Old Wicked Songs, Colony Theatre

Theater review: 'Old Wicked Songs' at the Colony Theatre

If your heart is in despair, there is no better place to explore the sadness and the joy than music, significantly Schumann’s Dichterliebe. The German Romantic period was a time of poets and the glory of private thoughts, of the exploration of the lyrical in mankind – a period that inspired the Song Cycle, wedding great poetry with music.

Marans play is a great ode to music and the raw despair in the inequities of humanity. Marans deftly ignites a depth of emotion through an unorthodox relationship between a music coach and a burnt-out protogé pianist in need of settling deep-seated sadness by re-experiencing music.

Plays are miraculous things. The best, for me, are small and intimate, like an art song.

The grand piano in Mashkan’s rehearsal studio, a sumptuous and gorgeous set by Stephen Gifford, is essentially a third character. Both actors play it beautifully. Marans has woven his knowledge about, and passion for, Robert Schumann’s song cycle “Dichterliebe” — and for music in general — into the story with unusual grace, informing without ever seeming to lecture, and director Stephanie Vlahos guides the remarkably natural performances with a light hand. 

LA Times, CULTURE MONSTER, Margaret Gray


The Colony’s director, Stephanie Vlahos, is a former professional opera singer herself, and her knowledge of the interplay between teacher and student is probably more authentic than you’ll encounter in most revivals of Marans’ work. She has found two actors in Towey and Danz who convincingly play and sing their own music without relying on recordings — and they are no less convincing in their spoken dialogue.  This is a remarkable revival of a play that appears to be close to achieving classic stature.

LA Times, Don Shirley