Philly's Wilma Theater Presents Refreshed Draft of Amadeus

News   Philly's Wilma Theater Presents Refreshed Draft of Amadeus
The Wilma Theater in Philadelphia opens its 2007-2008 season with Peter Shaffer's final draft of Amadeus, directed by Wilma co-artistic director Jiri Zizka, Sept. 19-Oct. 27.

This grand-scale production includes a cast of 18 and "utilizes a script that has been carefully scrutinized by the playwright and rewritten since its original Broadway and film successes."

The Broadway, London and film smash asks the question, "What happens when mediocrity recognizes itself in the face of genius – especially when genius comes in the form of a potty-mouthed former child prodigy?"

Shaffer digs deeply into the psyche of court composer Antonio Salieri as he struggles with the growing genius of a younger Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

Zizka asked his design team to "focus on the surreal and subjective aspects of Salieri's story."

Broadway veteran Dean Nolen and New York based actor Drew Hirshfield lead the cast as Salieri and Mozart. The cast also includes Richmond Hoxie as Count Franz Orsini-Rosenberg; Christian Kauffmann as Joseph II; Russell Leib, who performed in the original Broadway production of Amadeus, as Baron Gottfried Van Swieten; Jered McLenigan and Peter Pryor as the Venticelli ("little winds"); Mary Rasmussen as Mozart's wife Constanze; H. Michael Walls as Count Johann Kilian Von Strack; and nine other locally based actors who portray the citizens of Vienna. The creative team includes set designer Robert Pyzocha, costume designer Janus Stefanowicz, lighting designer Jerold R. Forsyth and sound designer Adam Wernick.

According to Wilma notes, "Shaffer has consistently revisited the play, reworking the final encounter between Mozart and Salieri several times up until 1998." Shaffer wrote, "These final revisions represent a huge rethinking of the whole trajectory of action concerning Salieri's growing guilt, which I had long wanted to explore in greater depth..."

He went on to write about the advantages of "scrutinizing it through the glasses of Then and Now, as perspectives change and with them my own taste. Indeed, sometimes I wonder at those writers who display no desire to alter anything when work is revived."

The Wilma's production "is based on the sixth and what Shaffer currently regards as the final draft." The Wilma last staged a Peter Shaffer work in the 2000-2001 season, when the resident Equity troupe produced Black Comedy.

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