Friday, August 12, 2022
HomeEntertainmentAfter 10 Years, Barrie Kosky Leaves His Opera House Dancing

After 10 Years, Barrie Kosky Leaves His Opera House Dancing

First, though, Kosky needs to finish the run, through July 10, of the “Revue,” an original creation he arrived at after not wanting his final production to be something expected, like an operetta, and after the pandemic upended his plans for a Stravinsky marathon. Few directors would, or could, dream up the result: a tribute to the Yiddish entertainment common at resorts in the Catskill Mountains during the mid-20th century.

“The list of performers who were there — it’s like a who’s who of American culture, all going to this Jewish utopian, sort of summer kibbutz,” Kosky said, mentioning the likes of Joan Rivers, Danny Kaye and Brooks. “I mean, what was the Catskills if not a kibbutz without politics?”

Paced like a playlist — with the accompanying ups, downs and, at times, lulls — the show features popular music arranged and conducted by Adam Benzwi (called Adam Benski from the stage) and follies-like choreography, with an eye for physical comedy, by Otto Pichler. Company members and guest stars appear in different guises, none more surprising than Dagmar Manzel in a rendingly sober turn from her riotous Cleopatra earlier last week.

Throughout, Kosky — who also hosts the show through prerecorded introductions — is committed to the bit in a delicate balance of irony and camp. Both men and women sing in drag; borscht belt humor (“below the girdle”) abounds; and the performers assume personas on a Marvel Cinematic Universe scale. There’s the “mezzo from Minsk” Sylvie Sonitzki, a boy band of orthodox Jews, and don’t forget the temple choir. In an ending out of something like Verdi’s “Falstaff,” Kosky brings out everyone, an enormous ensemble backed by an enormous orchestra, for a spectacle that, joyous and celebratory, sends off the audience with a command: “Dance!”

Kosky couldn’t have said goodbye any other way.

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