Theatre Review: Bravissimo!


donovan-ensemble-operaSuper Spectacular! To Opera With Love, written and produced by The Donovan Ensemble (part of the KC Fringe Festival): seen July 30, 2011

I think the main reason this show ended up being my favorite of the Fringe is because finally, FINALLY I got someone who teased the latecomers!

In all seriousness (well, as serious as this play was), one of the many benefits of Super Spectacular! To Opera With Love was the awesome audience interaction, from asking if anyone has ever been in a love triangle (“this will be just a trip down memory lane for you!”) to handing off the baby in Madame Butterfly.

In case you’re curious, Super Spectacular! To Opera With Love is in the vein of the works of the Reduced Shakespeare Company, and is a hilarious undertaking of condensed six operas (Carmen, La Bohme, Aida, Salome, Pagliacci, and Madame Butterfly). Starring Joe Kolbow as the bombastic Merril Garrick, giving the excuse that this whole presentation is because he is auditioning for the role of Pavarotti for a TV movie, and Johnnie Niel as the sidekick-who-probably-should-really-be-the-star (and who is also auditioning) Emmet, the two play off each other (and as mentioned the audience) fantastically.

And the humor … the humor had me laughing so hard at times I was crying, from Emmet singing the Spiderman TV show theme song to using the song “Hair” during Salome. (I about lost it when they started singing “Bittersweet Symphony” – opera style, of course.)

I know very little about opera, as I mentioned in my review of The Daughter of the Regiment, but the choice of shows combined with presenting them with modern day songs (everything from “Night and Day” to “Stairway to Heaven”) makes it a funny show regardless of your knowledge of opera. The costumes are especially good (it takes a brave man to wear a tutu on stage!), and the music was fabulous.

This piece was flawless. Many shows I had seen had offered a CD or DVD afterwards – this was the only one I had attended that I wished had at least a soundtrack available. It was so good, I almost braved going out one more time on Sunday to see their Hangover performance.

Bravo indeed, gentlemen – and encore!

The 2011 KC Fringe Festival is over, but you can see a trailer for this show and their tour schedule at

This review has been posted to the KC Stage review system. Agree or disagree? You can rate / review this show yourself (requires free registration) by going to (where every review gets you put into a drawing for prizes).