it’s missing a few.
Amadeus is actually the story of Antonio Salieri (Richard Pallaziol), the most celebrated composer of his time and a man who’s dedicated his life to God and mankind as thanks for God’s granting him the gift of musical talent. Enter Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Aaron Wilton), a crude, boorish reprobate for whom reasons Salieri cannot fathom has been gifted by God with musical genius. Salieri, feeling mocked by God and unhinged by what he sees as a betrayal, seeks revenge on Him by destroying His vessel. He will bring about Mozart’s ruin while seeming to be his friend but destroy himself in the process.
Shaffer’s historical fiction won the 1981 Tony Awards for Best Play and Best Actor in a Play (Ian McKellen) and the film adaptation matched that with its 1985 Oscar wins for Best Picture and Best Actor (F. Murray Abraham). Both Pallaziol and Wilton have their moments as Salieri and Mozart with Pallaziol at his best when Salieri is at his most duplicitous. While Wilton succeeds in bringing a high level of obnoxiousness to his Mozart, there’s little chemistry displayed in scenes he shares with Rose Roberts as Mozart’s wife Constanza.
Chad Yarish leads an uneven supporting cast as the amusingly befuddled Austrian emperor Joseph II with Tim Setzer also effective as the pompous Count Johann Kilian von Strack.
Where this Jennifer King-directed production really falters is in its design elements. Scenographer Peter Parrish brings little more than a few platforms and some haphazardly hung drapes to a play whose settings include an 18th century Viennese palace. A large center scrim used occasionally for shadow projections went curiously unused for most of the production. Parrish’s lighting design was also lacking, really only effective in a scene where Salieri collapses in frustration after he reads page after page of Mozart’s compositions and finally succumbs to his genius.
Skipper Skeoch’s period costume design had to do double-duty in providing a sense of time and place with wigs and makeup by Jolie O’Dell also providing nice atmospheric support.
The show concludes with Salieri, speaking for all “mediocrities” in the word, absolving them. Sadly, that’s not in my power here.
“Amadeus” runs Friday through Sunday through April 15th at Cinnabar Theater in Petaluma. Friday and Saturday evening performances at 8pm; Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2pm.
For specific dates and times, go to cinnabartheater.org