Playing at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre (261 West 47th St). The play opens on July 7, 2011 and has extended it's run until September 4, 2011.
The story is based on Maria Callas life. She was born on December 2. 1923 in Queens, New York of Greek parents. In 1937 when her parents marriage broke up her mother Evangelia took her two daughters back to Athens. Maria musical education was in Greece. Life with her mother wasn't easy as she favored her older daughter.
Ms Callas was know for her repertoire ranged from classical opera seria to the bel canto operas. While she was married she was having an affair with Aristole Onassis. She left her husband for him.There were rumors she had a baby with him or had an aboration. From October 1971 to March 1972 she did a series of Master Classes at the Julliard School in New York. Terrance McNalleys play is based on this part of her life. She died on September 16, 1977 at the the age of 53 from a heart attack.
The play first opened on November 5, 1995 at the Golden Theatre. It starred Zoe Caldwell and Audra McDonald. Zoe and Audra won Tonys for their roles. Tony McNalley the playwright also won a Tony for best play of 1996. It ran for 598 performances and closed on June 29, 1997.
The story takes place in a school where Ms Callas (Tyne Daly) is teaching future wanna be operas singers. Maria talks to the audience as if they are her pupils. Making comments to them, sometimes waiting for them to respond.
The Diva demands alot from the stagehand (Clinton Brandhgen). a foot rest, water, lights to be dimmed, a cushion for her seat.
Manny (Jeremy Cohen) plays the piano for the students. He is quiet and tries hard to please Ms. Callas.
Her first student Sophie De Palma (ALexandra Silber) is not treated well. In between criticizing her she would have flashback of her life and she would tell you something that happen to her.
The second act at she has two students. Anthony Candolino (Garrett Sorenson) fairs better at her rath. The last student Sharon Graham (Sierra Boggess) doesn't do any better with her comments, but she fights back in a way as to not anger her mentor but to make a point she's not to be bullied. Again we have another flashback of her life.
Tyne Daly is outstanding in this role. "She won rave reviews for her performances as Callas at the Kennedy Center's Eisenhower Theatre in March 2010" (from Broadway.com). This his her show, when she is doing the flashback scences she changes her voice for each character. Each one is convincing. Bravo Tyne you hold the audience in the palm of your hand. A job well done.
The rest of the cast works well together. Sierra Boggess does a persuasive job as a future diva. She has a beautiful voice. Clinton Brandhagen laid back job gives you the feeling he was the real stagehand. Jeremy Cohen impressed me with his piano playing and reseved cool facet. Sophie De Palma is funny in her role of trying not to break down after being picked in endlessly. She sheds tears so convincing you wonder want she thinking of to get them. Garrett Sorenson, what a voice. I would have loved to heard him sing more.
This is a must see show. If you weren't a Maria Callas fan before Tyne performance will make you want to know more about her and hear more of her singing.
Review by Rozanna Radakovich.
Photos by Annazor