Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, (7/07/2011 - 9/04/2011)

First Preview: Jun 14, 2011
Opening Date: Jul 07, 2011
Closing Date: Sep 04, 2011
Total Previews: 26
Total Performances: 67

Category: Play, Revival, Broadway
Setting: A Master Class with Maria Callas in an auditorium at the Juilliard School.

Opening Night Production Staff

Theatre Owned / Operated by Manhattan Theatre Club (Lynne Meadow, Artistic Director; Barry Grove, Managing Director)

Produced by Manhattan Theatre Club (Lynne Meadow, Artistic Director; Barry Grove, Executive Producer); Produced by arrangement with Max Cooper, Maberry Theatricals, Marks-Moore-Turnbull Group and Ted Snowdon; Artistic Producer: Mandy Greenfield

Written by Terrence McNally; Musical Director: Bradley Moore

Directed by Stephen Wadsworth

Scenic Design by Thomas Lynch; Costume Design by Martin Pakledinaz; Lighting Design by David Lander; Sound Design by Jon Gottlieb; Wig Design by Paul Huntley; Make-Up Design by Angelina Avallone; Associate Scenic Design: Charlie Corcoran; Assistant Costume Design: Sarah Cubbage; Associate Lighting Design: Ben Pilat; Assistant Sound Design: Veronika Vorel

MTC General Manager: Florie Seery; Company Manager: Seth Shepsle; MTC Associate General Manager: Lindsey Brooks Sag

Production Stage Manager: Susie Cordon; Production Manager: Joshua Helman; Stage Manager: Allison Sommers; Associate Prod. Mgr: Bethany Weinstein; Assistant Prod. Mgr: Kevin Service

Vocal Coach: Kate Wilson; MTC Artistic Line Producer: Lisa McNulty; MTC Director of Artistic Development: Jerry Patch; Press Representative: Boneau / Bryan-Brown; Advertising: SPOTCo, Inc.; MTC Director of Marketing: Debra Waxman-Pilla; MTC Director of Casting: Nancy Piccione; MTC Director of Development: Lynne Randall; Web Design: Calico Systems; Photographer: Joan Marcus; Press Associate: Christine Olver

Opening Night Cast

Tyne DalyMaria Callas
Sierra BoggessSharon Graham
Clinton BrandhagenStagehand
Jeremy CohenManny
Alexandra SilberSophie De Palma
Garrett Sorenson Anthony Candolino

Understudies: Jacqueline Antaramian (Maria Callas), Brian Calì (Anthony Candolino, Stagehand), Dan K. Kurland (Manny) and Leah Edwards (Sharon Graham, Sophie De Palma)

Awards and Nominations

Tony Award®

 2012 Best Revival of a Play [nominee] 

Produced by Manhattan Theatre Club (Lynne Meadow, Artistic Director; Barry Grove, Executive Producer); Produced by arrangement with Max Cooper, Maberry Theatricals, Marks-Moore-Turnbull Group and Ted Snowdon


AM NY: "Master Class--3.5 Stars"

"When you're fat and ugly, you had better have a couple of high F's you can interpolate into your life."

Such is the blunt advice delivered by the difficult and exacting Greek-American soprano Maria Callas to an audience of opera fans in Terrence McNally's 1995 play "Master Class," which is receiving an excellent revival from Manhattan Theatre Club starring Tyne Daly.

The play is based on a series of master classes that Callas - once the world's most prominent dramatic soprano - held at the Juilliard School in the early 1970s after her singing voice had weakened.

Callas spends much of the play dissecting, criticizing and reshaping the performances of three young opera singers - two of whom aspire to achieve her success, and another who finally reacts to her bullying by pointing out how Callas caused her own downfall.

At two points, she loses track of time and dips into memories of being an overlooked conservatory student, her marriage to an older man and then her affair with Greek shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis.

Even if the play is essentially a monologue mixed with some opera selections, it makes for a thrilling ride and is one of McNally's most compelling works.

The role of Callas was originated by Zoe Caldwell, who was then replaced by Patti LuPone.

Daly wears an extraordinary amount of makeup in order to resemble the real-life Callas - so much so that it functions rather like a mask that limits the expressive quality of her face.

But as directed by Stephen Wadsworth, Daly combines the character's tough exterior and emotional ferocity with pitch-perfect comedic timing, the theatricality of a diva, and apparent signs of insecurity and vulnerability.

Sierra Boggess ("The Little Mermaid"), Alexandra Silber and Garrett Sorenson make charismatic turns as Callas' brave students and offer impressive vocal renditions from several bel canto operas.


Backstage: "Master Class"

Manhattan Theatre Club has imported this production of "Master Class" from the Kennedy Center's 2010 tribute to playwright Terrence McNally, where it was a sizeable hit. Spruced up with some recasting and featuring an improved turn from star Tyne Daly, the show should repeat its D.C. success.

The simple setup, which has legendary opera singer Maria Callas conducting a class for music students, was suggested by Callas' experiences teaching in the early 1970s at Manhattan's Juilliard School. Retired from performing, she is intent upon passing on what she can to the next generation. As Callas pontificates, reminisces, intimidates, cajoles, and lectures both the students and the audience, McNally paints a fascinating character portrait while also examining the nature and purpose of art and those making it.

In D.C., Daly and director Stephen Wadsworth seemed to have decided to deemphasize the diva in Callas in favor of a more empathetic approach to the character. But after reading several interviews with Daly in which she says that because she lacks such qualities as Callas' glamour and hauteur ("Have you noticed I play blue-collar a lot?" the actor asked's Harry Haun), she resisted McNally's entreaties to do the role, it now seems that the star just needed time to find her footing. That she has done triumphantly, integrating a cutting edge into her performance without sacrificing a submerged warmth that makes Daly's Callas fascinatingly unique in the pantheon of memorable performances in the role by the likes of Faye Dunaway, Dixie Carter, Patti LuPone, and, of course, the Tony-winning and utterly sublime original, Zoe Caldwell. Daly is now working at the absolute top of her game, and it's inspiring to watch this superb actor stretching herself instead of playing it safe.

Carryovers from D.C. include Clinton Brandhagen's amusingly unimpressed stagehand and Jeremy Cohen's sweetly puppyish accompanist. Also back is the excellent Alexandra Silber as soprano Sophie De Palma, a young singer who hasn't counted on being required to act. Silber distills an enticingly original character out of Sophie's at first eager, then increasingly bewildered and desperate interactions with her teacher. When Sophie suddenly gets the approval she has given up on receiving, Silber's rendering of her not knowing what to do with it is touching and true.

New to the company are Metropolitan Opera tenor Garrett Sorenson, in his dramatic stage debut, as student Anthony Candolino, and Broadway and West End vet Sierra Boggess as student soprano Sharon Graham. Sorenson sings the hell out of an aria from "Tosca," but what's most impressive is his acting. He beautifully captures Tony's protective bravado, then is completely convincing when that bravado must instantly crumble, making Tony's plea to Callas to help him become a better singer quietly moving. Boggess is an intriguing choice for Sharon, a role created by a formidable Audra McDonald. You never believed Callas' pronouncement that McDonald's Sharon would not be up to the great diva roles such as Norma or Lady Macbeth. It made the star seem jealous and spiteful. The more self-effacing Boggess, who had to learn how to sing opera for the part, does a more than respectable job with Lady Macbeth's passionate letter aria, but Boggess makes it clear that the role is not in Sharon's persona. Thus Sharon's stinging denunciation of Callas' verdict, which Boggess handles with great skill, is instead a troubling example of the harsh truths necessary in the making of a great artist, and we admire the diva for having the guts to say it even as it saddens us.

Daly still seems occasionally uncomfortable in Wadsworth's rather effortful staging of McNally's two long interior monologues for Callas, in which her thoughts drift off to people and events in her past. But it's a minor quibble about a performance filled with invention and intelligence. Just watch what Daly does in her final moment on stage, which involves an orange. That's magic. Brava, diva!


Replacement/Transfer Info

The following people are credited as replacements or additions if they were not credited on opening night.

Samuel J. Friedman Theatre

(7/7/2011 - 9/4/2011)
Company Manager: Erin Moeller(Jul 2011 - ?).

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