What: Stage drama
Where: Bellevue Little Theatre, 203 W. Mission Ave. in Bellevue
When: Friday through Nov. 24. Showtimes: 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays
Tickets: $18 adults, $15 senior citizens, $9 students
Information: 402-291-1554 or bellevuelittletheatre.com
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It's not every day a stage director finds herself in need of a Mozart dramaturg. Lorie Obradovich, helming Peter Shaffer's “Amadeus” at the Bellevue Little Theatre, filled the need by reaching out to her friend, singer-director-actress D. Laureen Pickle, who has a doctorate in music and wrote a thesis on Mozart.
“Amadeus,” which opens Friday at the Bellevue Little Theatre, is Shaffer's take on the rivalry between 18th century composers Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Antonio Salieri in the Austrian royal court. Salieri recognizes Mozart's genius but tries to block his success out of jealousy. The play is a series of flashbacks, told by Salieri long after Mozart's death in 1825.
Movie fans will recall the 1984 best-picture movie that starred F. Murray Abraham as Salieri, “the patron saint of mediocrity,” and Tom Hulce as Mozart, a crude and giggling prodigy who overspends, overparties and alienates the court with his crude bodily function humor.
Obradovich, who has wanted to direct “Amadeus” for years, said she relates to Salieri because she believes, like him, she didn't get from God the gift of her passion. “I wanted to be a singer,” she said. “So I don't just relate to Salieri, I am him. Except there's no Mozart I'm seeking to destroy.”
Pickle was instrumental in identifying very specific measures of music from Mozart's canon of works. The script calls for particular musical passages at more than a dozen points in the play. Pickle said much in the play is historically correct.
“It's true Mozart didn't have the best social skills,” she said. “But think of Miley Cyrus or Michael Jackson today — gifted performers with bizarre childhoods.”
Pickle said Mozart was ahead of his time. In his lifetime, he was not recognized as the genius composer he was. He died penniless and was buried in an unmarked pauper's grave.
As a result, she said, historians can't dig up his remains for modern medical tests to learn what might have killed him: Lead poisoning? Trichinosis? Flu? Cirrhosis of the liver? They'll also never know if he suffered from Tourette's, as some have speculated.
Rumors did circulate that Salieri had conspired to kill Mozart, Pickle said, but no hard evidence has ever surfaced to support the court gossip. And, unlike in the play, Mozart was not buried on a stormy day. The rivalry between him and Salieri, however, was real.
Andrew Miner plays Mozart, while Pat Schwery is Salieri and Ed Cutler is the Austrian emperor in this nonmusical drama. Period props, costumes and furniture from 1781-91 dress up the production, performed with minimal scenery. Costumes have been rented from Nebraska Wesleyan University.