Praise for “Berlin to Broadway”

Praise for “Berlin to Broadway”

Photo c/o Eva Tamsky Soloists Eva Tamsky ‘17 (left) and Sarah Phelan ‘15 (right) performed the Musical Voyage decked in vintage apparel.

Photo c/o Eva Tamsky
Soloists Eva Tamsky ‘17 (left) and Sarah Phelan ‘15 (right)
performed the Musical Voyage decked in vintage apparel.

Pacific Operatic Theatre performed in “Berlin to Broadway with Kurt Weill: A Musical Voyage” on Sunday, Oct. 2 in the Alex and Jeri Vereschagin Alumni House.

Each song was pulled from a variety of pieces by Kurt Weill (1900-1950), such as “The Threepenny Opera,” reports the University’s website.

“These are very interesting pieces written over a period of time,” commented Giulio Ongaro, the dean of the Conservatory of Music. Weill, a German composer popular in the United States, is described as “one of the most versatile and influential theater composers of the twentieth century” by the Kurt Weill Foundation for Music.
In the conference room of the Alumni House, a piano with a lamppost attached to it was set in the middle of the room and tables encircled it. Three steps were arranged around the piano to give the performers, dressed in vintage apparel, a pedestal.

The performance began with an introduction and seven songs from “The Threepenny Opera,” including “Mack the Knife” and “Barbara Song.” The next four songs were pulled from “Happy End,” and a few selections were pulled from “Johnny Johnson” and “Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny.”

A triad of songs, such as “Ain’t It Awful the Heat?,” were selected from “Street Scene,” which Musical Digest in 1947 opined to be “the best contemporary musical production to grace any American stage,” reports the foundation. Two songs, including “The Saga of Jenny,” were picked from “Lady in the Dark,” which the Boston Globe greatly admired in a 2000 review:

“In its scope and complexity of invention the score stands as one of the half-dozen finest ever composed for Broadway.”

The performance ended with two songs from “Lost in the Stars.”

Burr Phillips was the music director and James Haffner served as the stage director. Amanda Tonkin was the stage manager and Jacqueline Santoni worked as the assistant stage manager, states the program guide.

“Setting sail in 1920s Berlin, Mr. Weill’s cross-continental and international travels are described with immaculately crafted narration surrounded by the composer’s most noteworthy works,” declared the University’s website.

In a setting Natalie Zorovic ‘90 described as intimate, audience members sat close to the performers. “I was just in awe,” expressed Zorovic.

Ann Chargin, a judge that graduated from Humphreys Law School in Stockton, Calif., “loved the performance,” and believed the performers were well-prepared. “It was excellent,” confirmed Chargin.

Zorovic, a graduate from Pacific’s Conservatory and now a music director at a church, asserted the singers had excellent voices, were well-coordinated and danced in sync.

Zorovic thought the energy and enthusiasm were incredible, and she enjoyed being so close to the action. “I’m glad I did this,” reflected Zorovic, who traveled from Sacramento, Calif. to witness the performance.

Miniature desserts were on a tray at each table, and guests could choose from red and white wine, as well as water.
Gene Lerner, one of the play’s original producers, devised the text and format, and Newton Wayland provided the musical arrangements, states the program guide. The performance was presented through a special arrangement by Music Theatre International.

Ongaro revealed that the conservatory puts on over 120 events each year. “We are very proud of the fact that we think we are a huge resource for the arts in San Joaquin County.” Ongaro contends that audience members can expect high-quality singing, acting and music.

Ongaro revealed that the spring performance is fully-staged, while the fall performance is more of a cabaret and less grand.

Pacific Opera Theatre will perform Mozart’s “The Goose of Cairo” in collaboration with the University Symphony Orchestra between March 19-21 at 8 p.m. and March 22 at 2 p.m. in the Faye Spanos Concert Hall.

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Nicole Felkins

Editor In Chief at The Pacifican