The Glorious Ones A Musical with a Message

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SLOC has once again stretched its audience with its second production of the 95th season by producing a lesser-known and infrequently performed production of the musical The Glorious Ones. The show with book and lyrics by Lynn Aherns and music by Stephen Flaherty had its premiere in Pittsburgh in April 2007 and opened Off-Broadway in October of that year.  Set in 16th century Italy, the show focuses on a theatre group in the world of Commedia Dell’ Arte during the Italian Renaissance.

Photo by Audrey Carlton

 Whether set in the 16th or the 21st century, the machinations of a cast of players apparently transcend time. Internal relationships among the cast, be it romantic, philosophical or power struggles apparently know no time barriers. 

Flaminio Scala is the founder and leader of the troupe who casts people he meets as he travels around Italy. From a dwarf, a prostitute, a tailor, a quack of a doctor whose elixirs don’t work, an aspiring street performing comic, and a young noblewoman who writes stories much to her parent’s disdain. The play evolves into a play within a play with many of the real-life storylines taking place in the fictional play. If that sounds at all familiar, think,  Cole Porter’s Kiss Me Kate, based on Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew. 

Photo by Audrey Carlton

Quite honestly, The Glorious Ones feels as if it borrows heavily from many shows that came before it. The young lovers could have stepped out of The Fantasticks, including references to the moon. Director and Scenic Designer Brian Clemente’s single set of a stage on a stage could easily be used in the Fantasticks with no alterations necessary. We also find allusions to Fiddler, The Producers, and probably an assortment of other shows that the author must have had a very strong relationship with either consciously or subconsciously that have manifested themselves in this show.

That being said, the show offers some wonderful comic moments and some stunning moving ones. With one exception, the cast led by the very talented James Alexander are all SLOC stalwarts, returning with an impressive list of credentials. Alexander’s rich robust voice casts a powerful blanket whether speaking or singing offers the audience glimpses of perfection. His rendition of I was Here, is the penultimate moment for both Alexander and his character, it is strong moving and reminiscent of a young Alfred Drake.  Jack Boggan’s pantomime is something that Marcel Marceau would have been proud of.  Elizabeth Sherwood-Mack traverses the lines of comedienne to a stirring dramatic performance of the final number Armanda’s Sack.

Photo by Audrey Carlton

The cast is rounded out by Elizabeth Corey as Columbina, the love interest for Flaminio, Benjamin Hitrick and Emily Mack Hass, the young lovers, Kevin O’Toole as Pantalone, the Tailor all are given their moments to shine and shine they do.

The idea of seeing something beyond the run-of-the-mill Broadway standards is very appealing for a chance to cleanse one’s theatrical palette. 

Musical Director Robert Soricelli has managed to pull the very best out of this cast and makes the evening entertaining and enjoyable.  

Photo by Audrey Carlton

The show leaves us with a message about life and life’s choices. What’s the message?  You’ll need to stop by the Franklin Street Theater and find out for yourself.  The one-act show runs about an hour forty-five but you’ll find it to be time well spent. Kudos to SLOC for going out a bit of an artistic limb to present us with something unusual (and yet oddly familiar) entertaining and challenging.

Performances continue November 18, 19, and 20 at 8 pm and November 21 at 2 pm at Schenectady Light Opera Company, 427 Franklin Street, Schenectady. Ticket prices range from $25 to $32. For tickets and information, call 518-730-7370 or visit tickets.sloctheater.org.

Photo by Audrey Carlton
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