Theatre in the Circle
Once again, partners Bill and Mark Corcoran, this time as Director/Music Director and Producer, bring their Judson Manor magic to life. The current offering is the heartwarming musical “Gift of the Magi.” The original material is a short story, written by O. Henry (a pen name for William Sydney Porter), about a young married couple and how they deal with the challenge of buying secret Christmas gifts for each other with very little money. As a sentimental story with a moral lesson about gift-giving, it has been a popular one for adaptation, especially for presentation at Christmas time. You will see the ending a mile away, but it plays out nicely as if Hallmark and Lifetime, decided to make people cry, but with a musical kleenex. However, this production comes from Peter Eckstrom who provided the Adaptation, Music, and Lyrics.
As the quaint and struggling love birds, Meg Martinez as Della, and Robert Kowalewski as Jim are wonderful in both voice, and their endearing characters. Martinez has a beautiful operatic tone and lands high notes as if she was throwing kernels of popcorn and effortlessly snatching them out the air. Kowalewski’s baritone finds a rich and fertile ground in the piece and shines throughout the production. Both of these artists blend beautifully.
The musicians brought together for this production are phenomenal. Piano and Conductor Elias Manos, McKinley Glasser on Cello, Elizabeth Root on Flute, and Grace Cross on Harp. They sound incredible. and may I say, what a pleasure to hear a piece where the Harp is so prevalent, and the musical is freaking amazing. What a joy!
Speaking of the sound, it was the best ever. I thought the lighting and sound were top-rate. Kudos to David Palmer/Network Sound. Walter Boswell did a very good job of turning the set into an intimate apartment setting. And along with the lighting, very nice moments were enhanced throughout the production.
To be fair, I have to say that this kind of show is not my personal favorite. First of all, I don’t think any pancake house will run out of syrup anytime soon. I was glad to have my insulin pen with me, so I didn’t drive off the road on the way home. But that is about the show. Not this production, in which talent was in full force on all fronts.
There is a matinée left Sunday, December 17th, at 2 pm. Bring your parents, grandparents out for a wonderful reminder of what the holidays should be about. Sharing love with each other, not a Black Friday or Cyber Monday deal. We all need to find the true meaning of life love and support, especially during these times.
Cleveland Stage Alliance