Artes de la Rosa Cultural Center for the Arts
Directed by Adam Adolfo
Stage Management - Joanna Osorio
Scenic Designer - Oliver Luke
Lighting Designer - Justin Treece
Costume Designer - Carl Ramsey
Sound Designer - Adam Adolfo
Hair & Makeup - Amy Brown
Board Producer - Michael Matthews
Eddie Carbone ? Eddie Zertuche
Catherine ? Stephanie Cleghorn
Beatrice ? Yvonne Duque
Rudolpho ? Abel Flores Jr.
Marco ? JP Cano
Alfieri ? Carlos Iruegas
Louis ? Jamie Issac "Jimmy" Moreno
Mike ? Fredy Edward Quiroga
Tony ? Cole Spivey
Mrs. Donedero ? Jacqui Rash
Ensemble ? Tyler Cochran, Alyssa Maldonado, Laura Watson
Reviewed Performance 8/26/2011
Reviewed by Bonnie K. Daman, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
I have a confession to make.
Maybe it's the intense, unending Texas heat that had scrambled my ability to tell one day from the next but I had a complete blonde moment this past Friday night (yes, I'm technically a blonde) and showed up at Rose Marine Theater a day early to review their current production of Arthur Miller's A View from the Bridge. I've dreaded such a thing happening too because I'm a little OCD about being on time and making deadlines. Plus, it could actually create a huge inconvenience for the house manager. Awkward!
I didn't realize my mistake though until about halfway through the show. Suffice to say, Director Adam Adolfo was more than happy to welcome me and my guest for the evening and I was incredibly thankful for his accommodation. It was, after all, opening night! Excitement was in the air for Artes de la Rosa's kick off of their 2012-2013 season and plenty of friends and family were there to support the cast, crew, staff and Board of Directors.
The lights were dimmed and the auditorium was misty with fog as we found our way to a pair of empty seats. The sounds of water lapping on an unseen shore created the effect of a waterfront in Brooklyn, New York where the story takes place in 1957. A dilapidated brick wall served as the backdrop with two arches cut out of the set piece equidistant from each other.
Strung from the stage floor on either side were taut cables that connected two larger cross-cables suspended overhead which created a striking architectural framework for the overall set design. The cables were segmented and spaced proportionately for the actors to maneuver through them, and their presence alluded to a bridge in reference to the play's title. Paired with the lighting, and when directed just right, the cables cast the perfect display of eerie shadows that fell across the stage and cast.
Act One opened introducing Eddie Carbone and his family: his wife, Beatrice, and orphaned 17-year-old niece, Catherine. A proud and difficult man, it was evident Carbone thrived on the respect given to him by his family - that they were considerate of his opinion and his approval, and grateful for his provision. What his greatest claim, and what ultimately became his downfall, was his relationship with and peculiar adoration for his young, vibrant niece.
During a peak time of immigration into the United States the family was awaiting the arrival of Beatrice's two cousins who were entering the country illegally in hopes of creating a better life for their families ? Marco, the older of the two who had a wife and children back home, and Rudolpho, a charismatic, platinum blonde who caught the eye of young Catherine.
The budding romance between Catherine and Rudolpho was disapproved of by Carbone whose jealous rage began to take a toll on the family's well-being. By Act Two, Carbone had lost nearly all control, and having ignored advice from his wife and friend/lawyer Alfieri, also the show's narrator, Carbone had down-spiraled and made a desperate and tragic attempt to keep from losing Catherine.
Director Adam Adolfo had a masterpiece on his hands, and his rendition
of A View from the Bridge was not taken lightly. I liked how he described the play as a "modern Greek tragedy" because in true essence it's a story that could be told across the span of time and cultures.
Adolfo's direction, from his cast to the lighting, was intricate and daring. Everything had a purpose. When one actor shoved a chair out of anger it was more than expressing his emotion, it was changing the scene, placing that prop for the next character. The fight scenes were intense and unpredictable, and the constant use of the aisles and the floor area in front of the stage kept the show moving. Even performing in the space far upstage behind the backdrop extended the boundaries of the set, and created different dynamics in the sound and delivery for the actors.
It was fascinating to notice smaller moments within a scene when my attention should have been drawn elsewhere. For instance, Catherine and Rudolpho shared a shy, intimate kiss in the dark when
"technically" no one was looking. A couple danced in the moonlight downstage from the main characters - just a simple moment that added depth to the production.
On a grander scale, Adolfo orchestrated the boxing and fight scenes, both turning points in the storyline, in such a way that several times I wished I had a rewind button so I could re-watch something that made me ask "Did that just happen?" It was a rollercoaster of my senses.
Adolfo especially knew how to maximize the presence of the Ensemble to increase the intensity of a scene. There was a powerful moment in Act Two when Carbone walked a straight line across stage and through the Ensemble, slow and deliberate with all eyes on him. It was a significant moment for the character and any guilt or regret he was trying hard to dismiss remained due to the accusatory faces of the Ensemble.
Guiding the audience through the show was Carlos Iruegas as Alfieri. The character reminded me of Masterpiece Theater's original host Alistair Cooke from the 70's and 80's, obviously without the British accent and in a much darker setting. It was his job to usher in the title characters and set the groundwork for what the audience was about to see or what we had just witnessed. Iruegas' portrayal was succinct and well-paced but I much preferred when he transitioned into the actual character of the lawyer. His intensity easily matched that of the other actors and he seemed to have a better connection with the script.
Not for Iruegas' lack of projection, the segments of narration were difficult to hear fully due to the Ensemble making their way across the somewhat creaky stage. If the stage was as old as the building, meaning from sometime during the 1920's, that might have explained it.
In the role of Marco, JP Cano did a complete 180 degrees between Act One and Two. In the beginning his presence onstage flew under the radar for the most part, and I had the impression that was all his character was going to have to offer. Happily, I was wrong. His performance was heartfelt, as the young father and husband working to provide for his family, but when he became fierce and emboldened to fight Carbone, Cano was startling and held nothing back.
Rudolpho, Marco's single, handsome and "questionably-talented" younger brother was magnificently played by Abel Flores Jr. who seemed to really embrace his blonde hairstyle. Paired with Cano, the two gave a truthful portrayal of brothers thrust into a foreign country with only each other for support. I loved watching the connection between Rudolpho and Catherine unfold. His performance in Act Two's opening scene was exasperating, and then tender and romantic seconds later, but his transitions were incredibly natural.
The enviable role of Beatrice, the matriarch and peacemaker of this cast of characters, was portrayed by Yvonne Duque. Beatrice represented the ultimate struggle between love, loyalty, respect and family. Being a woman, I couldn't help but identify with the character on a few occasions (both of the lead females for that matter) and I attributed that to Duque's exceptional performance. One of Duque's standout moments was the decision for Beatrice to either attend her niece's wedding or choose to submit to her husband, as corrosive as their relationship had become. I was frustrated for her character which spoke volumes to Duque's talent to convey the anguish created in that scene.
Stephanie Cleghorn equally matched Duque as Catherine, the feisty ing?nue. Cleghorn transformed over the course of the show, from a touchy-feely ignorant youth to being abruptly awakened to the over-protectiveness and jealousies of her uncle. Cleghorn was riveting in her performance and the chemistry between her and Carbone, while never sensual, was borderline flirtatious and her motivations always innocent. Cleghorn did a fine job crafting that tension between them, and it was easy to foresee the path in which they were headed.
As the protagonist of the show, Eddie Zertuche gave a harrowing, eye-opening performance as Eddie Carbone. Because of the nature of the plot, I half expected Carbone to be a sleazy character that would make me want to cringe, but Zertuche built up this lovable yet tragic persona who was anything but creepy. He was irrational but at times I found myself agreeing with his reasoning, when Carbone tried to convince Catherine of Rudolpho's ulterior motives for their relationship. Zertuche successfully convinced himself he was in the right which made the audience more susceptible to believing as well.
Carbone's descent into complete possessiveness over Catherine, and his disregard for any tolerance or forgiveness toward the other characters began in Act Two. Zertuche was maniacal onstage, and enveloped in such hatred and jealousy, it was challenging to watch him linger in such a dark mindset. When Zertuche demanded, "Give me my name! I want my name", the tension in the room was thick, and I was literally on the edge of my seat. In the end Carbone was a helpless character because he could never have what he wanted. Zertuche was outstanding in the role and definitely in the running for one of my top performances of the year.
I wasn't always keen on reviewing a show on its opening night. I figured let the cast get settled in with an audience and one live show under their belt before I showed up. Since I botched that plan for seeing A View from the Bridge the night after, I was pleasantly surprised to see that this cast didn't need an opening night to work out any final kinks or jitters. It was a splendid performance and a play I won't easily forget.
A View from the Bridge
Artes de la Rosa Rose Marine Theater
1440 N Main Street, Fort Worth, TX 76164
Runs through September 11th
Fridays/Saturdays at 7:30 pm, Sunday matinees at 2:30 pm
Tickets are $18.00 Fridays and Saturdays and $12 for seniors and students with ID. Tickets are $15 on Sundays and $10 for senior and students.
For tickets and information, please call 817-624-8333 or go to www.rosemarinetheater.com