Monday, August 22, 2011

What's not to love about 'Aspects of Love'?

Photos by Shannan Denlinger
Jonathan Browning and Maria Damore star in 'Aspects of Love."
 By Cheryl Thornburg



Maria Damore, Kirk Lawrence and Anita Lewis
It never ceases to amaze me at the level of talent in this area.  Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Aspects of Love" is  a demanding production and Genesius Theatre's cast more than meets the demands.
The concert performance filled the Reading Public Museum's Atrium with incredible solos and duets, soaring to the glass rooftop.
The opening song, “Love Changes Everything,” sets the tone and stage for the series of complex relationships that embody this show.
Performed with power and passion by Jonathan Browning, it is the song that stays with you long after the curtain call. Browning plays Alex Dillingham, a 17-year old” young man from England who becomes infatuated with a French actress Rose Vibert played by Maria Damore.
Damore's Rose is seemingly confident with an underlying insecurity that makes her intriguing. She matches Browning note for note in power and passion. Their duet "Seeing is Believing" is memorable.   Her solo in the closing scene "Anything But Lonely," sums up her character.
Rose's affair with the much younger Alex is at the core of the plot as Webber explores the many "aspects of love."
Enter the first complication,  Alex's Uncle George who discovers the couple in his villa and also becomes beguiled by Rose.
Kirk Lawrence plays George Dillingham,  the uncle, with sophistication and charm and eventually, Rose falls in love with, and marries him.  Lawrence also gets to show off his vocal talents in duets with Browning in "She'd Be Far Better Off With You" and "The First Man You Remember" with his daughter Jenny played by Kathryn Ott. He particularly shines in his solo "Other Pleasures," as he sings to a young Jenny.
Jenny is played by two actresses.
Jenny at 12 is played by Kathryn Majesky. Her playful, innocent Jenny is delightful to watch as she sings the "Mermaid Song" with her cousin  Alex.
Jenny at 15 is played by Kathryn Ott whose Jenny is capricious and flirtatious with Alex. Her clear soprano shines in the father/daughter duet, "The First Man You Remember."
The feelings that develop between Jenny and Alex, add another level of depth to the story as Alex fights his feelings. Browning demonstrates his acting is on par with his singing in these scenes.
Another of the lovers in this complicated plot is “Giulietta,” an Italian sculptress, who is involved with George at the beginning of the story and remains his friend throughout his life. Anita Lewis plays this sensual beauty with a zest for life to perfection. Her vocals have a sultry, earthy quality to them that is captivating. Her solo, "There is More to Love," showcases her talent and her powerful rendition of the rousing "Hand Me the Wine and the Dice" at George's wake in the final act is stirring and poignant.
Another steadfast friend is Rose's manager, Marcel, who is there for her throughout her ups and downs in life. Jason Denlinger plays Marcel with subtlety, giving the impression that her too loves Rose. He finally gets to show off his vocal skills in "Leading Lady" in the second act.
Other supportive characters are Kathy Becker as George's housekeeper and Michael Contreras as Hugo, Rose's friend.
In addition, an ensemble cast backs up the key players throughout the production.  They are Eric Hassell, Brandon Kegerize, Gabrielle V. Lewis, Luis Pagan-Anderson, Pat Rehr, and Amy L. Serhienko.
Underlying the superb vocals was music by a fine orchestra that never overpowered the performers.
The production was directed by Christopher Sperat, with music direction by Dave Neel and choreography by Amanda Leam Guistwite,
The setting, put together in cooperation with the museum staff, plus hors d’oeuvres and dessert, offered a unique evening of theater that is worth experiencing. Unfortunately, the 3-day run is over, and you'll probably have to wait until next summer to  try it out.

Next up at Genesius in the theater at 10th & Walnut streets in Reading is "I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change." It opens Sept. 16. and runs through Sept. 25.  For more information, visit www.GenesiusTheatre.org.

1 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cheryl,

This is Chris Sperat. I was the Director of this production of ASPECTS OF LOVE. Thank you for your extraordinarily kind words about our production. But also, thank you for your undying support of our local projects. We certainly hope you know how much you and your efforts are appreciated!

August 23, 2011 at 11:07 AM 

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