Out West Arts: Performance at the end of the world

Opera, music, theater, and art in Los Angeles and beyond

OSF 2006 - Wrap-Up

September 06, 2006

William Langan as Leontes and Miriam A. Laube as Hermione with Mark Murphey and members of the Ensemble. Photo: David Cooper 2006
My final day at OSF this year was a bit of a mixed bag. The day started out with a Libby Appel directed staging of The Winter's Tale. Like The Tempest, it deals with themes of self-reflection, magic, and the power of love to overcome sins of the father. However, unlike The Tempest, the comic elements in The Winter's Tale are concentrated almost exclusively in Act IV. This can create a rather inconsistent tone overall which was not helped with this particular staging. While the first three and final acts were quite moving, Appel's propensity to over emphasize musical elements in the text gave Act IV a Seven Brides for Seven Brothers quality that was very annoying. It was hard to feel too bad about the whole affair, though, given the absolutely stellar performance of Greta Oglesby as Paulina.

Robin Goodrin Nordli as Roxane with Rex Young as Christian. Photo: T. Charles Erickson 2006
Later that evening, I attended what turned out to be the closest thing to a summer blockbuster OSF is likely to turn out. Rostand's Cyrano de Bergerac, in all of its 17th century frills and wigs, roared onto the stage at over 3 hours with nearly all of the regular repertory actors in the cast in an all-swashing/all-buckling extravaganza. While it was nearly impossible to feel emotionally connected to this seemingly endless concoction, it was hard not to admire all of the craft that went into putting it together. Robin Goodrin Nordli’s Roxane went a long way in holding all the pyrotechnics together. She is one of my favorite OSF actors in recent seasons and this performance continued to demonstrate she can deliver the goods. Deserving special notice, Richard Howard covered for the ailing lead without missing a beat.

So the final score card for OSF this year was definitely a winning one overall: two outright successes in Bus Stop and The Two Gentlemen of Verona, 3 high-quality enjoyable shows despite their flaws - King John, The Winter's Tale, and Cyrano de Bergerac, and only one real loss in Merry Wives. As has been true in the past, this is a much better record compared to any set of six plays I might see elsewhere over the year and that is the main reason I keep heading back up to Southern Oregon. If you haven’t gone, you should.

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