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Pennington Players Present Intimate Portrait of Maria Callas in “Master Class” at MCCC’s Kelsey Theatre Feb. 21 to March 2

Laurie Hardy, right, as Maria Callas, with Eileen S. Cooper as pupil Sharon Graham, and Andrew Monath as accompanist Manny Weinstock. Photo by John Maurer.
Laurie Hardy, right, as Maria Callas, with Eileen S. Cooper as pupil Sharon Graham, and Andrew Monath as accompanist Manny Weinstock. Photo by John Maurer.

Opera great Maria Callas is presented in all her temperamental glory when The Pennington Players present “Master Class” at Mercer County Community College’s Kelsey Theatre Fridays, Feb. 21 and 28 at 8 p.m.; Saturdays, Feb. 22 and March 1 at 8 p.m.; and Sundays, Feb. 23 and March 2 at 2 p.m.  Kelsey Theatre is located on the college’s West Windsor Campus, 1200 Old Trenton Road.  A reception with the cast and crew follows the opening night performance on Feb. 21.

Inspired by a series of master classes the singer conducted towards the end of her career, this Tony Award-winning play by Terrence McNally captures Callas as she challenges the next generation of singers to reach for the heights she herself has achieved.  This somewhat fictionalized account of La Divina, as she became known, gives Callas a chance to meditate on the relationship between art and life, and to wonder when the pursuit of one's art becomes self-destructive.  Some of her revelations are deeply personal, including her relationship with Aristotle Onassis.  Portrayed in all her imperfect glory, Callas is at times wickedly funny, unrelentingly critical and highly emotional. 

An American Sign Language (ASL)-interpreted performance for the deaf, hard of hearing, and ASL community will be presented on Sunday, Feb. 23 at 2 p.m.  Interpreters are Allwyn Baskin and Lisette Weiland.  On Feb. 28, audience members are invited to a 30-minute “Talk Back” session following the performance to discuss the production with the cast and crew.

Leading the cast as Maria Callas is Laurie Hardy of Hamilton.  Featured as students in the master class are soprano Jenne Carey, of Princeton, as Sophie DePalma; soprano Eileen Cooper, of Hamilton, as Sharon Graham; and tenor Timothy Walton, of Plainsboro, as Anthony Candolino.  These three classically trained opera singers will all sing arias: Carey will perform Bellini’s “Ah Non Credea”; Cooper will perform Verdi’s “Vieni t’affretta”; and Walton will perform Puccini’s “Recondita Armonia.”  Andrew Monath of New Hope, Pa., plays the on-stage accompanist Manny Weinstock.   

The production is produced by Sally Page of Princeton.  Stage Manager Tara Gruber Etter of Hamilton will also appear on stage as the stagehand. 

Tickets are $18 for adults, $16 for seniors, and $14 for students and children.  Tickets are available online at www.kelseytheatre.net or by calling the Kelsey Theatre Box Office at 609-570-3333.  Kelsey Theatre is wheelchair accessible, with free parking available next to the theater.

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