Curtain Rises: Barry Glassman reflects on ‘Amadeus’ and Lehigh Valley theater roles
Barry Glassman has played iconic roles in Lehigh Valley regional theater on stage and offstage.
On stage, he’s played the nasty but redemptive soul, Scrooge, nine times in “A Christmas Carol”; Roy Cohn, the disgraced and presumably not so redemptive Atty. Roy Cohn, twice in “Angels in America”; the irascible but charming Morrie in “Tuesdays with Morrie,” and the glum but wise Norman in “On Golden Pond,” all at Civic Theatre of Allentown.
Glassman plays the evil and self-serving (as written in the script) Antonio Salieri in “Amadeus,” through Oct. 20 at Northampton Community College Theatre.
“Is someone trying to tell me something?” quips Glassman.
Offstage, Glassman and his wife, Sharon, are on the board of Civic Theatre of Allentown, where Glassman chaired the theater’s capital campaign to restore and renovate the Nineteenth Street Theatre, Allentown.
Glassman received the Allentown Arts Commission Arts Ovation Award for the Performing Arts and, with Sharon, the Arts Ovation Award for Contribution to the Arts.
Glassman, a retired dentist, is an international lecturer and clinical resident instructor at Lehigh Valley Health Network.
Playwright Peter Shaffer’s “Amadeus,” a 1981 Tony Award-winning play and 1984 theatrical motion picture, centers on a fictionalized relationship between Antonio Salieri and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Salieri, the established elder composer at the court of Austrian Emperor Joseph II, is threatened by the younger musical genius and works to undermine him.
It’s not the first time Glassman has played Salieri.
“I did the show for Bill [Mutimer], as Salieri, 22 years ago at Main Street Theatre in Quakertown,” recalls Glassman.
Mutimer directs “Amadeus” at NCC, where he’s theater department chair. Mutimer directed “Amadeus” at Main Street Theatre, where he was artistic director.
“There were real budget constraints,” recalls Glassman of the Main Street Theatre “Amadeus” production, adding, “And they actually did the show without music, which is crazy because music is so essentially a part of it.
“We were both frustrated by that,” Glassman says of he and Mutimer.
There’s no such problem with a lack of music in the NCC Theatre production of “Amadeus,” which includes a superb chamber music quartet playing the music of Mozart and Salieri before, at intermission, after, and during the play.
“One of the neat things about the production is that the show is often done with taped music. Rather than taping, they’ve gotten four musicians together and they’ve written all the music for the quartet,” says Glassman.
The music of Mozart and Salieri was adapted and arranged by Takeshi Hirochi, who plays violin in the quartet, and Kyle Hummel, who plays flute and clarinet in the quartet, which includes Ellen Hospado, cello, and Lucille DeMasi Kincaid, the play’s musical director, who plays harpsichord and piano.
“This is not the kind of show that’s easily done in a college setting,” says Glassman.
“Bill [Mutimer] thought it would be a really good experience for his kids, one, because of the history, and, two, to do such a classically-oriented play. It’s really a language play. It’s about language and music,” says Glassman.
“Also, to give the kids the experience to work with an experienced actor and, hopefully, to learn not only techniques, but discipline.”
“Amadeus” is staged in the Lipkin Theatre, Kopacek Hall, NCC Green Pond Campus, Bethlehem Township.
“I may be one of the few performers who has performed there who knew Cecil and Eleanor Lipkin, who had performed at Civic [Theatre of Allentown]. They were great people,” remembers Glassman.
“About two years ago, Bill [Mutimer] said he’d like to do ‘Amadeus’ at the college,” Glassman continues.
“There’s lots of reasons why I decided to it. It’s a monstrous role. Being 72, I saw it as a challenge.
“This very well may be my last role because there aren’t that many opportunities in the Lehigh Valley [for stage show roles] at this point for someone my age.”
Glassman, as Salieri, is on stage for the entire show, delivering the majority of the play’s script, including numerous monologues.
“It was a lot of work. It was my whole summer, learning the lines,” Glassman says.
“Amadeus” rehearsals began about six weeks prior to the play opening at NCC.
“These kids, many of them have jobs and school work,” Glassman says of the NCC student and NCC alumni cast. “You can’t rehearse at the level that we do at Civic. But I think they’ve really responded. I’m impressed with the work.”
Glassman says he’s enjoyed portraying the role of Salieri and the rehearsals for “Amadeus”:
“I hope to do the show right and play a role in these kids’ learning experiences.
“My goals were to enjoy the process, and challenge myself in the process, theatrically and as educator,” Glassman says.
“Amadeus,” 7:30 p.m. Oct. 19; 2 p.m. Oct. 20, Lipkin Theatre, Kopacek Hall, Northampton Community College. Seats are general admission. Tickets: Lipkin Theatre Box Office, Northampton Community College, Main Campus, 3835 Green Pond Road, Bethlehem Township; ncctix.org; 484-484-3412