by Terrance McNally The Tony Award winning Best Play from 1996 opens the third season at Good Theater. Set during a master class, this humorous and dramatic work gives audiences a glimpse of the real Maria Callas, the greatest opera singer of her generation. Lisa Stathopolos takes on the demanding role of Maria Callas that won Zoe Caldwell a Tony Award for Leading Actress in a Play. Other actresses to receive acclaim for portraying Callas include Patti LuPone, Dixie Carter and Faye Dunaway. Stathopolos is joined on stage by Aaron Robinson as Manny, the pianist, and Jennifer McLeod, Richard Gammon and Kelly Caufield portray Maria’s three students. Master Class isn’t just for opera fans!
STATHOPLOS BREATHES FIRE INTO CALLAS ROLE
Portland Press Herald,
By Mary Snell
"The Good Theater has opened its season at the St. Lawrence Arts Center with Terrence McNally's Tony Award winning play, "Master Class," which is based on the life of Maria Callas.
"Master Class" is directed with the classy touch of artistic director, Brian Allen. His first smart move was to cast the veteran Maine actor, Lisa Stathoplos, in the leading role. Being Greek-American she has the dark elegant features and flair of her character. But it's more than that. She exhibits the fire, the emotion, and the particularity of Callas. And Stathoplos must perform at three levels - as Callas; as Callas performing as Callas when she demonstrates for her students; and as younger Callas and others from her past in several memory scenes. Brava.
Another outstanding aspect of the show is the quality of the other performers, who appear as the hapless students and pianist. Kelly Caufield wows with her singing in the meatiest role of the high-strung soprano, Sharon; Aaron Robinson is comfortable in the role of accompanist as well as performs beautifully; Richard Gammon is terrific as the tenor, Tony; and Jennifer McLeod as the innocent Sophie is the most successful in communicating her frustration through her admiration for the this cruel yet truthful teacher. Chris Handy is fine in the tiny role of the stagehand.
The St. Lawrence Arts Center has an improved look, thanks to work done this summer. Scenic designer Janet Montgomery has worked with the color scheme of the theater to create an elegant setting for the "Master Class" - all maroon and black. The action takes place in front of the gorgeous satin stage curtains. Lighting designer Jamie Grant washes the stage with clear even light during the teaching sessions, and pulls our focus to Callas during the darker memory scenes. Joan McMahon has created a range of looks with her costumes that aptly reflect the characters - whether it's the class of Callas or the frou-frou of Sophie.
If you know anything about Callas or singing, go see this play. If you don't know anything about either, go see this play!"
by Scott Andrews
"Portland's Good Theater opened its 2004-2005 season last week with a riveting professional performance of "Master Class," led by Maine actress Lisa Stathoplos delivering a bravura performance as the celebrated soprano who rocked the staid operatic world for two decades. Lisa deserved her standing ovation - the sort of reception that was the norm during Callas' heyday."
THE PORTLAND PHOENIX
by Megan Grumbing
"Of Greek heritage and no less than a master herself, veteran actor Stathoplos doesn't seem to act the great soprano so much as actually inhabit her. She conveys a complexity in the diva's vainglory, gifts, and weaknesses that stand up to a two-hour close inspection, during which we rarely look away from her."
Directed by Brian P. Allen
Maria Callas - Lisa Stathoplos
Manny - Aaron Robinson
Sophie - Jennifer McLeod
Tony - Richard Gammon
Sharon - Kelly Caufield
Stage Hand - Chris Handy
Stage Manager - Karen Dunton
Set Design - Janet Montgomery
Lighting Design - Jamie Grant
Costumes - Joan McMahon
Technical Director - Stephen Underwood
Assistant Technical Director - Craig Robinson
* Member Actors' Equity Association