Thanks to Bill Kennedy for the lovely review of the Rothschilds in Riverwalk's Ripples
The Rothschilds: Review
In her director’s note, Jane Falion touches on the enduring appeal of The Rothschilds, as “a testament to family, dignity, honor, and unflinching tenacity against all odds… [and] a story that transcends time….” Having seen her expert adaptation of this mighty musical, one might employ those same descriptors for her cast, crew, and production! With more characters than an entire season of Riverwalk black box, more musicians than a downtown “Blues on the Square” concert, and more costumes than the annual Tony Awards, this cast and crew of “more than a few” pull off a tour de force at once powerful and poignant, epic and intimate. The Rothschilds, by Sherman Yellen and Sheldon Harnick, music by Jerry Bock, tells the true tale of the remarkable rise of this international banking family, from its plebeian plantings in the Jewish ghetto of 18th century Frankfort to its patrician blossoming in the courts and capitals of 19th century Europe. Lead protagonist Mayer Rothschild is affectionately and energetically portrayed by Riverwalk regular Doak Bloss, who wins over audience hearts from the start as a humble and hardworking Jewish shopkeeper in love. By show’s end he is no less admirable as the principled patriarch and endearing entrepreneur behind Rothschild and Sons! Mayer’s loving wife, Gutele, is tenderly played by Colleen Bethea. The cornerstone on which he builds his familial and financial foundations, she gives him five sons (four in one song!), tempers his temper (though not his resolve) regarding anti-Semitism, and moderates his monetary concerns, reminding him, “We have enough. We have each other.” Joel Reynolds (Amshel), Dominic Redman (Solomon), Nic Roberts (Nathan), and Lexie Roberts (Jacob) sparkle as the young Rothschild boys, while Scott Larson, Simon Tower, Joseph Baumann, and Logan Emlet, with Danny Bethea (Kalman), shine as their elder counterparts after a transition made mid-song. While his brothers emigrate throughout Europe in search of financial advantage, Nathan heads for London to invest the family’s ever-multiplying money. He eventually woos and weds the spirited Hannah Cohen, staged by Sarah Sonnenberg. While all five brothers fight for Jewish justice abroad, their parents stay home to battle the ghetto from within. The text is “on the money” with a “wealth” of ageless aphorisms, advising:
“There is no virtue in riches. There is none in poverty either. Only in the acts of man;” revealing: “War makes money, peace makes money, but money makes money most of all;” and warning: “You think your new power can change the world. It won’t. It will only change you.”
Two thumbs up for Tom Klunzinger in his two distinct renderings of two distinguished princes (William and Metternich) — in two successive acts. He was simply “two much!” And two hands two-gether for Matt Lago, Rich Helder, and Patrick Monroe (vendors), Cameron Bethea and Scotty Arbour (urchins), and Matt Szymanski and Paul Gordon (bankers). Additional acting credit to Jeff Massey (Joseph Fouche and Herries),
Tony Zappa (Buderus), Alan Bloomfield (Blum), Lindsay Palinsky (pauper), and Mark Bethea (swing), as well as Theresa Spisak (Mrs. Kaufman), Mara Schaberg (Mrs. Segal), Laura Johnson (Mrs. Feldman), Donna Green (Mrs. Rosen), and Charlotte Rupert (Mrs. Greenberg).
On the technical end, kudos to those responsible for the set, scenery, and properties, for the sound, music, and lighting, and of course for the costuming! From the grand attire and courtly cadence of the European ballroom to the red-shifting and transcendent tension at the nightly closing of the Jewish ghetto, the atmosphere was tangible. So thanks to Larry Savoie (master builder and technician), Bob Nees and Tim Stapleton (design technicians), Tim Fox (lighting design), Ray Kurtis and Melody Teodoro-Kurtis (properties and set dressing), Dan Moore (hair design), Javier Rivera (hair assistant), Ruth Jean (clarinet), Andrew Herrbach (trumpet), Jackie Bernott (flute), and Jesse Slocum (bass). And congratulations to Jane Falion (director), Rich Helder (assistant
director), Tom Ferris (producer), Roberta Otten (choreographer), James Geer (music director and keyboards), Val Lea (stage manager), Jane Falion (again!) and her four assistants (scenic design), Mary K. Hodges-Nees and her ten technicians (costuming!), and the full stage and running crews.