I am waiting anxiously for the new Gaillard Auditorium to open. I was disappointed by the delay, but hopefully the festival will have the new facility available in full glory next year. I hope one of the consequences is to reduce (or eliminate) the events in the Cistern and move them elsewhere. The seating in the Cistern is uncomfortable and the shows are at the mercy of the weather. Time to move.

As for the shows I watched this year:

“Veremonda, L’Amazonne Di Aragone” was a pleasant surprise. I particularly enjoyed the second half. I am not sure the original version had the same humorous tone, but it certainly was the right way to approach the opera in the 21st century. Well done.

“Knee Deep” by Casus Circus was probably the best family offering. It pleased spectators of all ages. A cast of four kept the audience engrossed for one non-stop hour of a fascinating blend of acrobatics, gymnastics and visual art. This amazing group deserved the standing ovations it got.

“What Moves You” with Lil Buck and Ashley Bathgate was a big letdown. Improvisation takes a lot of planning and rehearsal. The artists involved in this show basically met as the festival started and had little time to get to know each other, plan the show and rehearse. The result was a very disjointed effort that ran very long.

Madeleine Peyroux and Diane Reeves, for different reasons, were totally out of place at the Cistern. Ms. Peyroux’s music is fit for small, intimate venues. The Woolf Street playhouse comes to mind. She is the polar opposite of Ms. Reeves, an outgoing diva who has complete command of a show. Her performance was outstanding and well backed-up by her combo. Her show would have worked well in a large indoor venue with good acoustics.

The festival needs the auditorium as much as the auditorium needs the festival.

I’m looking forward to next year’s programs and the new facilities. It should be exciting.

Gabriel Virella

Spearfish Circle

Charleston