Maverick Theater brings back ‘Amadeus’ to Fullerton stage

Jaycob Hunter plays Mozart in the Maverick Theater's production of Peter Shaffer's "Amadeus."
(Austin Bauman)

Maverick Theater unleashes the fictionalized Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart on its Fullerton stage for the third time in its 21 years with Peter Shaffer’s “Amadeus,” running now through March 23.

The show, which opened Feb. 16, tells the story of the famous composer through the envious eyes of contemporary Antonio Salieri. Shaffer’s play was first performed in 1979. The 1984 film was adapted from the play.

“What people are going to experience when they see the Maverick’s production of ‘Amadeus’ is the essence of the writer’s work and the historical elements of Mozart and the supposed conflict with Salieri,” said Maverick Theater owner Brian Newell, who is the show’s producer, director and light, sound and scenic designer. “A lot of this was created by Peter Shaffer. But that’s what makes the story so juicy and fun. And you’re gonna have that experience, that revengeful story is all here in its evilness and its delight and humor. All of those elements that you love about the movie, ‘Amadeus,’ are in it.”


Fans of the film can experience Mozart’s dramatic flair and characteristic giggle, Salieri’s envious rage and many 18th-century wigs. Even those unfamiliar can experience the impact of Mozart as a one-of-a-kind composer of his time.

Jaycob Hunter, who has been performing at the Maverick Theater for 15 years, plays Mozart in the show. He said the film was a childhood favorite of his.

“I think it’s the hardest thing I’ve every done on stage,” Hunter said. “I’ve done a lot of comedies, and those are really fun, and those can be physically exhausting because you’re exerting so much energy. I’ve done a lot of dramatic stuff, and that can be emotionally exhausting because you’re really putting yourself out there in front of everyone. But this was just a giant mashup of both of those things. He’s so high energy, he’s so extravagant and kind of rambunctious but then as the story goes on, he’s driven into madness and despair and sickness, and then ultimately death. So to have to like go from the height of joy in your life all the way to the end in one show, and really in a rapid succession of scenes, like that second act is so fast. It’s truly exhausting. But not in a negative way. … It’s very rewarding.”

Glenn Freeze portrays plays Antonio Salieri in "Amadeus" at the Maverick Theater in Fullerton.
Glenn Freeze portrays plays Antonio Salieri in “Amadeus” at the Maverick Theater and said the role has been “the most challenging thing I’ve ever done in my life.”
(Austin Bauman)

Glenn Freeze, who plays Salieri, also spoke to the challenge of his role.

“This was by far, the most challenging thing I’ve ever done in my life,” he said. “And I’ve done a lot of shows for about 50 years or thereabouts. I’ve never done anything that even closely approaches to this.”

Salieri, who narrates the story, is a complex character with a lot of monologue.

“It’s exercise,” Freeze said. “I’m exercising my acting muscles. … He is just full of hate and resentment … and he’s rather narcissistic.”

In addition to the passionate character dynamic, costumes and wigs feature highly in the show. Newell said that the two other times he presented the show at the theater — in 2003 and 2013 — the costume rentals were in the thousands of dollars. Since then, he purchased a costume warehouse and has plenty to choose from.

“That’s what the show demands is just to be filled with this 18th-century fashion,” he said. “You want to see the wigs, these outrageous wigs. … You just can’t go out and buy a wig that’s 18th century. You got to hire a professional wig stylist, and I hired three for this show.”

Jeff Weeks, of Jeff Weeks Hair Design in Fullerton, made five wigs for the show — including both Mozart wigs and a Salieri wig. The show has 13 wigs in total.

“The director really likes the movie, so it was important to him to have a wig similar to the pink wig in the movie,” he said. “Historically Mozart didn’t have a pink wig ... The movie was from the ‘80s, and we often feel he needs a rock star approach.”

Jaycob Hunter as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Samantha Green as Constanze Mozart.
Jaycob Hunter as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Samantha Green as Constanze Mozart in the Maverick Theater production of “Amadeus.”
(Austin Bauman)

Samantha Green, playing Constanze Mozart, uses two wigs in the show. She said she has six to seven hair and costume changes.

“The costumes have like six layers to them, so gets a little tricky,” she said. “But I love them. I love the costumes and I love the wigs. They’re so beautiful. And it’s so fun to wear those clothes. I love costumes. That’s half the reason why I like acting. I love playing dress-up. This is a really, really fun show.”

Green said that to play Mozart’s wife, she had to figure out their relationship.

“Since Mozart is essentially a child, he’s got this child-like wonder, and that’s what’s great about him,” she said. “But he’s also a brat and a baby and he needs kind of a mother, he needs somebody who’s gonna take care of him, and that’s who Constanze is. And she loves him, and he brings a lot of joy and fun to her life, but it also puts her in a difficult position where now she’s the only one who is really thinking about practical matters. So once I figured that out, it was pretty simple, because then I just got to sit back and listen to Jaycob and just play with him.”

Actors perform in "Amadeus" dressed in period-inspired costumes and wigs.
Maverick Theater owner Brian Newell, who directed the current production of “Amadeus,” put particular focus on the costumes and wigs.
(Austin Bauman)