Arthur Sullivan was born on this day 169 years ago. To celebrate, Dances Patrelle poured champagne for the whole audience during intermission at tonight's presentation of GILBERT & SULLIVAN, The Ballet! It was one of those lucky Friday the 13ths. You may not get champagne, but you should try to get to one of the last three performances this weekend at the Dicapo Opera Theater. It's community ballet theater - New York style.
Francis Patrelle took a couple of dozen dancers, nine singers, a pianist, and a bassist and built a musical dance story out of thirty or so songs from the Gilbert & Sullivan comic operas The Pirates of Penzance, The Mikado, and H.M.S. Pinafore. The production concept was taken right out of musical theater history by encasing the musical numbers in the idea that the actual Gilbert & Sullivan and their D'Oyly Carte Opera Company were producing them. The singers were in the orchestra pit most of the time but were now and then engaged by the dancing performers on the stage.
Even if you're not all that familiar with the Gilbert & Sullivan comic operas, you might be happy to hear that The Mikado experienced a little judicious updating tonight. When the Lord High Executioner arrived and began singing the names of people who would not be missed if they happened to be executed some day, the list of who "would not be missed" included a certain "Tea Party ac-ti-vist"- it all rhymed perfectly.
Haglund's favorite part of the evening was the episode with the song I am the very model of the modern major general from The Pirates of Penzance in which the dancers were hilarious as they danced to the singer's fast pattering of the lyrics and the struggling rhymes.
Patrelle's productions are always fully and fabulously costumed and propped, as they were tonight, and the scenery was downright imaginative: a backdrop showing the inside of a theater from the performers' view on the stage; the front of the ship the H.M.S. Pinafore. The inventive choreography was story-oriented, fast, but not too complex for the broad range of talent executing it.
Alex Brady, Eric Vlach, John-Mark Owen, Jesse Marks, Therese Miyoshi Wendler, Amy Brandt, and Julie Voshell were but a few of the standouts in the ensemble that included some promising student dancers from several very prominent local dance schools. The singers were great as well. It was hard sometimes to see who was singing the various solos, but Haglund was able to see baritones Joshua South and Bradley Lassiter who delivered fantastic vocal performances.
Haglund bestows this Christian Louboutin suede and diamond Pump Bump Award on tonight's ensemble (dancers, singers, musicians) for delivering a terrific performance: