The Stranger From Seville
Florida Festival of New Musicals
Book & Lyrics by Victor Kazan
Music by Kevin Purcell
Directed by George Colangelo
Musical Direction by Shane French
Directed by Roy Alan
Musical Direction by Ross Martin
Starring Zack Nadolski, Ashley Rodreguiz, and Tommy Paduano
Winter Park Playhouse
These comments are based on a developmental reading. The final script may be significantly different.
Opera maintains its charms even as we lose our ability to understand Italian. Conveniently, this story is set in English even as it takes us back 100 years to the Yucatan, a remote land of colorful birds, starving peasants and tough Spanish landowners bent on supplying the United States with all the rope it needs. Diego Clemente (Nadolski) arrives to document the colorful local bird life, and he soon meets the fiery and beautiful Sofia (Rodrigues). Spanish custom only allows single women outside under strict terms, none of which allow a girl to go sketch wildlife with a wild young man. And she has another suitor, the intimidating Carlos (Paduano). He may look thuggish, but he can belt opera with the best of them. Who gets the girl? We can only guess; this festival teases us with only the first half of the show.
Not all the songs pop here; but the best is the operatic number Carlos sings in the book store. And there’s a mass of side story here: Dr. Nelson (Dave Thome) arrives to sketch local birds and attempt to free the aviary of evil Don Victor Blanco (Dustin Cunningham). Then there’s that worker’s revolt brewing led by the lowly Rosita (Gabriella Saramago). There’s even a colorful comic relief role here; Brandon Martin sparkles as “Very Useful.” He’s the factotum and commentator on the obvious, and his parents believed your name is your destiny. They think small, they could have easily baptized him “Big Boss.” There’s promise here but some pruning might help focus the storyon the love triangle, that’s the “A” story we all cared about.