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Berkeley Heights — Letters to the Editor

New York City Quality Comes To New Jersey With Production of "Carmen"

Art Ritchie

Wednesday, March 26, 2014 • 11:16am

Letter to the editor,

Listen up, for this Saturday and Sunday, (March 29 and 30) New York City is moving to Bound Brook's fabulous Brook Theater for a glorious production of Georges Bizet's "Carmen". (Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m.) 

 

Meet the saucy Carmen, (Karole Lewis) whose beauty and seductive glances alone say, “Your place? Or mine?” Whose lusty top register says, “NOW Don Jose!” While her throaty lower register presages her own doom!
Her mousy competition in the love-making business, Michaëla, (Jacqueline Levia) is perfect in the role as her shy and modest demeanor combined with her rich voice drip with, “But Don Jose, we just did that last month!”

Capstone this with Don Jose himself! (Peter S. Lewis, and yes, he is Carmen’s real life husband.) How this magnificent voice escaped New York, I’ll never know. A stunning tenor with the power to fill any theater from his threatening low chest tones to a full rich head tone that can reach  all the way up into a wonderfully comedic falsetto!

Great male singers in America are rare, and as tenors go, I put this man in a class by himself.

Every show needs a bass or two and in this category, Escamillo, the Toreador (Ted Dougherty) is played with such style and panache. 

And rounding out the  basses is Somerset County’s own living legend, Don Kalbach. With a musical career spanning more than 50 years as a conductor, composer, singer, and educator, Don is perfectly cast as the production’s pompous military officer, Zuniga, wherein he wonderfully adds another role to his already extensive repertory.

Am I suggesting that this performance is perfect? By no means. But its problems tend to be from presenting a great panoramic drama within the confines of a relatively small theater which brings us to Maestro Dr. Robert Butts.
Rarely has a more perfectly selected ensemble been so well directed, for anyone familiar with New York knows the most difficult of all productions is the musical, and for coördinating this large ensemble so well, Maestro Butts deserves our kudos!

Live singing! Live Dancing! Live Music! Live—well—the murder isn’t live. They talked to the local prosecutor, but I mean, one murder per performance? Uh uh.

As for those I’ve left out—including alternates for several roles—it was for lack of space rather than lack of talent.
For directions, ticket information and all the other information needed to make this a delicious weekend event, Google “Brook Arts Center.”

Art Ritchie

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