Laurie Hardy stars as Maria Callas in MASTER CLASS at Pennington Players.

MASTER CLASS: Undeniably a Class Act at Pennington Players

Mut – German for courage. Only one of the many words to describe the cast of the Pennington Players as they performed a powerful performance of the Tony Award-winning play, Terrence McNally’s MASTER CLASS. Courageous. More descriptive words would be captivating, passionate, and downright talented. If there was an error made, on stage or behind the scenes, it did not show in their portrayal of the life and loves of the legendary opera diva Maria Callas.

At the show’s core, Callas, a glamorous, commanding, larger-than-life, caustic, and surprisingly hilarious educationalist is holding a voice master class. Alternately disappointed and impressed by the students who perform before her, she retreats into recollections about the glories of her own life and career. Included in her reflections are her younger years as overweight and unattractive, her hatred for her rivals and naysayers, her triumphs at La Scala, and her affair with Aristotle Onassis. She dares the students to make the same sacrifices and rise above their challenges as well.

Laurie Hardy, who has performed extensively throughout the Central New Jersey area, sets the mood with her spell-binding, poignant representation of Callas; her performance was charismatic and unforgettable. Hardy’s stature was one of beauty and poise that was truly enchanting; a born performer, if you will, and we look forward to seeing her in future shows.

Soprano Jenne Carey (Sophie DePalma), soprano Eileen Cooper (Sharon Graham), and tenor Timothy Walton (Anthony Candolino) are classically trained opera singers and all three deliver spectacular acting and vocal performances. Cooper’s performance of Verdi’s “Vieni t’affretta” was notably sung with ease and precision. Andrew Monath displayed the perfect coprophilous grin for the brown-nosing on-stage accompanist Manny Weinstock and Tara Gruber Etter bravely conquered her role as the stagehand and did it very well.

Not knowing much about the life of Callas, we left the theater wanting to learn more. The set was simple and the moods were animated with the lighting and an enjoyable background slideshow of photos of the young Callas.

Opera buff or not, theater lovers will enjoy this production. There is only one weekend left as of this review to catch this emotionally charged show. Highly recommended.

by Terrence McNally
Directed by Judi Parrish
February 21 – March 3, 2014
Talk Back Session on Friday Feb 28
The Pennington Players
Kelsey Theater at Mercer
1200 Old Trenton Road
West Windsor, NJ 08550


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Laura and Keith Clattenburg

Laura and Keith Clattenburg

Keith S. Clattenburg, adopted into a loving family at birth, started studying music/piano at the age of five. His parents, accomplished musicians, insisted on perfection and instilled those characteristics in Keith. He is a graduate of Abington High School where he won many awards for his talent on the piano and he was the PIAA State Choir accompanist in 1975 and 1976. He continued with piano lessons until 1975 when he switched to organ. Following graduation, Keith went into the United State Marine Corps and as a recruit he was in charge of the Sunday morning religious services on Parris Island. Surrounded by music growing up, Keith took a liking to the theater from a very young age, seeing everything possible from opera, plays and of course musicals. THE SOUND OF MUSIC at the Valley Forge Music Fair in King of Prussia, along with many other musicals in Philadelphia and New York piqued his interest. Keith got involved with groups in the area and started playing the piano, then blossomed to becoming resident Musical Director of King of Prussia Players. Laura T. Clattenburg has performed, stage managed, and produced for Pages to Pirouettes and the King of Prussia Players since 2007. She is an alumna of the Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts as a vocal major, was vocally trained at Settlement Music School in Germantown, and moved onto a career as a graphic artist. She is a former board member for the King of Prussia Players, where she is currently the Graphic Designer for all marketing materials and programs. Keith and Laura recently started a new venture: B Sharp Productions, a commercial theater company.

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