Reviews, Features, Articles, Miscellany
(more on the way!)
director - The Magic Flute, Mozart/Schikaneder. World premiere of new English translation by Nick Olcott. The IN Series, DC, 2017
Andrew Walker White, DCMetro Theater Arts
… under the deft direction of Rick Davis, the In Series has brought a wonderfully accessible, hilarious, Magic Flute to life. With a cast of energetic, young voices, you are guaranteed an evening of delightful singing, slapstick, and – with a witty, modern libretto crafted by Nick Olcott – you’ll see some of the opera’s rough edges smoothed over for contemporary audiences. Purists might take issue with some of the plot shifts Olcott has created here, but there’s no denying that this Magic Flute holds together brilliantly as a crowd-pleaser.
Davis sets the production itself in the 1930s, when struggling artists worked in companies funded by the Works Progress Administration. The no-frills production values of those days, when any props or fabrics had to do, lead to some hilarious antics, beginning at the very top of the show with a marauding ‘dragon’ that was clearly cobbled together at the last minute backstage (no spoilers here, you’ve got to see it to believe it)…
… So has it been a while since you’ve seen good singing? Has it been a while since you’ve seen some good Mozart? Has it been a while since you’ve had a good laugh? Well, the answer to everything that ails you, everything you miss, can be found here at the In Series production of The Magic Flute.
Alexander C. Kafka, DC Theatre Scene
… Director Rick Davis pokes fun at the production’s generally modest resources, even as he and producing artistic director Carla Hubner invest in the elements that matter most: an exceptional cast and chamber orchestra led by music director Stanley Thurston; grand gowns, dresses, capes, and headpieces by costumer Donna Breslin; and lushly painted sets of forest and temple by Jonathan Dahm Robertson. Davis paces the complicated plot unfussily, and sets up his winking approach to minimal props and effects with a wacky frame story about a Works Progress Administration cast, during the Depression, that’s ready to put on Verdi’s Il Trovatore but has to switch to The Magic Flute at the last minute…
…In The Magic Flute, liars are chastened and the truth celebrated. So here’s the truth: Even if a lot of opera is too stuffy or portentous for you, you’ll likely enjoy this highly professional but irreverently accessible production.
Roger Catlin, Broadway World / Washington DC
…The locale for its current production of Mozart's "The Magic Flute" is a big part of its appeal: The little seen, marble Art Deco auditorium of the D.C. Scottish Rite Temple, a work of historical and architectural significance that hardly ever opens to the public for cultural events.
The site was such an inspiration for director Rick Davis, that he tacked on a prequel to the work involving a group of Depression-era actors performing in the Works Progress Administration's Federal Music Project, thinking they are performing a different opera altogether - Verdi's "Il Trovatore" before they're clued into the Mozart.
director -- Fatal Song, or the Great Opera Murders • by Kathleen Cahill • Music by Mozart, Donizetti, Verdi, Puccini, Bernstein. • The IN Series, Source Theatre, DC, 2014
director -- Can't Scare Me, the Story of Mother Jones • by Kaiulani Lee • Theater of the First Amendment, Atlas Performing Arts Center, DC, 2011.
librettist -- The Songbird and the Eagle • oratorio • Kim D. Sherman, composer • San José Chamber Orchestra & The Choral Project. 2006, 2014
essay -- Plays by Women: One Theater's Story • HowlRound, 2014 • Reflections on Theater of the First Amendment's body of work in light of the current discussion of gender parity in the American theater.
host -- Studio A, a film and video colloquium on GMU-TV and Vimeo. From 2007 through 2015 I had the pleasure of interviewing more than sixty film, media, and video professionals in a 30-minute live-to-tape format. The show supported student learning in the Film and Video Studies program by offering students roles as researchers and assistant producers, as well as the chance to interact with guests both on and off air. Studio A has been honored with Davey, Gracie, and Telly awards.