Theatre Review: Amazing Amadeus

Share |
(Sacramento, CA)
Monday, February 6, 2006

A lot of people underestimate “Amadeus,” and curiously, this is mostly because of a lack of familiarity. I’m not talking about the movie, which was visually opulent, if a tad simplified.

No, I’m talking about Peter Shaffer’s play, which is wickedly ironic, occasionally rude, and several degrees smarter and more challenging than the film.  It won a slew of awards when it premiered in London in 1979, and a bunch more when it moved to New York two years later. But there’s an excellent chance that you’ve never experienced Shaffer’s play, unless you’ve seen it out of town. Believe it or not, the current production by the Sacramento Theatre Company is the first time that “Amadeus” has been professionally staged here.

So it’s my job to tell you that you’ve been missing something good, something that you may be taking for granted because you saw the movie 20 years ago.

Don’t make that mistake. Go see this show to enjoy actor Matt K. Miller as Salieri. Miller’s strong suit is sardonic comedy, but in this show he displays an ability to be intensely funny and darkly, desperately angry at the same time. And watch Derek Manson as Mozart -- he gives a highly energized, powerhouse performance. Incidentally, one group that initially underestimated this play was the Sacramento Theatre Company itself. They decided to postpone the opening of “Amadeus” by a week, in order refine the play’s numerous verbal and technical complexities. This probably wasn’t an easy decision, but it was a smart one, because this handsome production feels like a well-finished piece of work. 

“Amadeus” is at the Sacramento Theatre Company through March 5.