THEATER REVIEW: “Presto Change-O” @ Barrington Stage Co. [Berkshire On Stage]

May 31st, 2016, 1:00 pm by Greg
Presto Change-O stars (clockwise from bottom) Lenny Wolpe, Barbara Walsh, Michael Rupert, Bob Walton, Jenni Barber and Jarrod Spector.

“Presto Change-O” stars (clockwise from bottom) Lenny Wolpe, Barbara Walsh, Michael Rupert, Bob Walton, Jenni Barber and Jarrod Spector.

Review by Larry Murray

Many of the tools used by magicians are drawn from the theater. Things like lighting, fog, scrims and mirrors are found in both forms of entertainment. Presto Change-O, now having its world premiere performances at Barrington Stage Company in Pittsfield has plenty of magic onstage, in a series of illusions created by Joseph Wartnerchaney and a cast that has obviously practiced their prestidigitations for hours to become proficient in such sleight of hand tricks as the classic cups and balls.

But Presto Change-O is first and foremost a different sort of musical drama with book and lyrics by Eric Price and music by Joel Waggoner. A company of six actors and five musicians put on a hell of a show that can be enjoyed on a number of levels and across a wide range of ages. The plot is, of course, a bit contrived in order to give everyone a chance to show off their magic tricks, and the songs give each of the actors their own moment in the spotlight. The title song “Presto Change-O” as sung with passion by Barbara Walsh as Mary is perhaps the best of the lot, though the quartets and quintets were also a marvel to see and hear as melody lines were tossed back and forth like a frisbee.

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