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  • gilwilson 6:00 PM on January 30, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , matthew wolf, stacy keach, stephen collins,   

    Hamlet By: William Shakespeare (L.A. Theatre Works) 

    Hamlet13399175
    By: William Shakespeare
    Starring: Alan Mandell, Josh Stamberg, Emily Swallow, Stephen Collins, Stacy Keach, JoBeth Williams, Matthew Wolf
    Length: 3 hrs and 13 mins
    Release date: 02-15-12
    Publisher: L.A. Theatre Works

    Before we get to far into this review I have to talk about L.A. Theatre Works. L.A. Theatre Works audio abilities are phenomenal.  I mean, come on, I don’t think I could sit and just listen to a play for 3 hours without getting bored. That is just not the case with L.A. Theatre Works recordings.  A combination of excellent production along with casts that are just phenomenal create an audio theatre experience that will bring the stage to you.

    One of the things that intrigued me most about this was that it had Stacy Keach. I love Stacy Keach’s performances, whether on Cheech & Chong’s “Up In Smoke,” or an episode of “Mike Hammer,” Keach has some serious acting chops. As Hamlet’s father’s ghost Keach hooked me from the beginning.

    With the caliber of actors in all their performances any production from L.A. Theatre Works deserves your attention.

    So in case you have been under a rock for the past 500 years or so, here’s the Publisher’s Summary:

    Shakespeare’s timeless story of revenge, corruption, and murder is considered one of the greatest works in the English language. Composed over 400 years ago, the tragic tale of young Prince Hamlet remains one of the theater’s most studied and performed works, presented here in a new full-cast recording, directed by Martin Jarvis and featuring a special appearance by Stacy Keach as The Ghost.

    An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring: Josh Stamberg as Hamlet; Stephen Collins as King Claudius; JoBeth Williams as Queen Gertrude; Stacy Keach as The Ghost; Alan Mandell as Polonius; Emily Swallow as Ophelia; JD Cullum as Laertes; Matthew Wolf as Horatio; Mark Capri as Ambassador and others; Josh Clark as Gravedigger, Voltemand and others; Henri Lubatti as Rosencrantz and others; Jon Matthews as Guildenstern and others; Darren Richardson as Player Queen and others; André Sogliuzzo as Reynaldo and others. Directed by Martin Jarvis. Recorded at the Invisible Studios, West Hollywood, in August 2011.

    ©2012 L.A. Theatre Works (P)2012 L.A. Theatre Works

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  • gilwilson 10:05 PM on January 14, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , bertold brecht, church doctrine, , galileo, galileo galilei, , , , , , stacy keach   

    “The Life of Galileo” by Bertold Brecht (produced by L.A. Theatre Works) 

    Brecht_TheLifeofGalileo

    “The Life of Galileo”
    by Bertold Brecht
    translated by David Hare
    Multi-cast performance
    Produced by L. A. Theatre Works
    Approx 2 hours

    I was getting ready to start a couple of audiobooks that were time consumers (any audiobook over 10 hours falls under that label for me). Not only were they long but they were both going to be espionage/government cover-up type stories and those require a huge commitment, especially since I was going to start them both at the same time. Before I tackled those two books, I wanted to listen to something that swallows you into the story, so I reached for one of my favorite go to publishers of audio, L.A. Theatre Works. I have a list of several go to(s) that I know will entertain me. What I like most about LATW is that they are plays that have been performed on stage and the producers take special care to record all the audio so that nothing is missed.

    As a proud owner of a degree in theatre, I have always been aware that theatre is a visual medium, especially if you ask all my theatrical designer friends, but also being a proud owner of a Radio / TV broadcasting degree I know that the theatre of the mind power of radio is a strong power. L.A. Theatre Works takes the time to make sure their performances that are transferred over to an audiobook format take the visual artistry and make it work in an audio format. This is achieved with excellent sound effects, music and of course the great acting. When an actor is describing a prop that is seen by the audience, the production and performance create the image in the listener’s mind that ensures nothing is missed.

    This production features a full-cast performance featuring: Neil Dickson, Roy Dotrice, Jeannie Elias, Jill Gascoine, Stacy Keach, Peter Lavin, Robert Machray, Christopher Neame, Moira Quirk, Darren Richardson, Alan Shearman, Simon Templeman, Joanne Whalley, Matthew Wolf

    What attracted me to this particular production from the vaults of L.A. Theatre Works is that the part of Galileo is played by Stacy Keach. Every performance I’ve ever seen or heard with Mr. Keach, whether comedy or tragedy, he has owned that role. Not so long ago I listened to an LATW performance of “Death of a Salesmen” in which Keach played Willie Loman and that became my favorite performance of that play. I will always be a fan of his.

    This play portrays Galileo Galilei as he shatters the world’s beliefs which have been dictated by the church for two millennia, in that we are not the center of the universe. When Galileo first lays his hands on a telescope and observes that the Earth is one of a few planets in the solar system that revolve around the sun and that the planets and stars are not held in suspension through crystal spheres, as believed by the church, he becomes a target for the Holy Inquisition. Committing such heresy Galileo is made to suffer torture, mentally and physically under the inquisitor. Galileo provides proof that only needs to be observed but the church stands firm.

    In a play that shows how advancements in science are hindered by long held beliefs this production from L.A. Theatre Works, is one that should be heard by anyone seeking truth.

     
  • gilwilson 10:52 PM on May 4, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , carol kane, , , , mccarthyism, , , , salem witch hunt, salem witches, stacy keach, , ,   

    “The Crucible” by Arthur Miller from the “Arthur Miller Collection” from L.A. Theatre Works 

    “The Crucible”
    by Arthur Miller
    Produced by L.A. Theatre Works
    Included in “The Arthur Miller Collection”
    Starring: Irene Aranga, Rene Auberjonois, Ed Begley Jr, Georgia Brown, Jack Coleman, Bud Cort, Richard Dreyfuss, Judyann Elder, Hector Elizondo, Fionnula Flanagan, Ann Hearne, Carol Kane, Stacy Keach, Anna Sophie Loewenberg, Marian Mercer, Franklyn Seales, Madolyn Smith, Joe Spano and Michael York
    118 minutes

    Continuing on in this collection of 10 plays from L.A. Theatre Works’ “The Arthur Miller Collection,” I’ve just finished with a very cool play that has a bit of a double meaning. “The Crucible” was Arthur Miller’s answer to the Communism accusations from McCarthyism and the blacklisting of accused communists. During the days when Senator McCarthy was finding Communists hiding behind every doorway, Arthur Miller was questioned by the House of Representatives’ Committee on Un-American Activities in 1956 and convicted of “contempt of Congress” for refusing to identify others present at meetings he had attended. So what seemed like a witch hunt Arthur was spurred to write “The Crucible.” While “The Crucible” may not be entirely historically accurate it does represent the scare tactics and deplorable actions during the Salem Witch trials and the Committee on Un-American Activities.

    L. A. Theatre works has produced a great version of this play with some of the greatest actors ever. Each one brings to audio life this play that portrays a dark time in history and serves as an allegory for another dark time centuries later. The cast alone is enough to move the play along in this production, but there is one other “actor” that is not credited that really allowed me as a listener to feel the burdens of the convicted Satanists, that “actor” was the special effects, especially those of the chains used to hold the prisoners. The sound effects of the chains was so real and yet surreal in that their audio level was promoted to the point where I could feel the weight of the chains myself. This really made the experience more life-like.

    When a girl of the village of Salem, Massachusetts is found unconscious, and is suspected because of dabbling in witchcraft accusations begin to fly. What soon happens is that one of the local farmers’ wife is accused by a girl who once had an affair with the farmer and wants the wife out of the way. Soon many of the women and even some men are bound in chains and thrown in jail. With the threat of unChristian activities set to destroy the very fabric of the town and government, the accused are threatened to either confess their dealings with Satan or be hanged. Even if they have nothing to confess if they don’t confess they get hanged.

    In a play that presents the choice of lying to live and destroy your reputation or tell the truth and be killed and thus destroying the reputation of your family, the drama and suspense abounds. The language written in the play pulls from the sound of the language of the Bible and each actor makes the words sound so natural that it adds more depth to the play. Top it off with this excellent cast and production and this is one version of “The Crucible” you won’t want to miss.

     
  • gilwilson 1:45 AM on September 26, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , death of a salesman, jane Kaczmarek, , , stacy keach, , willie loman   

    “Death of a Salesman” by Arthur Miller 

    “Death of a Salesman”
    by Arthur Miller
    a full cast audio performance
    starring Stacy Keach and Jane Kaczmarek
    Produced by L.A. Theatre Works
    approx 2 hours

    Once again I’m going back to my theatre roots and listening to an audio performance of a classic play, “Death of a Salesman.”  While in college I acted out a scene from this play and from that moment I fell in love with it.  Not sure why, I mean, it’s not really a happy play, but something about this play grabbed me.  I think mainly because it was the first play I’d read and performed and that it seemed to tell it straight.  Life does not always turn out like you want.

    When I ran across this audio performance from L.A. Theatre Works (LATW), I knew I had to give it a listen mainly because of Stacy Keach.  He’s a subtle actor yet can give you a larger than life performance.  In this performance he knocked it out of the ball park.  I had seen a version of the play on television with Dustin Hoffman as Willie Loman and thought at that time I had just seen the only person who I could ever picture as Arthur Miller’s salesman.  But now I have to shift that to Keach.  Mr. Keach performed the role to perfection.  As you can see, I was highly impressed.

    Everyone in this performance was great, Jane Kaczmarek (you know, the mom in TV’s “Malcolm in the Middle”) did a wonderful job as Willie’s wife, Linda, but let’s face it the play is about Willie Loman, and the star shined brightly.  Actually while were talking about being impressed, this makes the 4th or 5th performance from LATW that I’ve heard and each time they impress me, not only with excellent casting, but the productions are superb.   Each release places the listener directly into the audience of the performance, with excellent sound effects, music and just a dash of the audience response to remind you you are listening to a performance.

    “Death of a Salesman” is the story of an aged salesmen who was always wanting the best for his family.  He wanted his boys to grow up and be well liked, not just liked, but WELL liked.  The problem is that the reality of Willie Loman’s life never really matched up to his dreams.  He is full of regrets, such as missed opportunities, never knowing his father and his son, Biff who was a High School football star that could have gone on to play in college.  The problem is that Biff flunked out of Math and refused to go to summer school and never went to college.

    The play takes place in Willie & Linda’s home when Biff is back from “out west.”  Hap, the other son, who is trying to follow in his father’s footsteps still lives near to home, is also visiting.  Willie cuts short his trip from Boston because he nearly runs off the road while driving.  Wille has lately become a victim to his mind wandering and he starts revisiting his memories out loud.

    The play is told with a constant barrage of flashbacks from Willie’s point of view as he begins to see the reality of his dream.  Linda tells her sons of Willie’s troubles and that she believes he is trying to kill himself.  It all builds up to a scene, where to make their father happy, Biff and Hap attempt to go into business together, but reality comes crashing down on everyone leaving a tragic ending.

    This performance from L.A. Theatre Works is superb in every manner and this classic play is one that should not be missed.

     
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