Page 20 THE VILLADOM TIMES I & III • March 18, 2009 Trading the stage for the classroom by Dennis Seuling “Master Class,” the current production at Millburn’s Paper Mill Playhouse, is a drama about the nuances of performance, the depth of emotion an artist must feel, the love affair between artist and audience, and the toll artistic greatness takes. Author Terrence McNally bases his play on a series of master classes the great operatic soprano Maria Callas gave at Juilliard in 1971, coming out of retirement to do so. Callas (Barbara Walsh) enters the concert hall with a flourish to begin her first class, hearing and critiquing talented students hoping to become successful opera singers. Though she claims the class is all about her students, she cannot help but make references to her past glory, professional competition, struggles to build a career, and highly publicized romances. Callas’ method is unconventional. She focuses on posture, a look, making an entrance, learning the source material, understanding the composer’s intentions, and spends little time commenting on the magnificent voices of the students. Walsh has the tough task of carrying almost all of Act I. She lets the audience into the heart and soul of Callas, showing what made her unique in the world of opera. Yes, the voice was great, but she brought much more to her performances - everything, as she states, which perhaps accounts for her relatively short performing career. Dressed in 1970s-style flowing black pants, knee-length sweater-coat, and owleyed glasses, Walsh’s Callas is imposing from her first entrance, striding onstage and addressing the audience as if it is her master class. She sets the rules and the expectations. Like most people not trained as teachers, Callas frequently goes off topic, is easily distracted, is brutally critical, and does not spend time motivating her students. Her presence, she feels, is motivation enough. Her legendary career should inspire the budding opera stars to rise to excellence. Yet her approach is eminently watchable and intriguing. The set is spare: Steinway grand piano at stage right, a high director’s chair, and a small table at stage left. The backdrop is paneling, the kind seen in a concert hall. Manny (Andrew Gerle) is the onstage accompanist, a shy fellow, clearly in awe and somewhat frightened by the teacher’s flamboyance. Occasionally, a stagehand (Ryan King) appears to bring in items Callas demands. The three students vary in style. Sophie (Lauren Worsham) is very shy, almost introverted and Callas promptly observes she lacks a distinctive “look.” Tony (Mike McGowan) is a confident, handsome tenor who knows his strengths, knows he will make it in the opera world, and refuses to be intimidated by Callas. Sharon (Sarah Uriarte Berry), the most Barbara Walsh stars as operatic diva Maria Callas in the Paper Mill Playhouse production, ‘Master Class.’ complex of the three, is the one in whom Callas recognizes many of her own qualities, and it is this student with whom the teacher is most attentive. Periodically, director Wendy C. Goldberg places Walsh in a special light, removing her from the immediate action as she reminisces about hardships she has endured, love affairs gone bad, and the public’s image of her. These scenes are effective in humanizing Callas and making her far more than an amusing eccentric. “Master Class,” which will run through April 5, is a strong play necessitating a Anthony Francos Ristorante & Pizzeria s from Acros ovie the M er Theat Pizza • Pasta Chicken • Veal Seafood Salads• Appetizers Hot & Cold Sandwiches FREE DELIVERY TO ALL LOCAL AREAS (Ample on-site parking) • Open 7 Days • Major Credit Cards Accepted • Full Menu at 128 E. Main St. • Ramsey • 201-236-8000 St. Patrick’s Day at Kirkers  Tuesday March 17 th  ������� ��������� ��������� Randy Brecker, a five-time Grammy Award winner who has been shaping the sound of jazz, R&B and rock for more than four decades, will perform with the William Paterson University Jazz Orchestra, directed by David Demsey, for the final concert of the spring 2009 Jazz Room Series on Sunday, April 19. The concert will begin at 4 p.m. in the Shea Center for Performing Arts on the University’s campus in Wayne. Prior to the concert, Brecker and other concert performers will be the guests for “Sittin’ In,” an informal discussion about jazz, at 3 p.m. in room 101 of Shea Center. Admission is Randy Brecker to wind up Jazz Room Series strong lead, which Walsh provides. The icing on the cake is the magnificent voices of Worsham, Berry, and King. When they sing, they come alive, blossoming on stage. The rough edges of performance and style fall by the wayside as their superb voices soar. “Master Class” will be performed Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m., Thursdays at 2 and 7:30 p.m., Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 2 and 8 p.m., and Sundays at 2 and 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $25 to $92 and may be ordered online at or by calling (973) 376-4343. free to all Jazz Room ticketholders. Tickets are available in advance or on the day of the performance at $15 standard; $12 senior citizens, William Paterson faculty, staff and alumni; and $8 for non-William Paterson students. William Paterson students may attend free of charge. For tickets or information, call the Shea Center for Performing Arts Box Office at (973) 720-2371 or visit the Web at www. Funding for The Jazz Room at William Paterson University has been made possible, in part, by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State. Served with Soup or Salad Irish Soda Bread Lunch (12-3): $9.95 Dinner: $12.95 • All Major Credit Cards Accepted • Open Mon - Sat • Noon til 11:30 pm KIRKERS • 237 Diamond Bridge Ave, Hawthorne, NJ Reservations Call: 973-427-7700