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Friday, May 02, 2008

The world premier of "Piecemeal" is an impressive original local Connecticut production

Three Stars (g00d)

Theater: Opera House Players

Location: Broad Brook Opera House, 107 Main Street, Broad Brook

Production: Book, lyrics, and music by Howard R. Odentz. Orchestration by Bruce Zimmerman. Directed by Sharon FitzHenry. Musical direction by Amy Roberts-Crawford. Producer and set design by David Gilfor. Costumes by Ronnie Cooley and Solveig Pflueger. Lighting design by Diane St. Amand and Sharon FitzHenry. Sound by Jeff Clayton and Meghan Lynn Allen. Props by Ed Reed III.

Running time: About 2 1/2 hours, with a 20-minute intermission

Show Times: Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., Sundays at 2 p.m. through May 18.

Tickets: $20, seniors over 60 and youth under 12 pay $16. Call 860-292-6068 or visit their Web site at

www.operahouseplayers.org

ACTOR…CHARACTER

Erik Landry … Igor
Dallas Hosmer … Victor Von Frankenstein
Megan Fish … Elizabeth Lavenza
Jim Metzler … Asher
Jaime Taber … Gerta
Benjamin VanDine … young Igor
David Chivers … Professor Krempe
Tom Nunes … Gravedigger/Chemistry Professor/Gardener
James Rhone … Jeremy/Byron
Marge Stepansky … Nurse/Esme
Julianne Thouin … Nicolette/Puppeteer/Mary Shelley
Reva Kleppel …Grandmother/Nedra/Pollidore
Corey Buckley … Nicholas/Shelley
David Gilfor … Gravedigger #2/Anatomy professor/Puppeteer

By Kory Loucks

published in the Journal Inquirer May 1, 2008

EAST WINDSOR, CONNECTICUT

The Opera House Players have launched a terrific new musical called "Piecemeal." With 14 actors playing 24 parts, this musical is a darkly funny, often macabre, impressive show.

If your taste runs towards shows like "Sweeney Todd" you will enjoy this original production by Howard R. Odentz, with impressive orchestration by Bruce Zimmerman.

The story is an imaginative pre-quel to Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. Set in Victorian England, Odentz looks at what Victor Frankenstein's life and particularly his hunch-backed assistant Igor's life was like before they became the characters depicted in the novel.

Odentz, who lives in Western Mass. previously wrote the musical "In Good Spirits" which premiered in 2004 at the Opera House. This is no fly-by-night amateur production, but an entertaining, high-quality, finely produced and directed musical.

The large ensemble cast, under the sure direction of Sharon FitzHenry, kept the show moving at a lively pace. Between scenes the actors all seamlessly and quickly changed the simple but effective sets, designed by David Gilfor.

In the tradition begun by "Thing" from "The Addams Family" 1964 television show, an enthusiastic thumbs up (no pun intended) to the highly entertaining acting hands in formaldehyde jars. Very clever. The cat and dog puppets were also a terrific addition to the show.

Asher, the undertaker and father of Igor, played with requisite stiffness by Jim Metzler, sings about the joys of cannibalism as "a delicious dish if it is cooked well…a leg and thigh will make a pie…a culinary treat," and then goes on to say that necrophilia is not a sin in his trade.

There were many excellent songs, well enunciated, in this musical. Of particular note was the complicated "12 Card Carlotta" pulled off by the trio of Taber's Gerta, and her friends Esme played by Marge Stepansky, and Nedra played by Reva Klepp.

Also terrific was Frankenstein's song, "I Love to Sew," which was one of the most memorable in the show, along with the love song "Every Now and Then," sung by Landry's Igor and the lovely duet "Victor and Elizabeth," with Igor and Elizabeth Lavenza, played by the savvy and funny Megan Fish. Fish's voice was a standout in the show tuneful and with plenty of power.

The seven-piece orchestra, led by Amy Roberts-Crawford, was outstanding. Musicians can and do unintentionally overpower the vocal artists, but this was never the case in "Piecemeal."

Some of the voices were stronger than others, but clearly outstanding was Igor's delectably horrid mother, Gerta, played with evil, self-centered abandon by Jaime Taber, as was the Ralph Lauren-wannabe dandy Victor Von Frankenstein, played by Dallas Hosmer.

Truly the talent and skill of all involved was awe-inspiring on every level and in every aspect of the show. If you enjoy musicals and don't mind seeing a few gruesome body parts along the way, do what you can to see the world premiere of "Piecemeal."

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