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Portland Stage Company offers innovative theater

MISANI Special to the AmNews | 11/10/2011, 11:30 a.m.
The Portland Stage Company is a revered product that boasts the catchphrase: "Made in Maine."...
Portland Stage Company offers innovative theater

Set in Manhattan on upper Fifth Avenue in "the recent past," the 90-minute drama, sweetly sprinkled with great wit, starred Laura Esterman, who was riveting as Morini, and John G. Preston, who was brilliant as Brian Skarstad, a humble violin maker. The talented 12-year-old Seoyeon Kim was a joy to behold and listen to as the Violinist.

Fate brings together Morini and Skarstad when he is summoned to restore the legendary virtuoso violinist's Stradivarius. However, this is more than just a mere meeting, it is a rendezvous with destiny in the diva's declining years and Skarstad's prime. Each has something to offer the other-something they must learn in this transition period in their lives.

At the crux of their coming together is their perception of themselves. Morini thinks of herself as a gifted artist; Skarstad sees himself as an artisan. Morini has sacrificed her childhood and adulthood to pursue her art, a choice that resulted in her reaching the pinnacle of success in her career. Now as an elder she is alone except for her prized Stradivarius, her desire for marmalade and her love of dancing.

Skarstad, on the other hand, is married with a family, a dog and a job as a violin repairman. Yet, deep within himself lies his desire is to make his own line of violins. Where they are presently in their lives stems from life's cyclical journey and the choices they have made.

As Holzman ingenuously draws the audience into their lively, multilayered encounter, as hooked voyeurs of this experience we are also forced to examine our own life choices every step of the way.

Thoughtfully directed by Paul Meshejian, he achieved his goal as written in the Portland Stage Playnotes (Season 38, Issue 1). "If we do our job in the theater, the audiences will make connections with the characters and story through identification and empathy. I'm interested in theater that allows for that empathy, and I hope this play and this production offers audiences that opportunity."

"The Morini Strad" does offer the audience that opportunity. It is a well-played tune. New York will have the chance to see this gem from Portland Stage when it arrives in the city for a spring 2012 run.

And with the close of the curtain, Casting Pearls Awards are presented to Esterman, Preston and Kim. Bravo! Bravo!

Casting Pearls Awards are also presented to Holtzman, Meshejian and Portland Stage. Bravo!

Additional note: The evening's bonus were the passionate mixed media paintings of visual artist Daniel Minter on view in the Portland Stage theater lobby.

The Casting Pearls series pays tribute to the great talent of stage and film and presenting institutions.