Bitten by The Bat
In their 55th season, The Madison Savoyards made a bold move to veer off the G&S path and gamble on Strauss to propel them forward. In one hand, the Savoyards’ production of Die Fledermaus is filled with frivolity, artistry, and magic. On the other, the audience was disoriented by a visual spectacle that hopped through time like the TARDIS.
The story is set in 2021, but the future falls short from a costume and set perspective. I found myself confused by a mash of eras. The fashion presented in the first act was a mix of the 20s, 80s, and double zeros including dressing gowns, cosmic skirts, and 80s blouses. The set for the first act was more reminiscent of the art deco period, which didn’t propel my imagination to the future.
The production was chalked full of local references and a couple of jabs to our political climate that added to the night of comedy. The amusement of the production was paired evenly by a remarkable performance given by the orchestra, conducted by Kyle Knox. The music was nothing short of bewitching and stood out as one of the year’s best orchestral deliveries.
The masquerade ball of the second act did not disappoint. Costumer, Rebecca Stanley brought her A-game to this scene. The attire was imaginative, intoxicating, and immersed the audience into a world of decadence and wonder. One of the best I have heard this season, the chorus was a magical delight that entranced us all with a wall of engaging sound. At times, the staging was distracting which took focus away from the scene and the clutter of characters lacked purpose. The ballet portion of the piece was a great addition and brought a refreshing flavor to the overall presentation that you don’t typically see in modern staging. The dancers were powerful and fluid with Cindy Stefanek giving an enchanting solo performance.
As we rounded into the third act, the Jail scene lacked the modern vision that was promised from the director’s notes. Instead of 2021, we were presented with a space that could have been from Strauss’ era. The night of masked mayhem and magical music was topped off by an after party at “The big house” where everyone was forgiven for their moral indiscretions and all was right in the world again. Walking out into the crisp night, I looked up to see Music Hall draped by the moon and realizing that The Bat had succeeded in entrancing us all.
Eisenstein played by Tim Rebers – Acting was spot on! He went from accent to accent seamlessly. His tenor instrument was rich and controlled.
Rosalinda played by Erin K. Bryan - Voice had a rich tone and matched well during the ensemble scenes.
Adele played by Michelle Buck – Beautiful pleasing timbre. Her acting was delightful and fun to watch
Blind played by Anmol Gupta – Embodied the character and brought a great deal of entertainment to the first act.
Alfred played by Nick Kaplewski – Played a perfect tenor devo. He sang with a strong tenor voice.
Prince Orlofsky played by Kirsten Larson – Commanding stage presence. Her voice delivered a punch.
Frank played by Alexander Quackenbush – Had a pleasing young voice. Could be hard to hear over the orchestra at times.
Falke played by Benjamin Swanson – Fit the character like a glove. Cunning, witty, and bold. His aria was the highlight of the masquerade ball.
Frosch played by Tom Kastle - Was a standout in the third act. His comic timing was on point and he delivered the humor of the character perfectly.
Sally played by Kirstin Roble – Mesmerized by her facial expressions. Did her job conveying the lack of self-awareness of her abilities as a dancer.