Westmont's Die Fledermaus a smashing success
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With performances held this past Friday and Sunday, Die Fledermaus (in English, “The Bat”) rocked the stage of the New Vic Theatre under the direction of John Blondell. Orchestrated originally in German by Johann Strauss II, Fledermaus premiered in Vienna on Easter Sunday, 1874. The French-inspired comedy has been well-received by millions of people around the world, and was intended to poke fun at Vienna’s elite and the hypocrisy of society.
Directed by Dr. Michael Shasberger, the operetta begins with the musical overture by the orchestra. The show opens on the luxurious apartment of Rosalinde (Anna Telfer) and Gabriel (played by SBCC student Kenny Galindo) Eisenstein. Gabriel is supposed to go to prison later that day, but he decides to go out with his friend Dr. Falke (John Butler) and enjoy his last night of freedom. The house’s chambermaid, Adele (Michelle Vera), has heard about a party from her sister and concocts a plan to go, despite her work. Meanwhile, Rosalinde’s old flame Alfred (played by alumnus Jon Lindsley) drops in unexpectedly and tries to woo her back. However, prison director Frank (Micah Anthony) comes to arrest Gabriel, but mistakes Alfred for him and takes him off to prison.
After an intermission, the second act begins at the party of Prince Orlovsky (Elena White), with the ensemble joining as party guests. Gabriel and Adele are shocked to run into each other at the party, despite their attempt to disguise themselves. Rosalinde in the meantime has received a letter requesting that she arrive disguised as a Hungarian countess. Once there, she sees her husband flirting with another woman, so she decides to use her disguise to woo her own husband and prove him a cheater, taking his pocket watch as evidence.
After another intermission, the third act begins at the jail, where Eisenstein discovers someone else has been arrested in his place. He accuses his wife of cheating, but she pulls out the pocket watch, showing that he also was unfaithful. In the end, it is revealed that the entire night was created to humiliate Eisenstein as revenge for a joke played on Falke many years ago.
The creative costuming under the guidance of Lynne Martens was a fusion of traditional pieces and artistic choices, such as galaxy-print suits, or trash bag dresses, creating a mood of whimsy and uncertainty. The ensemble members also painted their nails in hues of pinks and purples, just to add to the outlandishness. Telfer was dressed in tones of pink and cream, with her simplicity offsetting the garishness of the ensemble’s dress.
The placement of the orchestra was distinct in that instead of being in a pit below the stage, the entire orchestra was onstage and incorporated in the action. They also had costume changes with the different acts, reflecting the location such as being dressed in black jumpsuits for the prison scene. The choice to include the orchestra in the storyline broke the fourth wall, but also allowed for the audience to observe how much music actually impacts a story.
The edgy comedy was strange to say the least, but strange in every good way.