10 November 2006: Gilbert and Sullivan, The Gondoliers

Valley Light Opera, at Amherst Regional High School. Music director and conductor, David Kidwell. Stage director, Mary Jane Disco. Choreography, Graham Christian.

The annual major show by the VLO, and one of the best in memory. A certain amount of kidding the script was part of the fun, including a moment of inserted music from the Loony Tunes & Merry Melodies sign-off — “er, that’s all, folks” — at an exit moment in the second act. The perennial complaint of indis­tinct lyrics could be made. As the stage director for the recent VLO productions of Pinafore and Ruddigore, I hammered home this point, with partial success. And some soloists did not project as well as they might have. But the show was very wittily conceived; Mary Jane Disco in her debut as stage director did extremely well (although I had heard of chaos up until dress rehearsal). And David Kidwell, a long-proven music director of church choirs and symphonies, produced clear, effective musical lines accompanied by a well-disciplined orchestra. It’s all voluntary — no one receives a salary from the VLO with the exception of rehear­sal accompanists.

The standouts were the two gondoliers, Ted Blaisdell as Marco and Matt Roehrig as Giuseppe, tenor and baritone respectively, who had great fun with their roles and were excellent, both musically and characterologically. Matt Roehrig has a remarkable capacity to make every character he takes on the epit­ome of self-satisfied, comical fatuity, and his Giuseppe was a joy to watch. The Don Alhambra, Ken Moore, was a disappointment; he lacks convincing stage presence, and his dialogue had a strange, faux-Austrian twang that seemed tot­ally out of place. Otherwise, characters were well acted and effective. The choreo­graphy by Graham Christian was, as usual, excellent. How Christian could man­age choreographing and at the same time carrying off the role of the Duke of Plaza-Toro as well as he did was an impressive feat.

Next year, The Mikado.


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An American Playgoer at Home by Joseph Donohue is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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