In late January, Know Theatre teamed up with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra to present a show entitled Mozart!, a biographical recounting of the composer’s life, scored by some of his greatest and most recognizable works. Directed by Eric Vosmeier, the show featured Joshua Murphy (as Mozart), MJ Jurgenson (as Mozart’s sister, Nanneral, and the estimable Count Thun) and myself, Chris Wesselman (as Mozart’s father, Leopold, and his beautiful wife, Constanze.)
I’ve played some fairly big houses before. A couple hundred here, a few hundred there…but lately I’ve been (happily) confined to the intimate house of Know Theatre. I enjoy the close proximity of the house here; you can see people’s pupils and hear each breath they take. It can be rather exhilarating, but no matter how connected an audience is at a Know show, it never matches the magnitude of energy provided by a crowd of 2,000+ people.
When Eric first told me about the Mozart performance I was excited enough by the prospect of performing alongside a full orchestra, but to add on top of that the chance to be on stage at Music Hall? It was very close to a dream come true. I had attended numerous concerts and shows as Music Hall throughout my life, including several Christmas-time trips as a child to see The Nutcracker, so getting a chance to walk onto the stage and look up to the top balcony where a wee version of myself had once sat, antsy in his chair, was quite the nostalgic fulfillment.
And the acoustics! The wonderful acoustics, allowing each note of the symphony, each syllable of the script to fly out and bounce back to your ear with such a grand weight to it. I don’t think I’ve ever sounded better.
I’d spent the summer of 2010 touring with MadCap Puppet Theatre (co-producers of Know’s final show of the season, The Dragon) and had faced down my fair share of audiences populated entirely by children, but I think I may have, in this sole performance of Mozart!, doubled the amount of kids I’d performed for that entire summer. There were a lot of them. I could practically taste the boogers. And they warmly received the show, most of them eager to meet the cast afterwards and inform us what their favorite parts of the show were (and weren’t.) Children provide an entirely different sensation than adults do when performing for them. Their sense of wonder and involuntary suspense of disbelief make them theatre’s best audience, if they can only sit in their seats long enough. It’s this advantage that gives shows like Mozart!, Sideways Stories from Wayside School, and A Wrinkle in Time a special place in my heart.