Category Archives: Review

Peoria Live Theatre League Sings the Praises of “Master Class”

We received a stellar review of our current production of Master Class from The Live Theatre League of Greater Peoria’s website!  Here are some of the highlights…

Review of Master Class
Peoria Cabaret Theatre
March 4, 2011
By Douglas Okey

 Even theatre-goers who do not know opera know Maria Callas.  Comparisons to Charlie Sheen or Lindsay Lohan stretch the point, but to some degree Callas was a bad girl in her day.  Scandal and controversy seemed to trail La Divina, as she was sometimes called.  Most familiar to many Americans might be her long-time dalliance with billionaire Aristotle Onassis, who later put the “O” in “Jackie O.” 

The Maria Callas at the center of Terence McNally’s 1995 play Master Class,directed by Andrew Driscoll for Peoria Cabaret Theatre at the Waterhouse, has long since put most of the eyebrow-raising behind her.  The story is inspired by a series of master classes in opera that Callas conducted at Juilliard in the early 1970s.  This Callas very much plays the diva with her students and support staff, but McNally’s play explores the complex demands placed upon an artist in the public eye.   

In the story, Callas, played here by Susan Somerville Brown, addresses the audience as she prepares to work individually with students coming in to work with the legendary soprano.  She interacts with the classroom accompanist, Manny (a subtle performance by Anthony Roberts) and a stagehand played by Ed Peck.  In these dealings, Callas behaves with an air of entitlement that would make Naomi Campbell proud, but a warm sense of humor blunts the point of her sting.  Still, the students—two sopranos played by Rebecca Meyer and Elisabeth Richter and a tenor played by Jarod Hazzard—stand suitably in awe of her fame and talent.  These accomplished singers each bring out a different aspect of Callas’s personality, and those aspects are not always flattering.

…Somerville Brown’s Callas demands our attention from the moment she takes the stage.  She demonstrates the ability to capture and control; she captivated the opening night audience at several key moments throughout the play.  It’s easy to imagine how small one might feel under that steely gaze for too long, so we can sympathize with the students.  As she gradually reveals bits and pieces of her past, always with the dismissive, “But that’s another story,” we begin to understand how the eye of the public took its toll on Callas herself… It is a gripping performance in a daunting role… 

Playgoers note: though opera is the subject, no special familiarity with either the music or the industry is required to enjoy this fine performance

 You can read the full review HERE.

 Master Class continues this Friday and Saturday, March 11 and 12 at The WaterhouseReservations can be made by calling The Waterhouse office at 309.494.9100 or ONLINE HERE. The doors will open at 6pm for cocktails and a three course plated dinner is served starting at 6:30pm. The show will begin promptly at 8:00pm.  Admission is $45 with a portion of every full price admission donated to Opera Illinois League.


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The Live Theatre League Goes “Back in Time” at THE PROM

Check out this radical review of The Awesome 80s Prom from The Live Theatre League of the Greater Peoria Area’s website!

Review of Awesome 80s Prom

Peoria Cabaret Theatre (at the Waterhouse)
By Cara Rosson

I have to admit that the “Awesome 80s Prom” dinner theatre experience at The Waterhouse had me hooked at the front door. The sign there welcomed Wanaget High’s Class of 1989 to the Senior Prom. I graduated from high school in the actual 1989, so I was terribly excited to see what the Peoria Cabaret Theatre would do to take me back to my own youth, and mostly fond memories of my chartreuse sequined dress, big hair, and bad boy date Tommy McKenna.

Just walking up the stairs, you start the evening meeting characters from the show. The first one I encountered was Wanaget High’s “bad boy,” Nick Fender, played by a sexy cool Nick Miller, sneaking a sip from his flask and nodding a subtle “Hey.” I was then greeted by the very chipper drama teacher, Mrs. Lascalzo – played with aplomb by Carmen McCarthy.

After checking in, and getting my table assignment from the sweetly self-effacing freshman yearbook photographer (an adorable Hope Grandon), I headed to the bar for a margarita, one thing I was not able to do at my senior prom but definitely enjoyed about this retrospective experience. One of the perks of aging, and dinner theatre, I suppose.

The immersion back into high school and prom night was continual. There was always some crazy conversation or intrigue happening next to you, or across the room. The cast does a great job of keeping the action going, giving the audience something to watch or listen to throughout the evening. Even if you couldn’t hear what they were saying, it was usually clear what was happening, whether the captain of the football team was breaking up with the head cheerleader, or Principal Smellgrove, I mean Snelgrove, was hollering at a misbehaving student, or the head of the prom committee was freaking out over her defaced decorations. It honestly felt a bit like I was back in Goshen, NY, in 1989, looking around the room of the Pier 9 banquet hall, watching my own senior class flirt, and fight, and dance and sing. Continue reading

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Peoria Journal Star Sings the Praises of “The Musical of Musicals (The Musical!)”

We received a stellar review from The Peoria Journal Star!  Here is a copy in case you missed it…


Five of Broadway’s signature styles get spun at the Waterhouse


of the Journal Star

Posted Mar 07, 2010 @ 07:18 PM

If you’re looking for a decent meal and sheer hilarity, you could do worse than “The Musical of Musicals: The Musical!” It’s running Downtown at the Waterhouse.

First staged in 2005 at New York’s Dodger Stages, “The Musical of Musicals” is the parody to end all parodies of that 20th century American art form that now – thanks to Andrew Lloyd Webber – has come to acquire a distinctively British accent.

A horribly hackneyed storyline about a heroine who can’t pay the rent to an evil landlord but who is eventually rescued by a handsome hero receives five different satirical spins: in the styles of Rodgers and Hammerstein, Stephen Sondheim, Jerry Herman, Webber, and Kander and Ebb.

Theater insiders especially will enjoy “The Musical of Musicals.” There are allusions to “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,” “Into the Woods,” “Hello, Dolly!” “Evita,” “Joseph and the Amazing Technnicolor Dreamcoat,” “Oklahoma!” and more. You don’t have to be a musical-theater know-it-all, however, to enjoy this piece.

Directed by Andrew Driscoll with assistance from Ed Peck, the whole thing is so lively and silly and light-hearted it’s sure to hold your attention. As much celebration as send-up, it also might tempt you to revisit all of those old chestnuts at a local community theater near you.

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Filed under News, Review, The Musical of Musicals