MTT Conducts Brahms at SFS
Oakland Opera Theater's 2008-2009 Season

Queenie Pie at Oakland Opera Theater

Queeniepie  * Notes *
Duke Ellington's Queenie Pie closes this afternoon at Oakland Opera Theater. The unfinished work was arranged and orchestrated by Marc Bolin and the libretto completed by Tommy Shepherd. The opera was extremely charming, especially the first half, which takes place in Harlem. The sets looked great, especially the city scene back drops. The costumes were comely, and included many fancy hats, gloves, and belts. Queen Pie's platinum blond wig was not convincing, but was not terribly distracting. The dancing was strong, and Tania Johnson was particularly fabulous in this regard, as the Lady Reporter. Kathleen Antonia was perfect as Queenie Pie's rival, Café Olay, completely committed to the choreography and quite self-possessed. Her voice started off slightly shaky but was entirely lovely. Amanda King's voice was also beautiful, rich and pleasant. For the most part, her acting as Queenie Pie was good, though a few words were jumbled in Act II. The rest of the cast was less even, though all the singing was pretty, some were a bit quiet when not right up at one of the many microphones.

Act II was slightly less focused than Act I, when Queenie goes off to some unnamed island in search of a
magical amulet. The quartet of sailors sang some cute drinking songs and the three moon trees sounded wonderfully ethereal. Queenie ends up shipwrecked on a tropical isle with a distinctly tiki bar aesthetic, complete with grass skirts and exotic drinks. Seaon Bristol was utterly hilarious as the Crown Prince, and was a good foil for the rather more serious King, William Tull. The ending was darkly humorous.

* Tattling *
The house was entirely full, and the audience was enthusiastic, though they talked a bit too much during the music. The seats at are still pretty uncomfortable at Oakland Opera Theater, but at least they have real restrooms now. Though all very attractive, some of the costumes were not the most flattering, a bit of upper arm cellulite was on view. Some of the dresses also looked like they could use a once over with a garment steamer. However, it was a fine performance with a lot of heart, and I only wish I could have gone earlier in the run, so that I could catch it again.