FIGARO

Figaro

 

FIGARO

 

Hillcrest Center for the Arts

403 W. Hillcrest Dr, Thousand Oaks, CA

Playing thru June 19, 2016

Friday & Sat, 8pm – Sunday 2pm Matinee

 

 

Every engine requires even its smallest system to be perfectly synchronized to get us where we’re going. And when that engine runs on all cylinders, it is truly a powerful and amazing work of magic.

 

Director J. Bailey Burcham has finely-tuned the cast of “Figaro” just this way. The cast races about the stage of the Hillcrest Center for the Arts, working every opportunity for a well-timed laugh without becoming overly-hammy. ‘Figaro’ is a true ensemble piece, and Burcham made sure there is not a dead cylinder in the production. The cast keeps the action moving while remaining charming and believable. Even when a leap from a high-story window can’t be believable, it’s still made quite funny.

 

Based on the classic French tale “The Marriage of Figaro,” author Charles Morey (whose adaptations include The Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers) has made the story accessible by updating it to 1960 and placing it in the era of Mad Men. Morey has provided the Hillcrest cast a compact, tight script, where small details play a large role (note Figaro whistling an oddly familiar tune while shaving the Count).

 

Set in a French château, Figaro (the infectiously energetic Matt DeNoto) is a servant one day away from marrying his beloved Suzanne (Alisa de Los Santos). Figaro spends his waking hours plotting to get his marriage contract signed by Count Almaviva (Paul Carpenter). Carpenter delivers the Count with equal parts overbearing cad while remaining the gullible, fallible buffoon. Again and again, the Count falls victim to his own lust and the opportunities power provides. Everyone wants something from him, and he knows just how to scheme and get what he wants in return.

 

Jeff Calnitz provided a moodily-lit and simply decorated set. Only during the final garden scene does Calnitz’s work get a chance to stretch its legs, opening to reveal a simple trellis. Coupled with soft night lighting, Calnitz’s simple design serves its cast well without the need of complicated changes or sleight-of-hand trickery.

 

Equally well-designed are Barbara Mazeika’s costumes, who has her cast looking sharp in colors that are pleasing to the eye without distracting from the action. Even when the young Cherubin (Brain Felker) bounds across the stage dressed as a woman, Mazeika has him doing so like a Shakespearean Raggedy Ann doll.

 

Robert Weibezahl is ‘Figaro’s’ man of all trades, playing every minor role from a crestfallen melon gardener to a hilarious stuttering judge. Recent CLU grad Michelle Miller gets every bit of charm and humor from her role as French maid Fanchette, who needs only to roll her eyes a certain way to extract a hearty laugh from her audience.

 

Throughout, Sontos plays Figaro’s beloved Suzanne with a Mary Tyler Moore-esque sex-kitten charm, balancing equal parts scheming temptress and eager bride-to-be. Suzanne finds herself in a whirlpool-speed plot, and she’s along for the ride. One expects that her marriage to Figaro is off to quite a start, and it won’t be a quiet one, but it is clearly love.

 

“Love is a fiction written by the heart,” says the Count, which his secretary backs up by declaring that “marriage is absurd.” There may be enough bed-hopping going on in ‘Figaro’ to knock the underpinnings out from any happy home, but at every turn the characters find themselves speeding toward the happily-ever-after they secretly desire, all with the speed of a finely-tuned engine.

 

 

Figaro

Thru June 19, 2016

Hillcrest Center for the Arts

403 W. Hillcrest Dr, Thousand Oaks, CA

Tickets: 805-381-1246 or online at:

http://www.hillcrstarts.com

Tickets: $17.50 – 20.00

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