Dark, Funny and Dangerous: Amadeus

Amadeus tells of the alleged rivalry between Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Antonio Salieri.

 

CTV’s Stephen Andrew has steppe dout from in front of a news camera to direct Peter Shaffer’s multiple award-winning play Amadeus.

Raising funds for Kaleidoscope Theatre’s youth program, Amadeus tells of the alleged rivalry between Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Antonio Salieri. Viennese court composers, Salieri wrestles with God as he recoils from the obscene, but brilliant, Mozart.

Many are familiar with the Oscar-winning film of 1984, based on Shaffer’s play. Andrew stresses Amadeus the play is very different from Amadeus the film, “The conflict in the play is more dangerous. The conflict between God and Salieri is far more dangerous than in the movie.” He tells of a scene in the film wherein Salieri, furious with God, throws a crucifix into a fire. “It’s powerful, but nowhere near as powerful as what’s going to happen in this play. The cast has seen the scene many times in rehearsal, but they come from their dressing rooms, stand backstage, and watch it. Every time.”

Andrew directed the play twice before, and suggested it to Kaleidoscope for their fundraiser because of its “wow” factor. Thirty-five performers, all in 18th century period costume, including wigs, will evoke the court and homes of Vienna, Austria. “We had no idea what we were going to be thrust into, staging the show. It’s very expensive. We have done it on a wing and a prayer. The volunteers that have come together on this thing, it’s pretty amazing.”

A source of the conflict between Salieri and Mozart provokes some viewers. Shaffer’s version of Mozart depicts a kind of idiot savant obsessed with, well, shit. “There’s a lot of scatological humour in Amadeus which, to be honest, the first time I directed it I didn’t get. It’s all that Mozart talks about: shitting in the bed, stools and droppings. He was into poop. Now I see what this guy’s into and we play that up a bit. With this play it’s there, so we just keep pushing.”

With the advent of the digital age, as young people plug into an online world, Andrew remains optimistic. “There is a need for live theatre. Here young people get a human interaction, which they probably can’t get enough of, these days. The kids in the cast, they glow. They love it. It’s an experience that they just don’t get on a regular basis.”

Kaleidoscope’s long-term track record speaks for itself. Two of the leading actors in Amadeus, Pat Rundell and Candace Woodland, came through the theatre company’s youth program. Andrew points to this legacy as the reason for his commitment to the project: “We whole-heartedly believe that this is for tomorrow. I believe in this company, I believe in what it’s doing for the community Vancouver Island and even British Columbia. It’s very important.”

Cast includes Roderick Granville as Salieri, Pat Rundell as Mozart and Candace Woodland as Constanze. Fri. and Sat., April 13 and 14 at The McPherson Playhouse (1411 Quadra Street). Show at 7 p.m. $65.

 

 

By Brent Schaus

arts@mondaymag.com

 

 

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