OFF BEAT

OFFBEAT: Oak Park Festival Theatre run of 'Amadeus' plays to eager audiences

Phil Potempa's daily entertainment news column
2013-07-06T00:00:00Z 2013-07-06T01:41:23Z OFFBEAT: Oak Park Festival Theatre run of 'Amadeus' plays to eager audiencesBy Philip Potempa philip.potempa@nwi.com, (219) 852-4327 nwitimes.com

Adapted to become the now noted Academy Award-winning Best Picture film of 1984, "Amadeus" began as a brilliant stage play of the same name seen on Broadway in 1981.

But today, it's not often a work that has returned to the stage.

"Amadeus," the renowned tale of the early life, later career and death of composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart by playwright Peter Shaffer, is once again playing to appreciative audiences for a well-executed run as an outdoor offering for Oak Park Festival Theatre's 39th summer season.

It's playing now until July 13 in Austin Gardens in beautiful downtown Oak Park, Ill.

The stage story is told as a narrative through the eyes of the real life rival composer Antonio Salieri, a favorite of the royal court and mostly fictionalized here as Mozart's most envious competitor.

Salieri is played here in perfect form by talented Kevin Theis as an artist who has devoted his life to God, with expectations that it will be his music heard and revered, hence his jealously of Mozart, played with wild exuberance by the wonderful Christopher Daley, with Meg Warner as his wifely counterpart Costanze.

Salieri makes it his life mission to destroy Mozart in hopes that his musical legacy will be forever lost.

The play is neatly directed by Mark Richard and opens with Salieri near death and recounting his mis-givings and assorted deadly deeds meant for destroying Mozart. He has assembled a talented cast with some certain standouts, besides the leads already mentioned, especially Kyle Gibson as calculating Count Orsini-Rosenberg.

The two and half hour production, with one 15-minute intermission, is showcased on a well-designed outdoor stage space, with a parade of amazing costumes.

Oak Park Festival Theatre is a professional theater company working under contract with Actors' Equity Association, highlighting various works, with an emphasis on William Shakespeare. I'm already looking forward to this group celebrating next year's 40th anniversary.

Performances of "Amadeus" are 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 7 p.m. Sundays at Austin Gardens Park at 160 N. Forest Ave. in Oak Park. Tickets are $15 to $25 with student and senior rates. FYI: oakparkfestival.com

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer. He can be reached at philip.potempa@nwi.com or (219) 852-4327.

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