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Maarten Cornelis

A 2021 Five Best List

December 26, 2021

In the past, my annual wrap up excluded Broadway but this year Broadway presented the bulk of the year’s outstanding works. [more]

Little Christmas Miracles

December 12, 2021

Ideally, the good-natured play with music, "Little Christmas Miracles" would perform only at matinees before an audience mostly of eager children rather than seasoned theatergoers. [more]

Swan Lake Rock Opera

November 5, 2021

Now there’s "Swan Lake Rock Opera" created by Mirit Shem-Ur (book and lyrics), Tsedi Sarfati (director and dramaturge) and Sharona Pick (music production and additional music).  The show uses orchestral themes from the original Tchaikovsky score and clever pop variations to create witty songs and underscoring. The libretto of "Rock Opera" follows the original Swan Lake plot points which tell of Young Prince Siegfried, ordered by his mother the Queen to choose a fiancée from a list of foreign princesses she has assembled.  He goes off to hunt to avoid making a decision and meets the Swan/Woman Odette and falls in love only to be deceived by her doppelganger Odile, an agent of the evil Von Rothbart who has cast a spell that turned women into swans.  This deception leads to tragedy. [more]

Mandela

July 20, 2021

Nelson Mandela’s inestimable value to humanity in general and to the abolishment of apartheid in particular cannot be thoroughly assessed or overestimated, nor are they in a new play that bears his name. As written by Yolanda Brooks & John Ruiz Miranda, who also directs, Mandela is a meandering miasma of information. It also suffers by an utterly amateurish performance by Robert Greene in the title role. One winning asset, however, is the portrayal of Mandela’s wife, Winnie, by Nadijah Abdul Khaliq. Also to its credit is the evocative lighting design by Maarten Cornelis, which, more than merely illuminating the play, gives it a kind of life. [more]

The Importance of Being Earnestly LGBTQ+

July 15, 2021

For "The Importance of Being Earnestly LGBTQ+" which wildly lives up to its title, director Maarten Cornelis updates Wilde’s scenario to present day New York City. Currency is in dollars; Manhattan landmarks replace London ones, though the fabled cucumber sandwiches remain. Amanda Scanze’s splendorous fashionista-type costume design and Martina Duque’s artfully basic scenic and projection design are all contemporary. Mr. Cornelis places us in an affectionate fantasyland true to the spirit of Wilde where logical inconsistencies and anachronisms are to be taken in stride. Algernon Moncrieff and Jack Worthing are still upper-class charmers pretending to be named Ernest to romance their eccentric objects of desire. Instead of Cecily Cardew and Gwendolen Fairfax, here we get Cecil and Gwyn. This production’s chief virtue is its matter of fact and sensual depiction of same-sex attraction. That is achieved through Cornelis’ skillful direction, his otherworldly lighting design and his energetic ensemble. [more]

It Came from Beyond

April 27, 2018

In the mode of vibrant Broadway leading ladies of the likes of Donna Murphy is the red haired and vivacious Kaitlyn Baldwin as the home economics teacher, Ms. Benson and as Private Jayne, the assistant to the nutty colonel. Cracking wise with the precision of Eve Arden and exhibiting superior singing and dance skills, Ms. Baldwin invests herself in the material with colossal force as if she were starring in "Wonderful Town" or an edition of "Forbidden Broadway." [more]

Wicked Frozen

April 11, 2018

Zoe Farmingdale’s book is a tart and good-natured treatment of the salvation of a high school misfit. The cheery, witty and melodious score has lyrics by Ms. Farmingdale and Toby Singer and music by Mr. Singer. An ode to IKEA is particularly catchy. Mr. Singer’s successfully eclectic music is perfectly realized by his arrangements and sound design. [more]

Lili Marlene

August 19, 2017

The songs never come up to the title song made famous by Marlene Dietrich who’s mentioned several times during the play. Antin’s attempt at playful seduction, “Take Me Home Tonight,” sung by the half-dressed cabaret girls and his German-style drinking song, “Fill My Stein with Beer” are pleasant pastiche, but “How Can Germany Survive?” (sung by the beleaguered Willi) and “Time to Stand Up” (sung by Josef) are heavy-handed and obvious. The lyrics throughout, even in the love songs are of the “moon-June” variety, but, as mentioned, are sung with great feeling. [more]