Photo by Don Kellogg

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Death for Five Voices

Peter Mills, a multi award-winning composer, is responsible for this magnificent, sweeping, and lush musical along with the artistic director of Prospect Theater Company herself, Cara Reichel who worked with Mr. Mills on the book.

The subject matter of the musical is perhaps an awkward choice, but one, when properly imagined on the stage, as Ms. Reichel and her more than capable company has done, is a majestic and breathtaking journey into the past.

Set back hundreds of years in Italy during the tumultuous years when Popes and the Church were in power struggles all across Europe, the play examines the early life of Carlo Gesualdo, himself a groundbreaking composer of the late Renaissance.  The score incorporates the musical style of the period with a contemporary Broadway feel and the result is nothing short of musical delight with a murderous twist.

The production is set in what I understand to be a new space, the Black Box Theatre at the Sheen Center.  The quality and comfort of this space rivals some of it's distant uptown higher end venues. Heck it was even more comfortable than the dump of the Lyceum Theatre on Broadway where I had the displeasure of spending the remainder of my evening.  The lighting, sound, and seating were all top notch. I hope to see many more productions in this space.

The entire superlative cast could not have been more pitch-perfect from start to finish.  Vocal prowess was no issue for these masterful young artists - who I hope to see on another stage soon. Nathan Gardner, who I cannot believe is only making his off-Broadway debut, sounded like a well rehearsed Broadway veteran and his youthful demeanor tells me we will see him again on a larger stage very soon. Manna Nichols (Maria D'Avalos) was an angelic soprano and a force to be reckoned with.  The insanely gorgeous AND vocally talented Nicholas Rodriguez (Fabrizio Carafa) did not fail to impress on either front - shirt on AND off. Rounding out the impressive cast were Jeff Wiliams (Alfonso Gesualdo), Ryan Bauer-Walsh (Pietro), and L.R. Davidson (Sylvia) - all of whom despite their secondary character status turned in outstanding, first-rate performances.

Death for Five Voices is currently running through April 17th at The Black Box Theater at the Sheen Center on 18 Bleecker Street.  Show Website