A drama by Peter Shaffer; Directed by Eric van Baars
Vienna, Austria, in the late 18th century — the glorious mecca for musicians — is the setting for this brilliant, highly fictionalized dramatization of a great struggle for power and artistic dominance between two famous yet dissimilar composers. Antonio Salieri is the securely established and favored composer in the court of Austrian Emperor Joseph II who confronts a fierce rival in the ferociously outlandish Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
The action in Amadeus unfolds in flashbacks as an elderly Salieri looks back on his tempestuous encounter years earlier with Mozart. In the late 18th century, Salieri reigned as the securely established and favored composer in the court of Austrian Emperor Joseph II. From a distance, Salieri had always admired the work of his fellow composer Mozart. Up close, however, Mozart’s outrageous personal attributes prove to be too much to handle for the refined Salieri.
The ferociously uncouth, giggly, loud and profane Mozart delights in flouting social conventions – thus enraging the controlling, conformist Salieri. As Mozart’s fame increases, Salieri’s professional jealousy begins to burn. And even when he ignores Mozart’s bizarre behavior, Salieri is also smart enough to realize that Mozart’s prodigious talents as a composer serve to expose just how average his own musical talents are.
Salieri begins to question why God would grant such beautiful ability to such a coarse opportunist as Mozart. Unable to accept that God would choose Mozart over himself as the beneficiary of such musical genius, Salieri rejects God and vows to destroy Mozart as a means of revenge against his Creator.
Thrilling in its theatricality, and often wickedly funny, Amadeus reveals the consequences of a battle between competence and genius. The play poses a simple question: If genius is truly an uncommon gift, can those who pursue fame of fortune accept the destiny of ordinariness that is the fate of most people?
(Photo credit: At right, Alex Cikra (rear) plays Antonio Salieri and Ryan C. Nehlen plays Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Photo for Weathervane Playhouse by Scott Diese.)
Amadeus is a Project STAGE production. Project STAGE stands for Students Through Acting Gain Education. Discounted tickets are available for school groups for the 10 a.m. performance of this play on Thursday, March 29, 2012. This "school matinee" also includes a post-performance "talk-back" discussion with the play's actors.
Weathervane Playhouse's Project STAGE productions are supported by by the generous support of Akron Community Foundation, Kenneth L. Calhoun Charitable Trust, The Margaret Clark Morgan Foundation, The Mary S. and David C. Corbin Foundation and Omnova Soluntions Foundation.
ABOUT THE PLAY'S PRODUCTION HISTORY
Amadeus was first performed at the National Theatre of Great Britain in London, England, where it opened on Nov. 2, 1979. The production then transferred to London’s West End theater district for a commercial run. In England, the play was nominated for four Olivier Awards and won the 1979 Evening Standard Award for Best Play. In America, the play opened at the Broadhurst Theatre in New York City on Dec. 17, 1980. After five previews and 1,181 performances, the Broadway production closed on Oct. 16, 1983. The New York production won five Tony Awards (including Best Play). During the 1980s, playwright Peter Shaffer returned to his play, revising and rewriting his script several times. In 1998, a new production featuring Shaffer’s changes opened at the Old Vic in London. This revival also came to America, playing first at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles prior to its Broadway opening at the Music Box Theatre on Dec. 15, 1999. The New York revival earned two Tony Award nominations, and it ran for 173 performances before closing on May 14, 2000. Most audiences know Amadeus from its 1984 film adaptation. Directed by Milos Forman, the movie version of the play was nominated for 11 Academy Awards and won eight (including Best Picture).
This production marks the second time that Weathervane Playhouse has produced Amadeus. The first production, directed by Bob Belfance, played on our stage in February 1985.
Alex Cikra (at left) plays Antonio Salieri and Ryan C. Nehlen plays Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
(Photo for Weathervane Playhouse by Scott Diese.)
ALEX CIKRA (Antonio Salieri) – The first play Alex acted in was a Weathervane production of William Gibson’s A Cry of Players 35 years ago. Since then, many appearances have followed at Weathervane and at other community theaters in the Akron/Canton/Cleveland area, as well as some delightful summers spent performing Shakespeare on the west terrace of Stan Hywet Hall. Most recently, he appeared as Dilwyn Knox in Weathervane’s Breaking the Code. Alex lives in Hartville with his wife, Cathy.
RYAN C. NEHLEN (Mozart) is thrilled to be making his debut performance at Weathervane Playhouse, portraying one of his historical idols. Ryan has previously appeared at The Players Guild in Canton as Ryan Rexeisen in the world-premiere production of Then Waves and as John Merrick in The Elephant Man, which won him a Golden Guild Award for Best Lead Actor in a Comedy or Drama. Subsequent performances included Orlando in the Canal Fulton Players’ production of As You Like It, and Daniel Kaffee in A Few Good Men (also at The Players Guild). Ryan thanks his graciously collaborative cast and crew, his dear friends, his remarkably supportive and loving family and Maria, for being his guide, inspiration and muse. “Enjoy the show!”
ANNA BRADLEY (Constanze Weber) has learned so much sharing the stage with this remarkable cast and is so happy to be a part of such a beautiful piece of work. She takes this opportunity to thank her Mom and Sister, who've listened to many a note go flat throughout the years as she turned their suburban home into her personal rehearsal studio. Endless thanks to her father who has driven MANY miles so that she could dream her “impossible dream.”Says Anna, “I love you always. Thanks to Eric for this opportunity and M.G. for, well – everything. I love you. This show is dedicated to my Mom. XO!”
DON HILLENBRAND (Joseph II) – Thirty-one years ago, Don appeared in his first play right here on the Weathervane stage. He had four lines and a life-changing experience. Since then he's played presidents and patriots, custodians and kings, while doing Shakespeare and dinner theater and everything in between. He's incredibly pleased to be back once again at the place where it all began. Thanks go to his wife, Paula, for letting him get away with this.
TODD SHAVER (Count von Strack) is glad to be part of this exceptional cast. He was an ensemble member of the Shakespeare in Hollywood cast this past October at Weathervane Playhouse. Most recently, Todd performed the role of Cupid in The Eight: Reindeer Monologues at the Hudson Players. Todd thanks Eric for giving him this opportunity to be back on the Weathervane stage. Special thanks for the support of his family and friends. He wishes his father could have lived to see this incredible production. “Thank you, again, for your support, Dad.”
RICHARD WORSWICK (Count Orsini-Rosenberg) was most recently on Weathervane’s stage as a replacement actor in both It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play and Shakespeare in Hollywood. Also this season, he has stage managed 3 Guys Naked from the Waist Down and Shine! Some of the previous Weathervane productions Richard has appeared in are Breaking the Code; The Goat or, Who is Sylvia?; Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me; Love! Valour! Compassion!; The Chosen; The Laramie Project; The Mystery of Irma Vep; The Dinner Party; Noises Off; The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife and The Sisters Rosensweig. Richard has also performed at Coach House Theatre, where he last appeared in The Philadelphia Story, and also with Ohio Shakespeare Festival, The Bang and Clatter Theatre, Dobama Theatre, Charenton Theatre Company, Cleveland Play House and PlayhouseSquare Center.
TIMOTHY KELLEY (Baron van Swieten) is a life-long resident of Akron and a graduate of The University of Akron with a B.A. degree in Theatre. He has been in several shows at Weathervane including It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play, Enchanted April, Wait Until Dark and Much Ado about Nothing. He has also done shows for Coach House Theatre, Actors’ Summit and worked for Carousel Dinner Theatre and Kenley Players.
JASON GEORGE (Venticello 1) is from Columbus, Ohio, where he graduated from Westland High School. Currently, he is a senior at Kent State University, earning a Bachelor’s degree in Theatre Studies. Past roles include Hal in David Auburn’s Proof and Buddy in Chase Ziegler’s Scarecrow Family Dinner. Jason is happy to be a part of Amadeus, and hopes you enjoy it!
CHASE ZIEGLER (Venticello 2) is a junior at Kent State University where he is studying acting and film. At Kent, he has starred in productions of The Crucible and Mr. Marmalade and also wrote and directed a show entitled Scarecrow Family Dinner. This is his first show at Weathervane Playhouse and he says that it has been a fantastic experience. “Thanks to Eric for this opportunity and thanks to his fellow cast members. I am a Venticelli. The end.”
JOHN GRAFTON (Major Domo/Kapellmeister) is a retired marketing manager from The Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. and is appearing on stage for the first time at Weathervane Playhouse. He most recently was awarded a Chanticleer Award for designing props for The Goat or, Who is Sylvia? Also for Weathervane Playhouse, John designed props for Love! Valour! Compassion!, worked crew for Man of La Mancha, The Rainmaker, The Mystery of Irma Vep and Shakespeare in Hollywood, and was Assistant Stage Manager for Shine! earlier this season. John has assisted with set construction at the Bang and Clatter Theatre Company and at Coach House Theatre. John’s forte is as a household handyman and chef. He has served on several Weathervane Gala committees and has enjoyed meeting many of the Weathervane community. John thanks his partner, Richard, for his tolerance and coaching.
KIM GUNZINGER (Salieri's Cook) was born in Minot, N.D. to an Air Force family and spent most of her youth traveling all around the world. Her family finally settled in the Washington, D.C. metro area, where they still reside today. Kim has participated in various productions during her junior high and high school years, which include plays such as Alice in Wonderland, The Glass Menagerie and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. This is her first time back in theater because she has spent the past 10 years concentrating on music and vocal development. She lives in Canton now and plans to be more actively involved in the performing arts.
JASEN J. SMITH (Salieri's Valet) joined the Weathervane professional staff in August 2008 as its Resident Costume Designer and Costume Shop Manager — but he has also acted in several Weathervane productions. In 2008, he played Arthur Pape in Love! Valour! Compassion! In 2009, he played Mr. Marks in Intimate Apparel and the roles of Jacob and Potiphar in that year's production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. And in 2010, he played Mr. Bennet in Pride and Prejudice.
SHANNON BROWN (Teresa Salieri) returns to our stage after performing in our Dietz Theater production of Intimate Apparel in 2009 and our Mainstage production of The Great White Hope in 2010. She owns and operates a commercial cleaning business and specializes in construction. She has been employed by the Playhouse since 2000. She was a member of the Akron Hibernian Club and still assists her mother with catering. Shannon thanks everyone for this special experience and dedicates her performance to her Uncle Pat.
EMILY SCHRADER (Katherina Cavalieri) – After appearing as Baby June in Gypsy in 2002, Schrader is honored to be back on the Weathervane stage. A sophomore musical theatre major at Kent State University, some of her other favorite roles from past productions are Anne Frank in The Diary of Anne Frank (New Castle Playhouse), Anita in West Side Story (Ursuline High School) and Hodel in Fiddler on the Roof (New Castle Playhouse). Besides the performing arts, other interests include babysitting, tennis, speech coaching and spending time with loved ones. She sends special thanks and broken legs to director Eric van Baars and the immensely talented cast and the crew of this production, and to Anna Bradley “for introducing me to it all.” Emily also sends her love and endless thanks to “my amazingly supportive family and friends. For my grandfathers, always.”
THE CREATIVE TEAM
ERIC VAN BAARS previously directed and choreographed Weathervane Playhouse's 2011 production of the musical Pippin, which was last season’s winner of the Playhouse’s Chanticleer Award for Best Production. Also for Weathervane, he directed The Sum of Us in 2010 and The Wiz in 2002. He also choreographed Weathervane's Fiddler on the Roof in 2002. As Assistant Artistic Director for Porthouse Theatre, he has directed Pump Boys and Dinettes and Dames at Sea and choreographed A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Once on This Island and Big River. He has choreographed for the Halle Theatre (Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and A…My Name Will Always Be Alice), St. Louis Repertory (Into the Woods), Connecticut Repertory (Once on This Island) and Cain Park (Big River, Fiddler on the Roof and The Sound of Music) and directed productions of The Melody Lingers On for Berea Summer Theatre, and Tintypes and Grease for Cain Park. At Kent State University, where he is a professor in the School of Theatre and Dance, his directorial credits include The Diviners, Lysistrata, On the Verge, Honk!, The Wild Party and A New Brain. Also at KSU, he served as guest director for the opera programs Opera 101 and One Act Wonders in the Hugh A. Glauser School of Music. This past fall, he served as a Roe Green Visiting Guest Artist for the School of Theatre at the University of Colorado at Boulder. He is a member of the Society of Directors and Choreographers. Says Eric, “I am so grateful to the wonderful cast and fabulous designers for all their work on this play. Play on!”
LANE TAYLOR SMERGLIA (Stage Manager) is excited to continue her work here at Weathervane, as well as being able to work with Eric van Baars again. Lane is working on her graduate degree in Theatre Education at The University of Akron. She has been unseen as a stage manager for the Mad Arts, The Univerity of Akron, Heads Up Productions and Weathervane. She has done shows such as Hamlet ESP, The Sum of Us, BET Spring Bling, Sonya Flew, Trojan Women and Heart of a Dog. Lane thanks this AMAZING cast for their hard work and dedication, the staff at Weathervane, and Eric van Baars. She also thanks her parents for their support and love through the years.
TODD DIERINGER (Scenic Designer) is no stranger to Weathervane. Past credits include scenic design for our productions of The Sisters Rosensweig, Children of a Lesser God, Man of La Mancha, and this season’s Three Tall Women. He also has served as properties co-designer for The Wedding Singer and properties designer for Pippin. Todd helps build scenery for many of our productions and serves as the chair of the properties department on the Weathervane Production Board. During the day, Todd serves as the systems administrator in the admissions office at The University of Akron. Todd thanks his family and friends for their constant support in his creative endeavors.
IAN S. HABERMAN (Sound Designer) was last seen at Weathervane as Uncle Adolph in The Last Night of Ballyhoo, for which he won a Chanticleer Award. His other Weathervane credits include sound design for Breaking the Code and The Diary of Anne Frank (Chanticleer Award) and the role of Sancho in Man of La Mancha (Chanticleer Award), as well as roles in And the Winner Is, The Sisters Rosensweig, The Rocky Horror Show, Wit and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Forum. He also won Chanticleer awards for his performances in Little Shop of Horrors, Conversations with My Father and Doubles. Ian is currently on our Board of Trustees and has served as President of the Board. He has twice received the Trustees Award.
MICHAEL A. SFERRO (Lighting Co-Designer) has been working in theatre for 17 years. In that time he has designed or stage-managed more than 200 productions in high school, community, college, and professional venues. His work at Weathervane began back in the summer of 1995, when he worked as an assistant lighting designer for Loot. Currently, Michael is the Production Manager for the Medina Performing Arts Center and is privileged to work with the students there. Additionally, he designs lighting for The Chapel in Akron. As an arts advocate, Michael is chairman of Cameo, producer of the large-scale summer musicals in Medina, and has been instrumental in bringing the Akron Symphony to Medina County audiences. Amadeus is very near and dear to Michael, and he is ecstatic to create the lighting for this wonderful show with such an amazing creative team. By day, Michael is an Assistant Vice President for Citizens Bank.
JULIA (J.J.) MCADAMS (Lighting Co-Designer) was properties designer for this season’s production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and she was both the properties co-designer and assistant stage manager for last season’s Young Actor Series production of Art of Deduction: Inside the Mind of Sherlock Holmes. Her Weathervane stage-managment credits also include Seussical and Pride and Prejudice.
KAREN BURRIDGE (Properties Designer) is always glad to be back at Weathervane. "It always feels like home here," she says. In the last year she has costumed at Western Reserve Playhouse (Be My Baby), at Weathervane Playhouse (3 Guys Naked from the Waist Down) and Firestone High School (Elephant’s Graveyard and Legally Blonde: The Musical). “But," she adds, "it always feels good to be back stage, and I'm delighted to be working with such a talented group of actors.”
JASEN J. SMITH (Costume Designer) joined the Weathervane professional staff in August 2008 as its Resident Costume Designer and Costume Shop Manager. Since then, he has designed costumes for the Playhouse's productions of Children of Eden, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Bloody Murder, Intimate Apparel and Pride and Prejudice among others. His co-costuming credits include Putting It Together (with Adam Thatcher) and Man of La Mancha (with Hedy Jones), the latter of which earned him and his collaborator the Chanticleer Award for best costume design. Jasen also won the 2009 Marquee Award for Best Costume Design from the Youngstown Area Community Theatre Association for his work on Children of Eden. His other regional costume-design credits include Porthouse Theatre, Case Western Reserve University and the Ohio Light Opera (Pirates of Penzance, The Mikado, Robin Hood and The Merry Widow).