The Cradle Will Rock

THE CRADLE WILL ROCK

Scenic Designer: Martin T. Lopez; Costume Designer: Anya Klepikov; Lighting Designer: Brandon Stirling Baker
Lawrence Edelson, Director and Choreographer
Opera Saratoga - 2017
Photos by Gary David Gold

 
 
“The production pulled no punches. Set in Steeltown USA, lorded over by ultra-wealthy Mr. Mister, the show’s social ecosystem includes a desperate prostitute, a passionate labor organizer, a corrupt clergyman, a clueless arts patron, and much else in a story that’s a pageant with a narrative. Amid flashbacks, they all get satirical star turns in the skeletal set whose sketchy nature keeps up with Blitzstein’s swift, cinematic scene shifts. After Reverend Salvation’s big number, a glitzy dollar sign was hung up on the cross that dominated the set. In this piece about angry people, the Lawrence Edelson-directed production had no polite veneer to soften Blitzstein’s social outrage, with a cast that had the scrupulousness of opera but the theatricality of Broadway.”

- The Philadelphia Inquirer

”Some 80 years ago, The Cradle Will Rock, a blazing pro-union anti-capitalist opera written and composed by Marc Blitzstein was banned by the New York Police Department. Director Orson Welles and the entire ensemble did find a theater that night. But it says so much about this Brechtian/Weill-ish masterpiece, that today, America still stands on the cusp of censorship... It also says a lot that Opera Saratoga–an ensemble in a town which was once known as the home of Gilded Age plutocrats–should produce this opera. And produce it with all the veracity, the energy and the fun which good protests deserve... Lawrence Edelson, a kind of Wellesian talent himself, is not only Artistic Director of Opera Saratoga, but both directed and choreographed his massive cast with volition and the most muscular vigor. The ensemble of cellmates prance and dance inside their cells, they each come out to offer their hypocritical sermons. The stage is not in continuous movement, but Moll and the Druggist, a kind of sideline Greek Chorus, the jailed ensemble propelling their art and the soloists selling themselves on stage, give that energy which one supposes Welles gave to the original cast. More essential, Mr. Edelson never stoops to Camp or even anachronisms. Yes, his characters verge on the burlesque, but this was exactly where Blitzstein in his Agri-Prop opera meant it to be.”

- ConcertoNet

”The present is colliding with the past at the Little Theatre in Saratoga Springs where Opera Saratoga is offering a fascinating production of Marc Blitzstein’s “The Cradle Will Rock.” It is an achievement that breaks with custom by performing the work, which straddles the line between theater and classical, as the important opera that it is. The approach is revelatory as it transforms a work that has had a major influence on Broadway musicals into an exciting and grand musical event, as well as a presentation that offers insights about the fears and torments of those who experienced the Great Depression... Director Lawrence Edelson does the audience and the piece a favor by not adhering to traditional staging. The set by designer Martin T. Lopez creates a space that offers a multi-level playing area that permits the individual stories their own focus. Edelson finds both the comedy and the passion that exists in the material and does not depreciate the earnestness of the message... a worthy experience that is terrifyingly pertinent to the times in which we live.”

- The Saratogian

Opera Saratoga pulls out all the stops in presenting a knock-out, exceptionally rare, fully orchestrated production that hammers home the social and political upheaval of pre-World War II America. The battle between the haves and the have-nots is a never-ending war, and director Lawrence Edelson’s smart decision not to update the setting for the production only enhances the timelessness and timeliness the opera’s potency.... And throughout the opera, the humor is amplified by Edelson’s snazzy, snappy choreography.... Over the years, the legendary story of the opening night of the premiere of “The Cradle Will Rock” has come to overshadow the opera itself, but Opera Saratoga’s stellar production puts the focus back where it belongs.”

- Nippertown

”Opera Saratoga’s riveting production of Marc Blitzstein’s “The Cradle Will Rock” on Tuesday afternoon made people almost want to stand up and cheer. With timely themes like corruption, moral cowardice and the power of the rich to meddle, it proves that nothing ever changes, but sometimes the power of the people prevails... each singer proved to be not only a good actor but, under director/choreographer Lawrence Edelson, adept comics. Stage craft was at a high, imaginative level...Pacing was fast, too.”

- The Daily Gazette

”Opera Saratoga opens a brilliant staging by Lawrence Edelson of Marc Blitzstein’s The Cradle Will Rock Sunday (9 July) in Saratoga Springs. The production alone is reason enough to go. But the chance to be a part of the show’s inspiring, fascinating, distillation of American Music Theater History is something that anyone who loves either music theater or opera (or, like me both—and especially the intersection between the two) should witness... Edelson’s staging expertly counterpoints with specific choreography and stage direction a dozen orchestrational flourishes... One of Edelson’s crucial, droll grace notes is the surprise appearance on the feet of the members of the Liberty Committee of stylish red pumps that perfectly draw a line from them to the prostitute Moll, who, of course, has had the fashion sense—not to mention the integrity—to sport them from the start.”

- The Huffington Post

The monitory fable of Steeltown U.S.A., corrupted at every social level by the predations and capitalist cupidity of its boss-man, “Mister Mister,” was brought to full, sometimes fierce, sometimes tongue-in-cheek life in Lawrence Edelson’s colorful, high-energy production.... Opera Saratoga artistic and general director Lawrence Edelson directed and choreographed the production with flair. His hilarious coup de théâtre of having the corrupt Steeltown “Liberty Committee” – whited sepulchers to a man – appear at the eleventh hour in whored-up red stilettos and forming a makeshift chorus line/police lineup was both a perilously edgy meta-commentary, and a perfect correlative to Blitzstein’s originating inspiration for The Cradle Will Rock. It was no less an oracle than Bertolt Brecht who had offered Blitzstein the seminal suggestion: “Why don’t you write a piece about all kinds of prostitution – the press, the church, the courts, the arts, the whole system?”

- La Scena Musicale