23/08/2008 - 30/08/2008
Ruddygore is the ninth opera in the complete series of "Savoy" Operas being presented in Dunedin in historic sequence, from 2002 to 2012, by The Really Authentic Gilbert and Sullivan Performance Trust.
Gilbert is at his wittiest and Sullivan at his most tuneful in this wonderful take-off of Gothic horror stories and Victorian melodramas, subtitled The Witch’s Curse. Hiss the villain, cheer for the hero, swoon over the pretty heroine (though she really is a twit), shudder at Mad Margaret and be prepared to have your hair stand on end when the ancestral ghosts step down from their portraits and threaten our hero with their dreadful curse.
Excitingly – and probably for the first time in Dunedin – Ruddygore will be performed as it was written, including a quantity of spoken dialogue and several musical numbers which were deleted either by Gilbert and Sullivan themselves after its first-night staging in 1887 or by the D’Oyly Carte production team of the 1920s. Ruddigore (in its traditional edition) was last seen in Dunedin in 1962.
The Director is Dunedin’s own Hilary Norris, who directed the Trust’s season of Princess Ida in 2006. The Musical Director is Michael Andrewes.
Versatile Perth tenor, Justin Freind, appears as the reckless mariner, Richard Dauntless, with Wellington soprano, Frances Moore, as heroine Rose Maybud, and bass-baritone, Roger Wilson, as the ghostly Sir Roderic Murgatroyd.
Other important roles are filled by some of Dunedin’s finest and most successful current musical theatre performers: Michael Gray as Robin/Sir Ruthven, Claire Barton as Mad Margaret, Geoff Patton as Sir Despard, Bruce McMillan as Old Adam/Gideon Crawle and Sandra Shaw Bennett as Dame Hannah.
Lavishly authentic costumes are co-ordinated by Andrea Thomlinson.
The Southern Sinfonia accompanies in the pit.
Ruddygore will be staged at the Mayfair Theatre, Dunedin, at public performances on Sunday 24 August at 2.30pm, then on Tuesday 26, Wednesday 27, Friday 29 and Saturday 30 August at 8pm.
Bookings can be made from 7 July at the Regent Theatre Booking Office, Dunedin, (03) 477 8597, for this splendid winter’s entertainment.
Relax and imagine all is right with the world
Review by Louise Petherbridge 03rd Sep 2008
What a neat little package Ruddygore is, reassuringly frivolous, a pantomime for adults, with costumes to match and a clean minimal set to display them, in this production by ‘The Really Authentic Gilbert and Sullivan Performance Trust’. The Trust was begun several years ago with the laudable aim of presenting the whole repertory of Gilbert and Sullivan operas by 2012, and Ruddygore is their ninth production. The Southern Sinfonia provides the support for this gothic tale of ghosts and curses.
The score has the vigour of a brass band with underlying exquisite melodies that surface to charm us, like the glint of goldfish in an Edwardian garden pond. Reading the libretto I could see why aficionados hunt out quaint gems embedded in Gilbert’s script; for example the brief quote from Hamlet in Act Two, ‘Alas, poor ghost’, originally accompanied, perhaps, by one of Henry Irving’s tragic poses?
The melodramatic plot sees Michael Gray as Sir Ruthven Murgatroyd disguise himself as a young farmer, Robin Oakapple, with Justin Friend as his foster-brother, Richard Dauntless, and Bruce McMillan as his faithful servant, Old Adam Goodheart. Geoff Patton is the inevitable wicked baronet, Sir Despard Murgatroyd, and Frances Moore the pure village maiden, Rose Maybud. Sandra Shaw Bennett as Rose’s aunt, Claire Barton as Mad Margaret, and Roger Wilson as the Twenty-First Baronet, round out the cast in fine style.
Michael Andrewes has always been determined to give us Gilbert and Sullivan unsullied by cuts or alterations, and on this occasion it is a total success. I must admit that a reference to the profitability of dairy farming made me suspect a modern insertion. I was wrong; my apologies!
The orchestra and singers deserve praise for a wonderful, clear and sensitive performance of the score, where the technical difficulties were totally absorbed and invisible, as they should be.
Audiences like to know they are in capable hands. The anguished side-glances of uncertain performers can kill a show like this stone-dead in seconds. There is no fear of that with Ruddygore. The lead singers are totally absorbed into their roles, and the chorus of ghosts, professional bridesmaids, etc, are confident and in good harmony.
With the production under the skilled guidance of Hilary Norris, the audience can relax and imagine, however briefly, that all is right with the world.
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