The Green Bird – Phoenixville Area High School in Phoenixville, PA.
November 23, 2015
Review submitted by Molly Harnish from Delaware County Christian School
What do you get when you mix an evil witch plotting to take over the kingdom, a talking statue, and two bratty kids who feel they deserve the throne? As Phoenixville Area High School’s Theater Guild demonstrated in their performance of The Green Bird, you get a fresh, original fairytale that keeps you laughing, despite the many tragedies.
Phoenixville’s cast performed Hillary DePiano’s adaptation of The Green Bird, originally written by Carlo Gozzi as a sequel to his play, The Love of Three Oranges. The Green Bird is a play in the Commedia dell’Arte style, characterized by masked characters, improvisation, physical comedy, and recognizable character types. The characters are separated from their families, undergo curses, quests, and trials to arrive at the play’s final conclusion: your family and friends may be dysfunctional and crazy, but no matter what, they are “your people.”
The cast’s energy mounted with each scene, anchored by the chemistry between pairs of characters. One such pair was Renzo (Jake Gould) and Barbarina (Xandra Coleman), who riffed off of each other to build a realistic sibling relationship, complete with playful banter. Another notable pair was that of Truffaldino (Joshua Bush) and Franceschina (Kaleigh Hartson), who portrayed the unconventional love of an unlikely couple with aplomb, winning many laughs from the audience.
Other standouts included Pantalone (David D’Ardenne), who masterfully used body language and a memorable voice to give his character a strong stage presence. His sense of comedic timing added a dose of reality to some of the fairy tale scenes. Another notable performance was that of King Tartaglia (Mark Wisely), who added his own dramatic flair to the production as he tried to reclaim his kingdom.
Although the cast did encounter a few sound issues, and a few actors stumbled over lines, they overcame those obstacles to deliver a memorable performance. The lighting was simple but effective in highlighting the action onstage, and the stage management crew kept the production moving almost flawlessly.
Phoenixville’s production of The Green Bird was rife with creativity, from the onstage sound effects to the use of instruments, and the dramatic flair of its cast carried the audience smoothly from the opening of the curtain to the final bow.
Review submitted by Emily Thompson from The Baldwin School
And they all lived happily ever after–that is, until the king goes off to war, the queen is locked in a dungeon, the twin prince and princess are left unidentified on the doorstep of peasants, leaving a wicked, fortune-hungry witch to take the throne.
The Green Bird, adapted by Hillary DePiano and originally written by Carlo Gozzi’s was a world premiere performed right at the Phoenixville Area High School. It is the sequel to the play, The Love for Three Oranges, performed by Phoenixville a few years ago. The performance uses recognizable characters types, masks, and improvisation to bring the audience to laughter in this Commedia dell’Arte style.
Phoenixville’s production was anchored by its humorous narrator, Calmon, the King of Statues (Nick Degen), as well as its strong opposing characters, the noble King Tartaglia (Mark Wisely) and the evil Smeraldina (Cali Mulzet).
Lead actors Xandra Coleman (playing Barbarina) and Jake Gould (Renzo) played well as a pair of siblings, using witty banter and vainglorious jokes, skillfully adding to their characters’ satire. Meanwhile, the moral compass of the show, Calmon, the King of Statues (Nick Degen), spoke with a clear and humorous voice. He used facial expressions and tone inflection to display intentions that were difficult to act out, due to his immobility. In addition, the wickedly sarcastic Smeraldina (Cali Mulzet) commanded each scene with authority and a distinct sense of purpose in her character.
The good intentioned, but cowardly Pantalone was portrayed well by David D’Ardenne, who used comedic character walks and motions to add to his purpose. Although she had minimal stage time, the tough Pompea, portrayed by Julianita Vlad, captivated the audience with her wit and strength. The ensemble of masked Zannis were hysterical, particularly through their movements in scenes such as the “Swan Fake” dancing scene in the twins’ palace and when the Tree Zanni was chopped for firewood.
The costumes of the show were appropriate and beautiful, such as the sparkling slinky gold dress of the Fata Serpentina (Mary Zeleski), and the Queen of Hearts-esque outfit of Smeraldina (Cali Mulzet). The lighting was impressive, going from full-stage lighting to individual spotlights seamlessly. Although there were occasional difficulties with microphones and sound, the actors were able to rise above these obstacles.
This new, but intricately plotted, play uses both physical and vocal humor to transport the audience to a fascinating land of potions, various curses, and true love that triumphs over all.