Jeremy Guskin debuts with ANW and delivers a fantastic Figaro next to Angela Sauer, also new to ANW, who is great as Suzanne. Andrew Ross Wynn and Elyse Mirto are much entertaining as Count and Countess Almaviva. Also debuting with ANW, Jeanne Sakata and Joshua Wolf Coleman are witty and fun as Marceline and Antonio. The cast is complete with Alan Blumenfeld as Dr. Bartholo, Will Bradley as Cherubin, and Natalie De Luna as Fanchette. The play is directed by Michael Michetti.
Figaro and Suzanne, who serve Count and Countess Almaviva, are making preparations on the morning of their wedding. The Count offers them the bedroom adjacent to his as a gift, but Suzanne knows it is because the Count wants to be near her. She tells so to Figaro, who becomes angry. On the other hand, Marceline wants to marry Figaro and has a plan to force him into it, and Cherubin is a “playboy” page who wants to be with all the girls. Their shenanigans are funny, and in between all of the laughter the author finds much opportunity to denounce authority and aristocratic privilege.
While the play is staged in the 18th century, it has a modern feel to it. That is because Morey’s adaptation uses modern English in a clever dialogue full of contemporary phrases and humor. While Beaumarchais had the page fall off a window into a bed of flowers, for example, Morey has him fall on a bunch of ripe melons. While the original author gives Figaro a birthmark that looks like a lobster, Morey turns it into a spatula. Morey also included several references to the Mozart opera that this play inspired, which, if you’ve seen the opera, will totally tickle you.
FIGARO was written in five acts. At ANW each act has a new stage set, and they are switched around seamlessly right before your eyes. It is a job well done by scenic designer Jeanine A. Ringer, lighting designer Adam Frank, and stage manager Elle Aghabala.
“How clever of you, sir, to be rich rather than smart,” says Figaro. And like this one, FIGARO has plenty of clever lines that, says Director Michetti, “show us the entitlement of a few versus the reversed fortunes of most everyone else.” Guskin delivers them so perfectly that it is impossible to miss their meaning, and he has a real shining moment during his monologue in the fifth act.
FIGARO is beautiful, meaningful, clever and funny. It is an absolute thumbs-up for ANW. You should definitely see it.
FIGARO will perform through May 10. Regular tickets start at $40. Student rush with ID an hour before each performance is $20. See http://www.anoisewithin.org/play/figaro/ or call (626) 356-3100 ext 1. The theater is located at 3352 East Foothill Boulevard. More here.
Photo: Angela Sauer (Suzanne) and Elyse Mirto (Countess Almaviva) look on as Jeremy Guskin (Figaro) schemes. Photo by Craig Schwartz (c) 2015