Kris Anderson says he’s a big fan of Charles Morey’s “Figaro,” but he’s not quite sure exactly in which genre the play belongs.
“That’s a good question,” said Anderson, who plays the title character in Morey’s relatively new take on an old story, opening Friday at Curtain Call Theatre. “It’s kind of a high-brow, low-brow comedy with sort of a Mel Brooks twist to it. I do think it’s the wittiest thing he’s ever done. Some of the other stuff he’s written is standard farce, but this one is very clever.”
Barbara Richards will be directing Morey’s 2012 play, which is based on Pierre Beaumarchais’ 1784 work, “The Marriage of Figaro.”
“We’ve been talking about doing a 18th century play, but really hadn’t found the right adaptation,” said Richards. “Then this came along in 2012 after Morey was commissioned by the Pearl Theatre Company in New York. He’s adapted other classics, and when I read the script I fell in love with it, so I was happy to direct it.”
WHERE: Curtain Call Theatre, 210 Old Loudon Road, Latham
WHEN: Opens 8 p.m. Friday, runs through March 22. Performances: 7:30 p.m. Thursday; 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday; and 3 p.m. Sunday
HOW MUCH: $23
MORE INFO: 877-7529, www.curtaincalltheatre.com
The New York Times wrote that Morey “rescues Beaumarchais’s late-18th century comedy,” and called it a “witty new adaptation.” Morey also gained success on the stage by writing adaptations for classics such as “The Count of Monte Cristo,” “A Tale of Two Cities,” “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” “Dracula,” and “The Three Musketeers.”
A Bugs-Groucho mix
“I was reading some comments by Morey, and he said the character of Figaro is like Bugs Bunny or Groucho Marx,” said Richards, who directed “The Whipping Man” at Curtain Call in 2012. “He keeps on bouncing back. He’s clever, he’s subversive, he’s funny, he’s smarter than anybody. He’s not your typical leading man, but he’s the guy who figures things out.”
Anderson agrees the reference to Bugs Bunny and Groucho Marx is a good one.
“I like the play a lot, and the best part are the characters,” he said. “My character is so much fun to play. He is part Bugs Bunny, part Groucho Marx. He is sort of an irascible schemer, not content to just let his life happen. He’s always talking, and he’s very clever with his words.”
A servant, barber and troublemaker, Figaro’s tale continues the story line from “The Barber of Seville” several years later. The play is actually the second in the Figaro trilogy, preceded by “The Barber of Seville” and followed by “The Guilty Mother.” It was written in 1778 and received an overwhelming popular response in France when it was first staged in 1784.
In order to get his work produced, Beaumarchais did have to change the setting from France to Spain. The play was seen as a denunciation of the aristocratic class by Beaumarchais, and French Revolution leader Georges Danton remarked that the play had “killed off the nobility.” While in exile, even Napolean Bonaparte commented on Beaumarchais’ work, calling it “the Revolution already put into action.”
The plot centers around Figaro’s impending wedding to Suzanne. Both are now working for The Count, who has become disenchanted with his wife and suddenly has designs on Suzanne. But despite The Count’s effort and others, Figaro is determined to go through with the nuptials .
While Anderson did direct the Curtain Call production of “Bermuda Avenue Triangle” in November of 2013, he remains a very busy actor. He was in the Schenectady Civic Players production of “Sunday in the Park with George” in May of 2013 and earlier last year performed in “Dracula” back at Curtain Call. In 2012 he was in two productions at Curtain Call, “Lend Me a Tenor,” and “Next Fall.”
Richards is also a busy actor/director. Along with co-directing “The Whipping Man,” she performed with Anderson at Curtain Call in “Lend Me a Tenor.” A regular performer in Carol Max’s troupe at Curtain Call, Richards was in “Love, Less and What I Wore” in July of 2013, and “One Slight Hitch” just last September.
Also in the cast of “Figaro” are Sarah Wasserbach as Suzanne, Michael Lake as The Count, and Elizabeth Pietrangelo as The Countess.Jack Fallon and Sam Gorenstein play multiple characters. Anna Yates is the scenic designer and Mira Veikley did the costumes.
Reach Gazette reporter Bill Buell at 395-3190 or firstname.lastname@example.org