Maryland Shakespeare Festival in conjunction with the OMBELLICO Mask Ensemble brought something different to the Frederick Cultural Center. Dead Man’s Mambo is billed part Commedia dell’Arte and part clown. The results are an interactive, comedic, entertaining time at the theatre complete with live music.
The story line is the cast of the play is missing and the stage manager has to play 11 different characters with only help from a mute musician. It was written by the Maryland Shakespeare Festival’s own Artistic Director John Bellomo and Brendon Gawel who directs the play. Bellomo is also the star of the show. John states the cast is stuck in traffic heading down from Philadelphia.
Bellemo is entertaining playing all the roles. The production has a lot of interaction with the audience. In the beginning he has a little question-and answer-segment which shows off John’s ability to improvise as the questions change with each show. He also uses the audience to hold hats, water bottles, and masks. If I would have sat in the front row I might have been part of the show!
John uses all kinds of masks and props throughout the show. Everything from coat racks, head busts, scarves, capes, swords and more. Stage Manager Alyssa Cole made sure he had all the props he needed. One of the show’s biggest highlights is the sword fight where John ended up juggling swords. Throughout the show he was juggling props, the characters and their assorted lovers. Insuring along the way the audience had their fill of laughs.
Andrew Clotworthy is entertaining as the mute musician. He did break from his muteness during the shows musical interludes. Andrew garnered applause and laughs with his multiple and somewhat random bows to the audience. He showed his multi-instrumental talents as a musician playing the keyboard, guitar, and drums during the show. He was also brilliant with his comedic timing while playing the music.
Set Designer Stephen Hungerford uses a simple set giving Bellomo plenty of room to work. A simple tower with a window was used when John was portraying Isabella. Amy Chmielewski was the costume designer who has worked with the Center City Opera Theater, the Ombelico Mask Ensemble, and several other theatre groups in the Philadelphia area. She only had to make two costumes for Dead Man’s Mambo but she did a wonderful job. The off-white costumes looked like authentic 16th century Italian costumes.
Dead Man’s Mambo is perfect if you are looking for a theatre experience which is a little different yet very entertaining. It’s a fast paced production. The show will make you laugh and you will leave happy.
Running Time: Approximately 90 minutes with no intermission.
Dead Man’s Mambo plays its final performance today, January 29, 2012, at The Cultural Arts Center – 15 West Patrick Street, in Frederick, Maryland. For tickets call (301) 668-4090, or purchase them online.