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Russian Rhapsody Redux


When Al Jolson said, "You ain't heard nothin' yet," in The Jazz Singer (1927), it meant silent movies had learned how to talk. Decades later, composer Polly Pen and lyricist Laurence Klavan have taken a silent movie from the same year, Abram Room's Soviet curio Bed and Sofa, and taught it how to sing. Emotions that once were implied by gestures and rolls of the eye now course through solos, duets and trios in a pocket opera. This time out a thousand words beat the picture. It's the current triumph at Ithaca's Kitchen Theatre Company.A construction assignment sends Kolya to distant Rostov for three weeks, at which [Volodya] offers to find digs elsewhere. Generously, Kolya won't hear of it because his wife is crazy about him, he coos, and adds that he's so fond of her. We have noticed, as Koyla did not, that [Ludmilla] had been warming to Volodya for weeks, and as soon as the old man is gone, the two make their moves, hers a little more assertive than his. Now they're on the bed, and the sofa is empty.Both male singers are widely experienced, and baritone [David Neal] is on SUNY Cortland's performing arts faculty. Tenor [Patrick Oliver Jones] enjoys extensive national credits, including a stint as Carrasco in last fall's Man of La Mancha at Auburn's Merry-Go-Round Playhouse. Music director Richard Montgomery provides all accompaniment at the keyboard, the art that conceals art.

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