sings, and in the end of the song she's sort of singing in a light rain of white orchid petals. Then she kneels at the orchid pots like at an altar. It worked nicely, but I could also do with a bit less of Danny's weirdness. Kata is a decent actor, very stiff and scary and powerful, but nothing spectacularly genious. I still kind of liked her obsessive interpretation, though it took some effect off of Danny's last snap when she hears the truth about Rebecca's death, as she had been crazy already before that. Veronika Nádasi was more normal and I liked her. Lilla Polyák has the best voice of the three, but I somehow couldn't get hold of her idea of the character well enough, I felt that she concentrated more on singing than on acting.

Kata Janza & Zsuzsi Vágó
László Sánta's Ben is scared of Rebecca. He's shaking, desperate, nearly hysterical, and IMO one of the strongest characters in the production. In him you can so well see what Rebecca really was like, and László played him excellently and had the best voice of the cast. Dávid Pirgel as Ben overacted a bit too much and was rather annoyingly retarded, more like a stereotype.

László Sánta
Szilveszter Szabó was quite stiff, but as Maxim he can at least use all that angsting potential he has and he did it well. This must be the first time I've seen him smile on stage. I'd have liked to see a bit more of the Maxim who feels at home in society, because there is also that side of him and he's not just a big bundle of angst and dark thoughts, but I assume Sziszi will find it sooner or later. In some ways he was very much like the Maxim in the novel. When I first saw the musical in Vienna, Uwe's romantic gestures as Maxim annoyed me because "my" Maxim never was very visibly in love. Here they had emphasized the lack of romance in Maxim's behaviour. It showed both in Sziszi's acting and in the scenes. In the wedding scene Ich had no bridal dress or flowers or anything, and after them another couple came out of the church with all that normal wedding fuss. Ich caught the bridal buquet, but Maxim took it and gave it to some wedding guest, making her much happier than what Ich seemed to be. Zoltán Bereczki as Maxim was more energetic, even hyper at some points, and though it wasn't exactly the way I'd imagine a British gentleman, in a way it still worked. Besides, he sings well.

Zsuzsi Vágó & Szilvester Szabó
Zsuzsi Vágó was a very sweet and fragile Ich, and I got the feeling that Ich really tried to be what she should be and make both herself and Maxim happy. The change in the 2nd act was amazing. Already the small hand gesture with which she told Frith that she doesn't want bread was full of lady-like attitude. She still had the scared side in her, but in the house she was now confident. I liked Dóra Szinetár's voice a bit more, but I preferred Zsuzsi's acting.
Dóra Szinetár & Lilla Polyák
I got the feeling that lots of the atmosphere we see is in the head of either Mrs Danvers or Ich. The production has a very psychological feeling in it, and it emphazises the dark sides of the story more than what I've seen in the other productions. One nice example I paid a lot of attention to are the shadows or ghosts or whatever they are. There are four female, a bit zombie-like creatures going around in Manderley, mostly in the darker scenes with Danvers and Ich. For example, they walk around Ich in the Prologue, and later she sees them in the mirrors of Rebecca's room, which I totally adored because there's a lot of mirror symbolism in the original novel and I'm fond of it. In the novel Ich sometimes sees Rebecca as her own mirror image, so they had used that idea here. During the Rebecca song in the 2nd act the mirrors start to haunt and follow Ich, and after that the creatures move more and more outside the mirrors, for example around the balcony when Danny tries to persuade Ich to jump. In that part they slightly disturbed me, they seemed to be too much and generally the scene wasn't very scary. I liked the creatures more when they were in the mirrors or just among the ensemble and not too highlighted, so they disturbed a bit in some scenes.

All in all, the directing was the best I've seen in this musical, and I also liked the staging a lot.

The masquerade
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Tanz der Vampire - Vienna revival 2009/2010

Generally the production is the best German-language whole production I've seen of TdV, though that's not yet much, as I'm not a big fan of the productions in Germany. Kentaur's sets are gorgeous, the colours are beautiful and I adore the religious symbolism he uses in the sets. There's visually so much to watch and to think about. The sets and costumes are mostly similar to the Budapest production, but in Vienna they have of course had more money to make them, though it hasn't automatically meant improvements. One detail that always makes me squee is the Jim Steinman look-alike ensemble vampire in the finale, I think it's a wonderful idea.

Still I feel that the production lacks some spirit. It's good and I liked to watch it, but it didn't really give me the lovely energetic feeling that TdV at its best does. I felt that the cast is pretty much just doing its work, and there was some true feeling, intensity and attitude missing, so much that I was bored at some points.

Much of this also depends on the conductor. In October 2009 we saw three different conductors (no idea of the names, sorry) and two of them failed to keep the orchestra and the ensemble together, with the result that for example Ewigkeit lacked all power and fell flat. The third was much better, and in April 2010 we had Caspar Richter who worked like a magician and had the whole performance 100 % under his control. The difference to the first two was very clear. In fact, I spent much of the performance just admiring Richter's working, which might also say something about my interest in the actors.

The cast

Krolock - Thomas Borchert
In autumn 2009 he seemed really stressed, so stressed that you could see it and it didn't do good for his acting. In April he was better, more relaxed and having fun and moving softly and beautifully. He sounds more divine than ever, there's something in his voice that I simply adore. It's deep, velvety, strong and beautiful. I first saw him as Krolock in
Hamburg in 2005 and then he was a very cold and cynical vampire. In the concerts there started to be more of the fun-having rock star in him, and now the cynical approach had returned with something else, of which I couldn't completely get the picture. He's more cold, distant and somehow more eternal-feeling than before. I must say I preferred the more alive-feeling concert-Krolock, because now there was definitely certain boredness in his interpretation, too.

Krolock - Alexander di Capri
I saw him twice in October and ended up liking him very much. He's a good actor with a good voice, and an extremely interesting Krolock, not the typical style but something very... special. He is very good in his own way, but I wouldn't like to see him as my first Krolock. In short, he seemed like a wicked little shaman who has spent too much time alone and forgotten how to interact with people, constantly forgot that people are hearing him when he thinks aloud, and generally just forgot the presence of other people. I definitely wouldn't follow his Krolock anywhere, but as a psychological character study on stage he was very fascinating.

Sarah - Marjan Shaki, Barbara Obermeier
I'm terribly sorry but I can't stand Marjan as Sarah. She usually either doesn't act or overacts, and her Sarah seems fake and unnatural and boring, much like a Barbie doll in many ways. She had some moments that I found interesting, but other than that my attention tended to wander from her to the sets or to the conductor. For example, the bathroom scene could be so much fun, but she doesn't get anything out of it, not even out of the "I have two" line that should be the easiest funny moment in the whole scene. She says it and that's it, nothing more. She's not seductive at all and I fail to see anything truly sexy in her, just the plastic-like Barbieness that isn't very appealing. Her voice is okay nowadays, still a bit too much breathing and sighing but not pain to my ears anymore. Her understudy Barbara Obermeier was much better in every possible way and made also Lukas Perman get more out of his role.

Alfred - Lukas Perman
My biggest problem with this production. Much like Marjan, he has about two facial expressions (smiling or scared) and his so-called acting is a pain to watch. His Alfred is whiny and has about one brain cell and, quoting Hermione from the Harry Potters, the emotional range of a tea spoon. Okay, Alfred isn't supposed to be as smart as the professor, but I don't see him as a complete idiot, either. Nothing seems to be going on in the head of Lukas!Alfred, he just stands there and plays the stereotypical pretty boy role and sings nicely and doesn't think or develop in the role at all. He's not Alfred, he's a Bambi-eyed Lukas looking pretty and singing prettily.

The problem with Alfred as a character is that there isn't much interesting written straight in the role, no memorable lines or anything. But the potential is there and the actor has to find and bring out the interesting aspects. In this Lukas totally fails. I've now seen him five times in the role in
Vienna, eight if you count the TAC concerts, and I'm definitely starting to have enough of him. Marjan is okay to watch, but seeing&hearing someone act as badly as Lukas makes me aggressive. I know I sound harsh in the case of these two, but I can't help it, I've tried hard to see something good in them but failed. I still want to go and kick Alfred whenever I think of Lukas. Marjan didn't cause that much aggressions and every now and then I liked something she did, but my gods, who has let Lukas Perman have a role that requires acting?

Professor Abronsius - Gernot Kranner, Martin Planz, Fernand Delosch
I've seen all three and all are good, even if Gernot has some legendary excellence brought by the years while the others are new in the role. Gernot!Abronsius genuinely likes Alfred and cares for him even if occasionally forgets it while concentrating on books, and he's a silly but very warm character. A bit too silly and warm even, I started to get annoyed with his silliness. Martin!Abronsius is smart and full of sharp logic, and he more just rolls his eyes at Alfred. I think we saw his premiere as Abronsius in autumn, and later we saw him again. Fernand Delosch was somewhere in between; if I remember right he was most like the nutty professor out of those three.

The ending had been slightly modified in
Vienna (later used in St. Petersburg). Abronsius sings the "Wir sind entkommen" part, but after that the music changes in tone and becomes dark and threatening. Abronsius notices that Alfred is gone and goes to look for him, and on the same time Krolock walks from the audience to the stage after Abronsius and starts to laugh. In October he followed Abronsius to the sets which pretty much looked like the Professor was going to be a vampire too, but in April Krolock stayed in the middle of the stage and was then lowered under it. The change makes the scene work a bit better, I like it when they leave the ending a bit more open and don't tell everything. Still I think that the whole scene tells too much and doesn't add anything to the story, on the contrary. However, Sarah and Alfred (and Krolock) joining the finale is a nice touch, even if I've always understood that S&A are a part of the "revolution" anyway, we just don't see them. It also wouldn't work with every Krolock, but in Vienna they had these younger rock-types.

It also depends on the Abronsius how this scene works. With Gernot Kranner it was upsetting, he was so worried of Alfred and it felt horrible to see a sweet old man almost scared for Alfred while Krolock approached him threateningly. With Martin Planz and Fernand Delosch I liked the scene a bit more, they didn't sound scared but only frustrated with the boy, and that matched the previous and the following scene much better. With Gernot the mood changed too much, from cheerful to distressed and then back to cheerful. Music-wise the added scene doesn't fit anything and feels out of place.

Herbert - Marc Liebisch
He's so sweet! This Herbert is totally a Drama Queen who wants to have all the attention, and yet under there is a little princess who dreams of the prince with a white horse. He has the usual gay stereotypes in the character, but he goes beyond them and has a real personality, too. I've never before seen a German-speaking Herbert who would be more than the boring stereotype, so Liebisch was a lovely surprise. Under all the sweetness he felt also damn dangerous.

The rest of the cast is okay, your basic good
Vienna quality with nothing specially mention-worthy. Generally I felt the production was the same: good, but nothing specially mention-worthy. The bad acoustics in Ronacher also disturbed a bit, and I was annoyed by the theatre staff who kept running around the auditorium, hunting for people who did anything with their cellphones. The staff broke the atmosphere more than the cellphone lights.

Link: Homepage of the production