The legendary diva, Maria Callas, is resurrected in Two-Time Jeff Award Winner Kelli Harrington. Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre presents MASTER CLASS.
Playwright Terrence McNally penned a tribute to the opera sensation. His Tony Award-winning play focuses on the retired singer’s 1971-1972 stint teaching at Julliard in NYC. McNally reflects on Callas’ professional and personal prima donna presence as she interacts with students. The story unfolds as musings from a woman confident in her capabilities and annoyed with the theatre world.
Under the expert direction of Fred Anzevino, Kelly Harrington is the ultimate diva. Harrington transfixes with every word, every gesture, every movement. She has the perfect balance of pride and resignation. She demands a pillow with habitual entitlement. Later, she brutally critiques a student’s outfit choice. Both moments are delivered with a sophisticated elegance that adds to the hilarity. Although Harrington is deliciously over-the-top affected, her performance is subtly controlled. Harrington, as Callas undoubtedly was, never drops the veil of professionalism. Her demand is for integrity to the art. Some of the best moments are Harrington modeling the passion she is requiring in her students.
The students (Kevin R. Siembor, Ashlee Hardgrave, Rachel Klippel) each take a turn singing an aria. There is no doubt this is indeed a master class because they each master it. Hardgrave and Klippel even continue to sing through Harrington’s ongoing criticism. Since the audience serves as the rest of the class, I’m torn between the humor and the humiliation for a fellow classmate. When Siembor serenades with a powerful “Recondita armonia” from “Tosca,” Harrington’s reaction seems truly authentic. In that one moment, we get a deeper understanding of who Maria Callas was.
Theo Ubique always impressively transforms its intimate space completely. This time Scenic Designer Adam L. Veness creates a wood-paneled classroom. The checkered backdrop is more 1970s chic than basement remodel. It sets the stage for the mastery to be actualized.
I loved MASTER CLASS. The only thing missing was Harrington singing. Having heard Harrington sing , I was looking forward to her vocal stylings. Alas, McNally’s script stays true to Callas’ retired vocal cords.
Running Time: Two hours includes an intermission
Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre at No Exit Café, 6970 N. Glenwood
Written by Terrence McNally
Directed by Fred Anzevino
Music direction by Jeremy Ramey
Thursdays at 7:30pm
Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm
Sundays at 7pm
Thru November 28th
Buy Tickets at www.theo-u.com
Production photo by Adam Veness