Wiedmeyer (Antonia) and John Kaneklides (Hoffmann)
in Skylight Music Theatre’s production of “The
Tales of Hoffmann” in association with the
Milwaukee Opera Theatre at the Cabot Theatre
- Under the masterful touch of Skylight Music Theatre
director Jill Anna Ponasik and a score of creative
musical artists and talented artisans, “The Tales of
Hoffmann” opens with a sassy series of announcements
sung by Jean Broekhuizen.
we can sense that a musical masterpiece is in store with
a sumptuous set design (Lisa Anne Schlenker),
breathtaking costumes (Sonya Berlovitz) and clever
choreography (James Zager). As described by the composer
himself, E.T.A. Hoffmann calls it, “A mix of music,
movement and mayhem.” Sadly, his death preceded its
is a series of tales about unrequited or lost loves and
how often these painful experiences give birth to art.
(Think of how many songs recount this incomparable
ache.) The poet Hoffmann is experiencing writer’s
block and as suggested by his muse, Nicklausse, sassily
portrayed by Diane Lane, he turns to three of his past
amorous ordeals to afford inspiration.
play with fantastic vocals is structured into three
separate acts with an intermission between each dire
there’s Olympia, the beautiful mechanical doll, whom
the clever inventor Spalanzani has crafted. Hoffman
falls hard for her before he discovers that she’s not
real. Cecilia Davis aces the role. Her flexible, soaring
voice coupled with her robotic physicality and dart-like
staccato musical delivery is mesmerizing.
second disaster comes in the form of a sickly young
woman with an overprotective father. The beautiful
doomed Antonia (Susan Wiedmeyer) dies before she is able
to elope with Hoffman, but not before she delivers a
gorgeous duet with her dead mother (Carol Greif) whom
she soon joins.
third unconsummated amorous calamity involves the
attractive sorceress Giulietta, a self-centered,
avaricious woman. The attractive Ariana Douglas looks
the part and has a glorious voice to match.
a throng of stars, John Kaneklides, with his luscious
tenor and forlorn appearance, resurrects Hoffmann with
his magnetic power and beautiful, rich tones.
minimal but all-encompassing orchestration (two pianos,
a harp and a plethora of percussive instruments) is
displayed on stage, very much in synch with all the
action and the music. Kerry Bieneman, Rebecca Royce,
Josh Robinson and Michael “Ding” Lorenz deliver
clever touches of humor were provided by Brett Sweeney
in his cameo roles.
miss this incomparable display of talent and ingenuity.
The delicate “Barcarolle,” an unforgettable melody,
is sensitively rendered by the whole ensemble. Thanks to
Jacques Offenbach, the composer who completed
Hoffmann’s uncompleted masterpiece.
“Tales of Hoffmann”
The musical runs through March 29 in the Cabot Hall in
the Broadway Theatre Center, 108 N. Broadway, Milwaukee.
Call 414-291-7800 or visit