OK, readers, I must admit (shamefully, sort of) that I’m not into operas, not even operettas, but I’m trying to be open to “it”. As I was sitting through (please note my choice of words here) this amateur production, it was with pride that at least I could understand what was going on. I wouldn’t even begin to critique this group’s production … well, we’ll see how it goes. You wouldn’t want me to steer you wrong. It is important to note that this year Thespis, Etc. is celebrating 25 years of performing Gilbert & Sullivan productions. YAHOO! The bottom line is: You like Gilbert & Sullivan, go, enjoy! To think, I was even in THE MIKADO in junior high school along with Santo Loquasto (now well known on Broadway for his set and costume designs in stage and film productions). See, gang, ya never know!
W.S. Gilbert (1836-1911) and Arthur Sullivan (1842-1900) produced 14 comic operas between 1871 and 1896. Gilbert wrote the words; Sullivan composed the music. PRINCESS IDA, the 8th of 14 collaborations, had a run of nine months in London in 1884. The opera that followed, THE MIKADO, proved to remain the most popular. Perhaps you didn’t know that Sullivan was knighted in 1883.
As an operetta, a not-so serious opera, Princess Ida is a satire on women’s education which was just coming on to the scene in Victorian England. Females began attending all-male schools. So poking fun at this controversial subject back then wasn’t far behind. Don’t leave me now…
Princess Ida (Regina Florian, you played her well…enough to shake me up with your most expressive eyes) is the daughter of King Hildebrand (Richard Brenner, you need to toughen up; it’s not the read through before rehearsals…you’re the king! Act like one! Yoo-hoo, Director!) and Prince Hilarion (Joshua Holmes) is the son of King Gama (Bob Beavins, you could have been much funnier; you have the hunchback going for you; yuk it up!) The two “kids” were married when they were two years old! Have an image? Fast forward to their 20’s; they’ve been apart all this time. Go figure… The Princess is off in the countryside of Castle Adamant starting a school for women only. Her husband (?), the Prince, is on a mission to find her and claim her as his wife. Of course, everyone gets in on all the silly action. In this “comedy”, there was one funny moment that you won’t get to experience and I shall call it a wardrobe malfunction…the Prince’s wig came off while he was getting into (or out of) an outfit while he and his buddies were dressing as females in order to enter the school under the pretense of wishing to enroll. His attempt to put it back in place sans a mirror finally made me laugh.
While Princess Ida was determined to be in charge, some of the women enjoyed the presence of “men” once they were uncovered (a pun intended) and goofy though they were. Lady Blanche (Amy Karash, you had your moments) was more interested in taking the head position of the school away from the Princess. Does the Princess give in to her “man” or does she stay true to her cause? I suggest you bring a huge sense of humor to this rollicking, frolicking, bumbling production and leave those high expectations at home.
The 2012 production of Thespis, Etc. is HMS Pinafore. Anyone want to get into the act?
Until the next show…
by W.S. Gilbert & Arthur Sullivan�
Directed by Daniel A. Libby and Ryan Goulden
February 25 – March 6, 2011
Unitarian Universalist Church Delaware County
145 W. Rose Tree Rd
Media PA 19063