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Ida’s Ardor – The Boston Musical Intelligencer – Lyric Say

Mei Lin Po as Ada (Sue Flintphoto)

The storied Sudbury Savoyards’s current manufacturing of one in all Gilbert & Sullivan’s least-performed works, Princess Ida, or Fort Adamant, on the Kirschner Auditorium Theater at Lincoln-Sudbury Regional Excessive Faculty from February 24 – March 2, 2024, achieved a rousing success.

Stage Director Rebecca Graber’s thoughtfully conceived imaginative and prescient for this got here throughout with nice satisfactions. Navigating a doubtlessly divisive libretto with finesse, Graber used up to date gown and a principally period-agnostic setting, and added earnestness to comedic characters, to search out depth and nuance in a piece that in much less cautious arms might have come throughout as an insulting satire of feminism. Graber additionally solid lots of the smaller and refrain roles gender-neutrally, in order that characters’ genders appeared primarily in selection of costume, and never in gendered hair, make-up, or apparent physique sorts, leading to (as an illustration) some bald or bearded feminine characters, highlighting the arbitrariness of gender within the libretto and certainly in society at massive, and altering the context of the crossdressing disguises central to the plot in Acts II and III.

Music Director Stephanie Beatrice led the orchestra and singers to near-professional ranges. Not like many neighborhood theater orchestras, the Sudbury Savoyards’ orchestra transcended price-of-admission hurdles of pitch and time, to give attention to expressive dynamics and the emotive content material of Sullivan’s rating―spectacular for such a rarity as Princess Ida.

Maria Bozich, within the title function of Princess Ida, the headstrong feminist idealist evinced first price operatic coaching. Michael Gonzalez, as Ida’s meant Prince Hilarion, showcased each vocal prowess and bodily comedy. His rendition of the lovestruck prince endeared him to us, and his comedic appearing had us in stitches. Additional, Gonzalez’s chemistry with Thai Johnson as Cyril and David Smyth as Florian added to the general attraction of the present. Whether or not bantering, harmonizing, or finishing up well-executed comedian stage enterprise, this threesome saved the viewers engaged and entertained as they infiltrated the women-only tutorial sanctum of Fort Adamant by cross-dressing in tartan skirts.

Brad Amidon’s portrayal of Ida’s hilariously caricaturish father King Gama captured the essence of his famously unsympathetic character with out veering into outright villainy. Princess Ida’s brothers—Arac (Blair Eig), Guron (Matthew Garber), and Scynthius (Santo Mammone)—appeared as hypermasculine wannabe meathead jocks, with over-the-top letters A, G , and S on their sweatshirts to determine them (utilized in a handful of memorable stage gags). Eig, Garber, and Mammone’s physicality and exaggerated masculinity below Graber’s wonderful path offered each comedic reduction and incisive commentary and carved some very memorable moments out of their pretty minor roles. The ultimate battle in Act III between Eig, Garber, and Mammone in opposition to Gonzalez, Johnson, and Smyth, delivered an exceptionally impressed little bit of stage comedy: Gonzalez, Johnson, and Smyth eliminated their tartan skirt disguises and used them as matadors’ capes to trick Eig, Garber, and Mammone into charging and knocking each other out.

Thai Johnson as Cyril Danielle Shevchenko as Psyche (Chris Pollari photograph)

Though initially slated for Matt Tragert, the efficiency that your reviewer noticed on March 2 featured Tim Ayers-Kerr as Prince Hilarion’s father King Hildebrand; Ayers-Kerr stepped into the function on quick discover when Tragert fell ailing. Ayers-Kerr’s gave a masterful impersonation of portrayal of the king—all of the extra spectacular contemplating that Ayers-Kerr sometimes sings tenor somewhat than baritone, and that he was on-book, singing and appearing his coronary heart out as if he have been unencumbered by a rating. Ayers-Kerr’s nuanced interpretations, and suit-and-fedora costuming paying homage to a mafia don, proved central to this manufacturing’s imaginative and prescient as a result of it efficiently painted King Hildebrand, not Woman Blanche, because the true antagonist. Becca Graber’s path selections highlighted this, and the excellence of Ayers-Kerr’s traversal helped elevate this manufacturing and find the villainy the place W.S. Gilbert usually finds it, in positions of energy ― within the custom of Sir Joseph Porter and never Dick Deadeye because the true antagonist of HMS Pinafore, and Alexis Pointdextre and never J.W.Wells because the true antagonist of The Sorcerer.

However Sara DeLong as Woman Blanch, gave essentially the most extraordinary turns and stole each scene she graced. Her beautiful singing mixed with deft appearing, impeccable supply, and good comedian timing made her character genuinely sympathetic regardless of its caricatures of strident feminism and the interior politics of academia. DeLong’s capacity to evoke empathy from the viewers in an unsympathetic function, testifies to her expertise, and helped the manufacturing keep away from the lure of creating Princess Ida primarily a mocking satire of feminism, somewhat than a broader and extra fascinating commentary on gender roles in society. The viewers additionally would by no means guess that DeLong sometimes sings soprano; she inhabited this alto function with heat, highlighting her vary and adaptableness. DeLong loved wonderful on-stage chemistry with Woman Blanche’s daughter Melissa (Sara Mitnik), and Woman Blanche’s college colleague Woman Psyche (Danielle Shevchenko); each made wonderful musical and dramatic instances for his or her roles.

Whereas the performances shone, a number of the technical elements have been considerably underwhelming. Set design, scene portray, and lighting lacked the creativity and polish of the remainder of the manufacturing. Invoice Lopoulos (sound design) and Elizabeth Stone (make-up design), nonetheless, deserve applause. With the entire actors carrying hidden mics, the voices crammed the home with crisp execution, and the make-up enhanced character portrayals. Costume designers Sue Flint and Donna Roessler additionally did wonderful work and selected fashionable somewhat than the standard medieval interval costumes. This up to date twist injected some fashionable power into this Ida, freshly centered the operetta on the satire somewhat than belaboring the setting. The straightforward costuming did its job successfully. The manufacturing made in depth and efficient use of uncredited props to reinforce the comedy all through — one in all director Becca Graber’s calling playing cards, together with discovering some intelligent approach of slipping the macarena into her choreography.

Sudbury Savoyards’s Princess Ida offered a pleasant and efficient mix of music, comedy, and stunning depth. The sturdy performances and inventive selections made this memorable.

Nathaniel Koven studied voice and piano from a younger age, and has a specific ardour for opera and musical theater. He has sung with the Tanglewood Pageant Refrain, and has been an actor, singer, stage director, and producer of Gilbert & Sullivan operettas at Harvard from 2008-2011 and MIT from 2012-2015.

Maria Bozich as Princess Ida and Ladies of Fort Adamant (Chris Pollari photograph)

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