Review: "Cleveland Orchestra bears musical fruit in 'The Good Peaches' theater collaboration"

Cleveland Orchestra associate conductor Brett Mitchell (pictured here in a dress rehearsal) presided over performances of works by Britten and Adams that formed the musical backbone of "The Good Peaches," a new play by Quiara Alegría Hudes premiered last week by Cleveland Play House. (Photo by Roger Mastroianni)

Cleveland Orchestra associate conductor Brett Mitchell (pictured here in a dress rehearsal) presided over performances of works by Britten and Adams that formed the musical backbone of "The Good Peaches," a new play by Quiara Alegría Hudes premiered last week by Cleveland Play House. (Photo by Roger Mastroianni)

The Plain Dealer (Cleveland) has published a review of The Cleveland Orchestra and Cleveland Play House's recent world-premiere collaboration, The Good Peaches:

One little-recognized truth about the Cleveland Orchestra: any subset boasts the quality and cohesion of the full group.

Case in point: on stage in "The Good Peaches," a new play-with-music by Quiara Alegría Hudes premiered last week with the Cleveland Play House, the half-size orchestra under Brett Mitchell held its own beautifully.

The performances themselves were beyond reproach. Indeed, Friday night at the Allen Theatre, the orchestra did more than accompany the production. Responsible for more than half the show's total length, it supported and nearly carried the show.

Three of [Benjamin] Britten's "Four Sea Interludes" and [John] Adams' "Shaker Loops" handily encapsulated the storm and electric aftermath at the core of "Peaches," a fairy tale-like coming-of-age story.

The music, played in alternation with the acting, was highly effective, especially as shaped by Mitchell. Involved in the project from its beginning, the orchestra's associate conductor displayed nothing but a keen ear for drama and a solid grasp on what elements of the scores best applied.

[The orchestra] had no trouble conjuring the organic glory of Britten's "Dawn" or the sea in both calm and tumultuous states. After Aurora, the play's protagonist, rode the waves that destroyed her world, the orchestra painted pictures even more vivid in the mind's eye.

No less significant were the contributions made by Adams and the orchestra in "Shaker Loops." Almost everything that makes the 1978 minimalist masterpiece great also served to benefit "Peaches."

The anticipatory tension, shimmering surface, and swelling momentum in the music, deftly rendered by Mitchell and the orchestra, exactly mirrored Aurora's initial confusion about her situation and gradual development of an independent spirit. The two works even shared a sense of the profound, a basic grounding in timeless wisdom.

To read the complete review, please click here. To read the theatrical review from The Plain Dealer, please click here. To read a review in the Akron Beacon Journal, please click here.