Review “The Ring Cycle”:The Ring IS A Prize!
The Building Stage presents
The Ring Cycle
At 412 N. Carpenter
Adapted from the operas of Richard Wagner
Directed by Blake Montgomery and Joanie Schultz
Saturdays and Sundays thru March 14th
Special Monday performance on February 22nd
Running Time: Six hours includes two ten minute intermissions and a forty-five minute dinner break
Four operas, four nights, 15+ hours, sung in German with projected English subtitles, the traditional production of The Ring Cycle in an opera house is the original dramatic television mini-series. One opera, one day, 6 hours, spoken in English with rock music accompaniment, The Building Stage’s The Ring Cycle on stage is a Netflix marathon in high-def. It took over twenty-five years for Richard Wagner to complete his Der Ring des Nibelungen, a collection of four operas: Das Rheingold, Die Walküre, Siegfried and Götterdämmerung. It’s the story of a ring with special powers. The ring is stolen, bartered, pledged and eventually returned. It’s what happens in between when gods and mortals and creatures compete for power. Greed and lust lead to dwarves gone bad, giants killing kin, a brother marrying his sister and gods cursing abuses. With the combined genius of the creative team at The Building Stage, this world premiere of The Ring Cycle is a concise, visual explosion of entertainment.
Perhaps, it’s the pending Oscars but there are so many people I need to thank for having received this experience.
First, to co-directors Blake Montgomery and Joanie Schultz and dramaturg Stephen Raskauskas for having paced this epic tale into manageable nuggets. Not only are the intermissions and dinner break perfectly timed between the four sagas, the material itself has been condensed and made succinct. I’m a fan of opera. I’ve seen Der Ring des Nibelungen performed at the Lyric Opera. But it wasn’t until yesterday, I completely got it. One of my favorite moments is the brief recap after the dinner break. Outstanding! Thank you!
Next, the phenomenally energetic cast, without your talents there wouldn’t be a show. Sarah Scanlon, Lindsey Dorcus, and Lucy Carapetyan as the Rhein sisters and woodbirds: your ribbon dancing and singing are beautifully whimsical. I don’t know how you do it… especially singing and talking suspended upside down. Amazing! Mandy Walsh (no relation), Darci Nalepa, Daiva Bhandari: Wagner wrote strong female roles. You backed them up with robust and sometimes sassy performances. Brava! Wm. Bullion, Chris Pomeroy, Nick Vidal, Pat King: for finding the humanity and humor in the lengthy orations, thank you! Special nod out to Bill O’Connor as Mime: your mind dual with yourself was hysterical!
And the production team and their crews, wow! Lee Keenan, Meghan Raham, Chantal Calato and ETC: all the elements were there fire, water, air, and dragon! Trap doors, special lighting, projections, puppets, the creative deliberation paid off with fantastic imagery. You had the dragon head and
the tail. Who does that? The costumes were a wonderful balance of contemporary deity, underworld severity and playful whimsy. The attention to detail with uniform headgear was an incredible asset in the storytelling.
And the band under the direction of music composer Kevin O’Donnell, sunken into the stage and ever present to the action, you rock!
Big shout out to stage manager, Lindsey Miller. The flawless coordination of the multiple cast, costume changes and cues over the duration must have been exhausting!
I know I’m forgetting many people who backed this production with blood, sweat and money. So a big combined “Kudos” to all connected. Your journey to secure The Ring will be enjoyed by generations to come. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to experience your vision!
Having packed Twizzlers for the long haul, M-Vo describes The Ring Cycle as “well-executed, thorough, engaging.”
WAITING FOR THE SHOW
The Ring Cycle needs to be approached like a marathon. To go the distance, be prepared! Arrive early, there is no reserved seating. Immediately secure your seats with coats but don’t sit down yet. Walk around the lobby area, take in the literature, use the bathroom and hydrate! Repeat this ritual during the two ten minute intermissions. For dinner, there is a 45 minute break and you have some options. 1). Preorder (and that doesn’t mean during the show’s bathroom break) a boxed dinner from The Building Stage. Bari Italian Foods is serving up deli sandwiches on crusty bread with your choice of sides. 2). Buy snacks from the concession area on the day of the performance or 3). Bring your own dinner (and wine if you like). If you brought a picnic lunch, stow it in the storage area by the bathrooms. There is absolutely no extra room in the theatre aisles. During the dinner break, it’s a gods and mortals mingling moment! The cast and audience lay out blankets across the stage and coexist in a communal fourth wall destruction. The entire day is a theatrical experience reminiscent of simpler times. It’s a commitment to block out distractions and be off the grid for six hours for the sake of art enjoyment! It’s worth the effort! Go and don’t forget to hydrate!
The Ring Cycle production pictures by Michael Brosilow.