Review: "Amadeus" at the Downtown Cabaret Theatre

Steve Gifford

OnStage Connecticut Guest Critic

I'm going to be up front and honest with you, I love Peter Shaffer's Amadeus. It's a phenomenal play that, when done right, not only presents a lasting theatrical experience for the audience but those performing it as well. I should know, I've been on both sides of it. 

I've seen the play four times, both the Original Broadway production and its 1999 revival. I've also been fortunate to play Salieri in a local production as well. To say the experience was a dream would be putting it lightly. 

So that why I had high expectations when walking into the Downtown Cabaret Theatre last weekend to see their production of this iconic piece. Thankfully, with the exception of some confusing edits(which I'll get into later), all my expectations were not only met but exceeded as well. 

Director Lance Gray has crafted a fantastic rendition of this piece with some of the best individual performances I've seen on local stages in the past couple of years. 

At its center, Geoffrey Gilbert is a revelation as Salieri. While having enormous shoes to fill in the role, Mr. Gilbert give an original spin on the character which revealed so much more to me than when I had played the role. It is a master class to watch Mr. Gilbert at work when it comes to making us almost root for this man. 

As the title character, Chris Kozlowski doesn't disappoint. Staying away from Tom Hulce's film performance, Mr. Kozlowski gives Mozart the right amount of frustrating immaturity and genius the role requires. Having seen him in other productions, Mr. Kozlowski is highly skilled when it comes to showing nuance in everything he touches. 

These two are supported by a fine company of actors that including Anna Fagan as Constanze Weber, a role I never feel gets the meat it deserves yet Ms. Weber makes the most of her time on stage. 

Now comes the confusing part. I attended a Saturday matinee performance. When the performance began, it felt like the show skipped a couple of scenes and in fact, when I checked my own script when I got home, I saw that they did. They also cut chunks of material later on as well. I might not have noticed at first, but these were important scenes, many of them setting up what was to come. I don't know if it was a decision coming from the director or the theatre, but I was perplexed as to why they chose to do this.

I noticed that there was a bit of a time crunch between this show, a children's show earlier in the day and the evening performance of Amadeus but for someone who knows the show, I was a bit disappointed to see these moments cut from the show that provide great moments for these actors. I was told by my friend that these scenes are in the other performances, just not this matinee. 

Thankfully, the shortened performance did not damper the wonderful fully formed portrayals I saw on stage. Kudos to all and I encourage you to see this production....maybe just not on a Saturday matinee.