Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Out and About

I usually devote a whole entry to the American Heartland Theatre productions I see, but frankly I have been busy and thus have had insufficient time to sit down and review. A chance to see the Kansas City Chamber Orchestra followed this past Monday. So, with a few minutes of down time before the demands begin, I submit my combined review of these two shows.

American Heartland Theatre's "Maybe Baby it's You" succeeded due to two fine actors and some subtle and sometimes not so subtly witty dialog. This is a light hearted work, as usual no real plot except the exploration of male/female relationships from dating through an elderly divorced couple realizing there is still some affection there. Of course, anything with the amazing Jesslyn Kincaid is worth the effort to see. As usual she was in fine form as the woman (the characters have no names), especially her brilliant channeling of Medea, the blind date of an unfortunate fellow. Newcomer Chase Ashurst made a splash in his AHT debut as the man with his physical comedy and fluid changes of character. As usual, not an earth shattering, life changing, disturbing or controversial evening of theatre, just a fine time with some fine actors giving us a break from all the above. "Maybe Baby It's You" runs through this weekend.

The Kansas City Chamber Orchestra is celebrating its 25 season next year, bringing chamber music to more intimate settings around town. This concert, at the grand Old Mission United Methodist Church in Mission, KS, was a new and quite satisfying venue for me. The previous KCCS performances I heard were in the horrible space that is Visitation Catholic Church, ugly, too open and "live" a space for concerts in my opinion. At Old Mission, the small strings only ensemble sounded warmer and larger, with better balance between the basses and the rest of the orchestra. This was a more varied and more "romantic" program than past encounters which leaned mostly on the baroque repertoire.

A finely done Finzi "Eclogue"(we do need to hear more of the wonderful and intimate music of Finzi) with KCCS Conductor and founder Bruce Sorrell on the piano, a lively early Divertimento (K138) from Mozart and a couple of chestnuts the "An Irish Melody: Londonderry Air)" by Frank Bridge (a kind of diffuse arrangement that did not come off well, the evening's only disappointment) and the Nocturne movement arranged for strings from Borodin's 2nd String quartet (known to Broadway musical fans as "This is my Beloved" from "Kismet") comprised the first half. The second half was comprised of Dvorak's wonderful Serenade for Strings in E op.22. Normally heard in a bit larger ensemble, the spacious and warm sound of the church worked well, making the small ensemble seem larger. The candlelit sanctuary of the church contributed to a fine evening of romantic chamber music, fitting for Valentine's day.

No comments: