Monday, June 20, 2011
Master Class **
I have always been a fan of Tyne Daly -- her Mamma Rose was the finest I have ever seen -- so I was quite eager to see her play Maria Callas in the Manhattan Theatre Club's revival of Terrence McNally's 1995 hit Master Class. I'm sorry to report that I was disappointed with her performance. She does not get the Greek accent right -- sometimes it sounds more like an Irish brogue -- and she does not clearly differentiate between her voice and Onassis's during the two memory scenes. The actors playing the vocal students (Alexandra Silber, Garrett Sorenson and Sierra Boggess) are all excellent. Sorenson and Boggess have beautiful voices. Jeremy Cohen brings a lot of warmth to the role of the pianist and Clinton Brandhagen is amusing as the stagehand. Except for the accent problem, the class scenes still work well. Callas's stinging remarks are as funny as ever. The transitions to and from the memory scenes are awkward and the imagined conversations with Onassis misfired. Perhaps director Stephen Wadsworth is at fault. The set for the auditorium stage where the class is held has a beautiful parquet back wall. This set dissolves into a suggestion of La Scala with a large pillar decorated with roses. Although the play won the Tony in 1996 (as did Zoe Caldwell and Audra McDonald), it seemed a bit long and repetitious this time. Clearly, I am in the minority here because the audience was wildly enthusiastic.