Theatre ReviewsTom Williams

The Ring Cycle

Adapted from the operas by Richard Wagnerthe ring cycle adapted by the building stage chicago

Not an opera but a play that rocks

Co-directors: Blake Montgomery and Joane Schultz

Music composer based on Richard Wagner-Kevin O’ Donnell

A four part non-operatic theatrical drama

Marvelous six hour epic theatrical spectacle an artistic treasure

“Incest, Fratricide, Drowning, Murder, Revenge, Immolation–Twilight of the Gods'”-from Nordic Mythology that fuels The Ring Cycle

The Building Stage, under the splendid direction by Blake Montgomery and Joanie Schultz, specialize in stretching the boundaries in storytelling through unique adaptations from various media. Their staging of Wagner’s opera cycle, The Ring of the Nibelung–is NOT an OPERA–but a thrilling, totally engaging re-imagining drama (non-singing stage play).

the ring cycle adapted by the building stage chicago

Told in Two Parts–each containing two plays, The Ring Cycle is an epic re-telling of Nordic mythology: Rhinegold and Valkyrie in Part One with and intermission and  a 45 minute dinner break (you’re encouraged to bring food for an on-stage picnic);  Part Two shows : Siegfried and the evening ends with Twilight of the Gods.

the ring cycle adapted by the building stage chicago

Utilizing pop/rock original music, influenced by Wagner and composed by Kevin O’Donnell,  as underscoring that enhanced the mood and tone of each scene without being too loud or overpowering the drama. That and ample use of circus arts, puppetry (including excellent smart shadow puppets), exquisite set, sound, and lighting by by Lee Keenan, Meghan Raham, Chantal Calato and Justin Wardell, The Ring Cycle’s production values were first-class and most effective.

the ring cycle adapted by the building stage chicago

The libretti was spoken in a neo-Shakespearian style that found the eleven member cast enunciating and articulating the poetic, often rhyming dialogue deftly.  You’d be hard pressed to find a more glib group on non-Equity players.

the ring cycle adapted by the building stage chicago

Some of the more dominant performers were Chris Pomeroy as the pompous Wotan, the king of gods; Wm. Bullion and Bill O’ Connor as the dwarfs; Daiva Bhandan as Freia, Sieglinde and Gutrune and Darci Nalepa. Darci Nalepa was elocution as Loge and Brunnhilde.  Sarah Scanlon, Lindsey Dorcus and Lucy Carapetyan bravely presented, on silk, as the  Rhine Maidens and the Woodbirds. They sang two harmonious ditties.

the ring cycle adapted by the building stage chicago

A star is born with the tour de force performance by Nick Vidal, last seen as Dorian Gray at Lifeline Theatre. Vidal has the charm, the looks and the stage presence as the hero of Siegrfied and the Twilight of the Gods. His energy and articulate speech dominated his scenes.

the ring cycle adapted by the building stage chicago

I’m glad I spent six hours witnessing this absolutely mesmerizing theatrical epic. As each of the four plays quickly engaged me and kept me involved–the time swiftly went by. Theatre that is excellent–with terrific acting and marvelous staging–could hold me for days! There are enough breaks and variety among the Nordic myths to satisfy the most demanding theatre patron. Best to wikipedia, before attending, the Wagner’s The Ring Cycle to get a heads-up on the basic plots.

In 2010, I’ve reviewed 47 plays, including this spectacle. I must state that The Ring Cycle is my favorite show this year. It has everything anyone would want in a live stage show. Don’t miss this theatrical gem. The Building Stage should be proud of their ambitious work of art. They succeeded on a grand scale with this brilliantly executed show! They once again prove that Chicago theatre is magnificent!

(There is a special Monday performance with short breaks and no lunch break beginning at 7 pm)

Highly Recommended

Tom Williams

At the Building Stage, 412 N. Carpenter Street, Chicago, IL

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