CASUM’s “Amadeus”: Mozart The Musical by Joseph Misuraca

Posted on May 3, 2013

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The Classical Arts Society at the University of Melbourne (CASUM) put on a fantastic modern production of Peter Shaffer’s acclaimed 1979 play. Jess Keeffe and Matt Westwood have written songs which incorporate string quartets and splices of Mozart’s original and memorable compositions, such as his Mass Requiem. What’s interesting about these pieces is the inclusion of text from the play and the use of electronic music; although it reverberated too much in the theatre and was too loud at times, so it drowned out the voices of the singers and the dialogue of the actors. Keeffe and Westwood deserve credit for tackling something as difficult as this, especially when you’re dealing with famous classical music.

Amadeus centres on Antonio Salieri, an 18th Century Italian composer who resides in the court of the royals in Vienna. He is envious of his fellow rival, Mozart, a child prodigy pianist and composer. The play follows Salieri’s attempts to sabotage his enemy’s career and his descent into madness.

Amadeus Prod Shot

Tom Kitt Thompson as Mozart.

Overall, the singing was great. The chorus who played the Venticelli, the little winds, as well as Constanze and Katherina, showcased solid vocal performances. Laura Quigley’s choreography was well coordinated and the stage was used cleverly with a platform, a baby grand piano and a laptop. It would’ve been better if Mozart played the piano rather than just used the computer for composition. Their modernised costumes were refreshing to see. The ladies wore dresses and skirts and pants while the lads wore jeans, chinos and suits. Mozart’s variety of Hawaiian shirts and his mismatched socks with shorts and a singlet suited his capricious and messy side perfectly. The lighting was used effectively, particularly to focus on either the chorus or the mains, except when they were trying to represent the light of heaven, which was almost blinding (I guess that was the intended effect).

Thompson with Michelle McCarthy as Constanze.

What made this local production so good was the acting. Rory Kelly was amusing as the Emperor; Emily Lanham was great as Von Strack and Michelle McCarthy as Constanze, Georgina Barley as Orsini-Roseberg and Rory Keenan as Van Sweiten were very good. Most of the praise is for Tom Kitt Thompson as Mozart and David John Watton as Salieri. They were both brilliant, although David stole the show. He displayed finesse as the jealous Italian composer and delivered all of the lengthy dialogue and monologue almost to perfection.

Everyone at CASUM did an amazing job bringing this epic play to life.

Amadeus Prod Shot 2

David John Watton as Salieri with Thompson and McCarthy.

 If you’ve got three hours to spare and you want to see the hottest homegrown talent on stage then buy your tickets for “Amadeus” at the Union Theatre and lose yourself in the world of a musical genius. It runs from Tuesday 30th April till 4th May. Check here for details. 

Joseph Misuraca is a film and theatre reviewer for You’re Dripping Egg.

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