Monmouth delights with laugh-filled ‘Barber of Seville”

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MONMOUTH — To begin, give a big, blustery comic role to Bill Van Horn, popular 14-year-veteran at the Theater at Monmouth Then, match him up with Lucas Calzadas, third season with TAM, to play Figaro, a wily rogue who assists a couple of young lovers.

That’s the recipe for a laugh-filled production of “The Barber of Seville” on stage through August at Cumston Hall.
This delightful show is the 1775 play by Pierre Beaumarchais which led to Rosinni’s opera in 1816. Under the direction of Matthew Arbour (fourth season with TAM), Figaro emerges as a crafty, witty and daring individual. Arbour says Figaro is, “At once, a scoundrel and a hero. He seized opportunities. He takes liberties.”
Beaumarchais’ comic romp is packed with hilarious misunderstandings, disguises, and splendid costumes of the period.
In the role of Bartolo, Van Horn is a wealthy tyrant and ward of the lovely Rosina (Kelsey Burke, first season at TAM). He plans to marry Rosina soon, but Count Almaviva (Tim Kopacz, first season) has fallen in love with her and is determined to win her away.
Burke’s performance is right on target. She plays Rosina with intelligence and assuredness. She stays one step ahead of the old man and his matrimonial plans.
Calzadas, who gives an excellent performance as Figaro, the wily roving barber, comes to the count’s aid. His schemes to unite the lovers lead the audience through a hilarious comic romp with many twists and turns.
Chris White (TAM first season) plays Bazille, Rosina’s pompous music teacher. White gives a droll and perceptive portrayal of Bartolo’s avaricious confidant.
Figaro hatches lots of plots to bring the count and Rosina together. He disguises the count as a poor young student, and later as a drunken army officer and as a substitute music teacher in order to advance the prohibited relationship between the lovers.
Several letters and notes figure in the comic complications. Bartolo, who’s suspicious of his ward’s activities, demands to read them. There’s plenty of laughs as the notes … dropped out of windows and concealed in pockets … continuously elude poor perplexed Bartolo.
Figaro is able to orchestrate his mischief with ease because he is Bartolo’s personal barber and it’s commonplace for him to have open access to the old man’s home almost anytime he pleases.
Other characters in “The Barber of Seville” are Mark Cartier as the notary who is called to formalize Bartolo’s marriage to Rosina. Cartier (TAM veteran of 20 years) also appears as “Youthful,” who is in fact an elderly servant.
Another minor role is played by Joe Mariani (first season) as “Sprightly,” a lazy servant. He also plays the alcade, a traditional Spanish municipal magistrate.
Isabella Etro (first season) also appears as a servant.
The set design by Michael Reidy is very well done. The staging makes good use of the Cumston Hall box seat design at the sides of the stage.
Original music is provided by Kevin Barber.
Christine McDowell is costume designer. She provides sumptuous clothing for the Spanish aristocrats and the lovely Rosina, as well as attire for the roguish Figaro and disguises for the count.
Upcoming presentations of “The Barber of Seville” are at 7 p.m. Sunday, July 31 (with post-show talk-back); 7:30 p.m. Aug. 2; 1 p.m. Aug. 3; 7:30 p.m. Aug. 10 and 13; 1 p.m. Aug. 16; and 7:30 p.m. Aug. 18.
A children’s production of “Puss in Boots” is presented on Saturdays in August. Other TAM shows performed throughout August will be Shakespeare’s “Love’s Labour’s Lost” and “Henry V,” Edmond Rostand’s “Cyrano,“ and Corneille’s “The Illusion.” The traditional mid-September comedy is “Boeing, Boeing.”
For dates of shows visit www.theateratmonmouth.org. For tickets, contact the TAM Box Office at 207-933-9999.

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