Giaccomo Rossini may have gotten the most mileage out of Figaro, Rosina and Count Almaviva, but 41 years before The Barber Of Seville became a famous opera, Beaumarchais penned the original play, a light farce about a rascally barber helping to steal young Rosine away from her lecherous guardian before it's too late for her to marry dashing but inept Almaviva.
Written in 1775, the play premiered at the Comedie-Francaise and immediately caused a scandal because the hero was a common barber who lampooned the aristocracy. The king banned the play for a year, not totally unreasonable, since the French revolution was already brewing.
Bringing the Barber back to the stage is the Pearl Theatre Company, an Off-Broadway troupe founded in 1982 and recently moved to the old St. Mark's movie house space, Theatre 80, in NYC's East Village. Directed by John Rando and translated by Village Voice theatre critic Michael Feingold, Barber Of Seville opened at the Pearl Dec. 15 and continues there through Jan. 18, 1997.
Arnie Burton, who's making a name for himself as the Pearl's versatile farceur, stars as Figaro, alongside John Wylie as Bartholo, and guest artists Konrad Aderer, Hope Chernov, Helmar Augustus Cooper, Ryan Jensen, Edward Seamon and Joseph Siravo. Sets are by Robert Joel Schwartz, lighting by Stephen Petrilli, costumes by Murell Horton and sound by Guy Sherman. Music for the production has been composed by Tom Cabaniss.
For tickets ($18-$30) and information on The Barber Of Seville at the Pearl Theatre Company on First Ave. And St. Mark's Place, call (212) 598-9802. --By David Lefkowitz