The story is set in, yes, three Decembers, each ten years apart. A handy synopsis helps set the scene, but it's pretty clear from the show. We begin in 2006, with Bea and Charlie at the memorial service for their mother, famed stage actor Madeline Mitchell. They begin reading the letters she sent them at Christmas every year (because she was often off doing something exciting). We then flash back to 1986, with the two siblings on opposite coasts, Charlie dealing with his partner Burt's AIDS diagnosis, Bea a young mother of two children with a troubled marriage. Bea watches her mother in her Broadway debut, and afterwards they have a discussion of Maddie's lack of support for Charlie. Ten years later, in 1996, Burt has died and Charlie is grieving. Maddie has been nominated for a Tony Award, and her children show up to support her. Things are contentious, as they often are with Maddie and her children, and some truths come out. We circle back to the memorial service, with Bea and Charlie coming to terms with who their mother was and who she wasn't, and loving her anyway.
(Anthony Potts, Siena Forest, Norah Long, photo courtesy of Skylark)
|... to pajam|
(Anthony Potts, Norah Long, Siena Forest, photo courtesy of Skylark)
Gary Briggle has been serving as Interim Artistic Director since the departure of Robert Neu, and after this show is passing the baton to the new Artistic Director James Barnett. Gary deserves kudos first for choosing this lovely and rare gem of an opera as the final show in his tenure as AD, secondly for the perfect casting, and last but not least for directing and staging the piece so beautifully. The story is clear, the emotions are true, and the aesthetics are stunning (including some gorgeous lighting cues, designed by Karin Olson). Under Music Director Carson Rose Schneider (who plays the piano along with second pianist Eric McEnaney), this modern opera score sounds gorgeous and emotionally evocative.
Only four performances remain of this gorgeous modern opera, which really couldn't be performed any better than Skylark's production. If you're an opera fan, you might enjoy seeing the smaller more intimate side of opera. And if you think you're not an opera fan, this is an excellent piece to begin to expand your music-theater experiences. Click here for more info and to purchase tickets, then head on down to Uptown before the show closes on May 21. And if you can make it to the matinee today, May 14, use code MOMDAY for $25 tickets!