Central City’s Our Town is simply moving
by Christie Connolley
Central City Opera regionally premiered Ned Rorem’s Our Town, based on the play by Thornton Wilder. Like the play, the operatic counterpart directed by Ken Cazan is marked by simplicity. Simple set, simple town, simple folk….simply amazing.
J.D McClatchy’s libretto and Ned Rorem’s score evoke the memory of a simple time, when front doors were left unlocked and your neighbor, Mrs. Soames knew everything about everyone in town (P.S. – I want to be Mrs. Soames when I grow up, if just for the amazing hats and feather boas). The orchestra, under the baton of Christopher Zemliauskas, illustrated that to the contrary, there is nothing simple about this music. The score is restrained and elegant, no lush harmonic progressions or sweeping melodies here. Overheard after the end of Act I, “This ain’t Verdi…” indeed.
Vale Rideout as the Stage Manager beautifully narrated the story walking the audience through the tale of this small town. (A side note fellow singers will love: He perfectly portrayed the snarky grin every stage manager flashes when placating a performer just before turning away to roll their eyes.)
William Ferguson was part boyish charm, part nerd (even though most nerds don’t need that much help with their math homework) and all tenor. Ferguson masterfully personified the youthful innocence of George Gibbs.
Anna Christy! ANNA CHRISTY, y’all! Christy portrayed Emily Webb with indelible depth and beauty. Her voice, warm and plummy embodied the joy of a girl falling in love, the nerves of a bride on her wedding day, and the immense sorrow of the afterlife. PS – If everyone gets a weave like that in the afterlife sign me up. She walked right out of a Pantene commercial and straight into the eternity.
Nearly every member of the cast was a standout singer and performer, especially John Hancock as Mr. Webb (get ready for this tall drink of water), Kevin Langan as Dr. Gibbs and Phyllis Pancella as Mrs. Gibbs.
Matinees at 2:30 pm: July 10, 12, 14, 24, 28
Evenings at 8:00 pm: July 6, 18, 20, 26
Tickets and more information: http://www.centralcityopera.org/ourtown