Cardinal Stage Company: Amadeus

Peter Shaffer’s "Amadeus" is at the Buskirk-Chumley Theatre. It’s a darkly dramatic tale of artistic ambition and envy. The Cardinal Stage Company’s production is lovingly crafted, strongly acted and beautifully costumed. Company founder Randy White is the director.

Although the play is titled "Amadeus," it’s really more about the established court composer Antonio Salieri played by Jeff Still. Still’s Salieri begins the play at the end of his life looking back at a long career. He’s a bit mellow and a little rueful, but was in his day is a bitter, vengeful arts infighter. The versatile Mike Price plays Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart as an attractively energetic young man who’s perhaps a bit too naively rambunctious for his own good.

It’s the Amadeus part of Wolfgang’s name and his life that is at the center of Salieri’s anger and Shaffer’s play. "Beloved by God," is the translation and it both angers and baffles the court composer. Why? he asks, and even, How? can it be that this wild young lout, this potty-mouthed vulgarian, has been granted such gifts, while he, Salieri, the dutiful hard worker is denied them. This question of gifts, of opportunities, is a general one that puzzles many. How much of what we get in life is deserved, how much is mere chance?

Peter Shaffer’s "Amadeus" does play a bit fast and loose with the characters of both Mozart and Salieri: Mozart was actually a thoroughly accomplished courtier and of ten a financial success, Salieri seems to have born his young rival no special ill will and may have actually helped him from time to time. As you might expect it’s raised interest and CD sales for the piece’s hero Mozart, but it might surprise you to learn that it’s also been causing a renewal of interest in the villain, Salieri, with new recordings and performances.

The cast for "Amadeus" is a strong one. Everyone looked good and moved well. Charles Goad was a delight as the feckless Emperor Joseph. Adam Crowe did a nice job of always seeming on the edge of a minor explosion as a court official, Rosenberg. Alex Shotts and Holly Holbrook were gracious hosts and neatly handled their little fugues of conversation. Megan Olive was a charmer as Mozart’s child bride and later estate executor.

The Cardinal Stage Company’s production of "Amadeus" plays this evening at eight, and Saturday at two and eight in the Buskirk-Chumley Theatre. Musicologist Daniel Melamed and theatre expert Stephen Watt will be on hand with the cast for a talk back session following the Saturday matinee.

You can find an interview with director Randy White on our Arts Interviews page .

George Walker

After completing an M.A.T. degree in English at Indiana University, George Walker began announcing for WFIU in 1967. Along with regularly hosting classical music shows, he interviews artists and reviews plays and operas.

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