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'Amadeus' Depicts the Fierce Rivalry Between Two Famous Musicians in a Fight between Competence and Genius

Friday, March 16, 2012 8:09:00 PM

(Feb. 16, 2011 – Akron, Ohio – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE) – Weathervane Playhouse continues its 77th Mainstage season with the Tony Award-winning drama, Amadeus. This tale depicting a fierce rivalry between two real-life musical composers is presented live on stage between March 29 and April 15, 2012. The production is directed by Eric van Baars.

Vienna, Austria in the late 18th century – a glorious mecca for musicians – is the setting for this brilliant and highly fictionalized dramatization of a great struggle for power and artistic dominance between two famous yet absolutely dissimilar composers: Antonio Salieri and 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.

As Salieri mounts his campaign of destruction, he deludes Mozart and pretends to be his friend in order to manipulate and undermine him. But in the face of Mozart’s precocious talent, can Salieri accept his own mortal mediocrity?

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?

Weathervane’s Amadeus Performance and Ticket Information

Amadeus plays on the Weathervane Playhouse Founders Theater stage between March 29 and April 15, 2012.

The low-cost preview performance is Thursday, March 29 at 7:30 p.m.; the official opening-night performance is Friday, March 30 at 8 p.m.

Between March 29 and April 15, 2012, the performance days and times are Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and two Sundays only – April 1 and 15 – at 2:30 p.m. (There is no performance on Easter Sunday, April 8.) In addition, one “school-day matinee” performance is scheduled for Thursday, March 29 at 10 a.m.

Tickets for the March 29 preview performance only (at 7:30 p.m.) are $15 each. Tickets for performances after March 29 are $21 each.

$19 tickets for seniors are available for Thursday and Sunday performances. Tickets for children (ages 17 or younger) and college students are $5 each at all performances. Additional discounts for groups of 12 or larger are also available.

The Weathervane Playhouse Box Office is open Mondays between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., Tuesdays through Fridays between 10 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. and is also open beginning one hour before each performance. For tickets, visit or call the Weathervane Box Office at (330) 836-2626 during Box Office hours or connect online to www.weathervaneplayhouse.com.

The Amadeus Cast and their Ohio Residences

Alex Cikra (of Hartville) plays the role of Antonio Salieri

Ryan Nehlen (of Canton) plays the role of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Anna Bradley (of Kent) plays the role of Costanze Weber

Donald Hillenbrand (of Jackson Township) plays the role of Joseph II, Emperor of Austria

Todd Shaver (of Akron) plays the role of Count Johann Kilian von Strack

Richard Worswick (of Bath Township) plays the role of Count Franz Orsini-Rosenberg

Timothy Kelley (of Akron) plays the role of Baron Gottfried van Swieten

Jason George (of Kent) plays the role of Venticelli No. 1

Chase Zeigler (of Kent) plays the role of Venticelli No. 2

John Grafton (of Bath Township) plays the roles of Major-Domo and Kapellmeister Guiseppe Bonno

Jasen J. Smith (of Akron) plays the role of Salieri’s Valet

Kim Gunzinger (of Canton) plays the role of Salieri’s Cook

Shannon Brown (of Akron) plays the role of Teresa Salieri

Emily Schrader (of Kent) plays the role of Katherina Cavalieri

The Amadeus Backstage Team and their Ohio Hometowns

Stage Manager – Lane Smerglia (of Akron)

Costume Designer – Jasen J. Smith (of Akron)

Sound Designer – Ian S. Haberman (of Sharon Center)

Properties Designer – Karen Burridge (of Brimfield Township)

Lighting Co-Designers – Mike Sferro (of Medina) and Julia “J.J.” McAdams (of Cuyahoga Falls)

Scenic Designer – Todd Dieringer (of Wadsworth)

Technical Director – Alan Scott Ferrall (of Cuyahoga Falls)

Assistant Technical Director – Kathy Kohl (of Akron)

About the Show’s Director

ERIC VAN BAARS previously directed Weathervane Playhouse's Pippin in 2011, 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 ForumOnce 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 RiverFiddler 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, LysistrataOn the VergeHonk!The Wild Party and A New Brain.

About the Show’s Production History and Adaptations

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).

About the Playwright

PETER SHAFFER was born May 15, 1926, in Liverpool, England. His twin brother, Anthony Shaffer, would also grow up to become a playwright (Sleuth and Whodunnit). After his schooling at St. Paul’s School in London, he was conscripted by the British government to work in England’s coal mines during and shortly after World War II. At the end of his service, he gained a scholarship to continue his higher education at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he studied history and graduated in 1950.

In 1951, Shaffer and his brother Anthony published a mystery novel, Woman in the Wardrobe, under the joint pen name Peter Anthony. In collaboration, the Shaffer brothers would eventually publish two more mystery novels. However, Peter Shaffer’s next writing assignment was a solo act: His first radio play, The Prodigal Father, was broadcast on the BBC in 1951. Next, he wrote two screenplays for British television, The Salt Land and The Balance of Terror. In between his early writing gigs, Shaffer also worked a variety of odd jobs (including a stint at the New York Public Library).

In 1958, Shaffer’s play Five Finger Exercise was produced on the London stage to great success (and a two-year run). The show was also produced on Broadway the next year. This theatrical achievement encouraged Shaffer to continue writing plays for both the stage and for motion picture screens.

In addition to Amadeus, Shaffer’s other plays include The Private Ear (first produced on stage in 1962) and The Public Eye (1962), The Establishment (1963), The Merry Roosters Panto (1963), The Royal Hunt of the Sun (1964), Black Comedy (1965), The White Liars (1967), Equus (1973), Lettice and Lovage (1987) and The Gift of the Gorgon (1992). His screenplays include adaptations of his two best-know stage plays, Equus (1977) and Amadeus (1984).

Among his many honors, Shaffer won the 1975 Tony Award for Best Play (for Equus), and he won the same award again in 1981 (for Amadeus). In 2001, Queen Elizabeth II named him a Knight Bachelor of the Order of the British Empire. He received the William Inge Award for Distinguished Achievement in the American Theater in 1992. In 1994, Oxford University appointed him as the school’s Cameron Mackintosh Visiting Professor of Contemporary Theatre.

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