Reviewed by Vanessa Cate
A Noise Within
Through May 11
It is a season of Figaro! Figaro Unbound: Culture, Power, and Revolution at Play (organized by LA Opera) is a kind of city-wide festival exploring and celebrating the character of Figaro, and the works surrounding him. Though you can currently find a slew of productions exploring the infamous character, A Noise Within’s (simply titled) Figaro — adapted freely by Charles Morey from Pierre de Beaumarchais’s The Marriage of Figaro (made most famous by Mozart’s operatic adaptation) – is the perfect place to start. Morey keeps the spirit of the original work, but presents a play perfectly palatable for contemporary audiences.
Figaro (Jeremy Guskin) and Suzanne (Angela Sauer) live as servants to Count Almaviva (Andrew Ross Wynn) and his wife the Countess (Elyse Mirto). They are joyfully in love and planning the details of their impending wedding. But the proceedings could never be so simple, as a cast of horny and jealous characters seek to seduce and outwit each other before the Count can sign the marriage contract.
Count Almaviva pines for the lithesome Suzanne. His wife can’t help but dote on the charming boy Cherubin (Will Bradley). And Cherubin falls in love with every woman he sees. Meanwhile, Marceline (Jeanne Sakata), the Almaviva’s housekeeper, plots to marry Figaro instead. And this is only the beginning!
Deftly directed by Michael Michetti, Morey’s Figaro pulls us in and leads us through a play that does not seek to improve upon Beaumarchais’s original work, but to transport us in a way so that we may experience the story fully. With beautiful and cohesive design work from Jeanine A. Ringer’s sets, Angela Balogh Calin’s brilliant costumes, Adam Frank’s lighting, and Gieselle Blair’s hair, wigs, and makeup, it is as if they took the 18th century and brought it to us now in a way in which we can feel connected and submerged, as if in our very own dream.
The acting is exquisite across the board – what a tremendous comedic ensemble! And with such large boots to fill as Figaro, Guskin brings to life the enormity and wit of the character with a lovely grace and presence. The rest of the cast shines equally – Wynn’s larger-than-life Almaviva, Mirto’s sexy Countess, Bradley’s loveable and insatiable Cherubin, and Sauer’s playful and powerful Suzanne, along with Sakata’s Marceline, Alan Blumenfeld as Dr. Bartholo, Natalie De Luna as Fanchette, and Joshua Wolf Coleman as a trio of delightful supporting characters.
The farce and wit of the story and rendering is enough reason to see the show. The acting and intelligent direction push the play to the realm of delight. And the design and playful opulence are the theatrical cherry on top.
A Noise Within, 3352 East Foothill Blvd. Pasadena, 91107; through May. 11. (626)356-3100; www.ANoiseWithin.org