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A CurtainUp Berkshire Review
By Elyse Sommer
Ludwig Live! is a sure-fire title to lure this area's many classical music loving audiences away from Tanglewood long enough to enjoy a cabaret experience that seems custom-made for them. Nancy Holson, whose The News in Revue > has been a hit in the Berkshires and throughout the country and Emmy Award winning TV specials, certainly has the credentials to make the conceit of a cabaret about Beethoven work. Unfortunately, trying to incorporate elements of The News in Revue's topical satire into Ludwig Live! is too much of a stretch. The ties to the established hit are not a comfortable fit and end up making Ludwig Live! top-heavy with sophomoric shtick.
It isn't until well into the first act, when Percevich assumes her role as Papa Haydn, that Ludwig's vaudevillian saga starts to actually come alive. But what is gained from the roller coaster impersonations, greatly enhanced the wigs and costumes (the former designed by Percevich herself, the latter by Ramsey Scott), loses steam with two misconceived gimmicks for the beginning of the second act.
Gimmick #1 is a medley of songs ("Welcome to the Berkshires") delivered by co-innkeeper Robin Gerson Wong. She's a charmer and sings quite well but this ode to the Berkshires and thinly disguised ad for the Inn that she and her husband Denis Wong have admirably brought back to its original Gilded Cottage splendor. The trouble is that this number has no connection whatever to the show. Maybe Ms. Wong could expand this misplaced number into a cabaret of her own for the one night Ludwig Live! isn't on.
Gimmick #2, and this one is even more of a misfit, is an audience participation number that's lame and forced and not even fitfully funny. But hold on. These missteps are followed by a really terrific segment that illustrates what this cabaret could be with a little more work. That's when Lindberg and the talented Pecevich take us on a whirlwind tour of 200 years of musical history (" Music Through the Last 200 Years: a Retrospective"). Taking away those two unnecessary second act gimmicks, would streamline the present show's two hours to clock in at no more than 80 minutes without an intermission, would improve the overall tempo and give Ludwig Live! a better chance to make the most of everyone's talents. The audience could enjoy the goodies from Chocolate Springs after the show instead of before it opens and during intermission. (The chocolate mousse cake is delicious— but the refreshments are not included in the price of admission).
Book of Mormon -CD
Our review of the show
Slings & Arrows-the complete set
You don't have to be a Shakespeare aficionado to love all 21 episodes of this hilarious and moving Canadian TV series about a fictional Shakespeare Company