Wednesday, 15 August 2007

Festival "Ruddigore"

Just been to see Ruddigore, performed by an international cast drawn from festival-goers - covering a wide range of countries including Estonia, New Zealand, Brazil, and a wide range of counties too :) The leads were auditioned by video (somewhat similarly to the way Savoynet do), but the chorus was assembled during the festival itself - a week before the show. Dick Dauntless also wasn't cast early, incidentally, resulting in an odd programme insert... the main programme could only have the names of people who were cast in time for the printing, and then an insert was printed up listing the members of the Chorus of Bridesmaids, the Chorus of Villagers, and the Chorus of Ancestors. And at the end of the third list was an odd pair:

* Guilherme Gama (Sao Paulo, Brazil)
* Richard Dauntless (Robin's Foster-Brother)

Okay. The insert printer wasn't expecting a principal on the list, we can forgive the oddity... at least the right people were all acknowledged, and spelled correctly too.

The show maintained a high standard of singing quality, energy, and tempo. The stage was used well, and the choreography executed smoothly, but some of the diction was less than clear, partly in consequence of the speed at which various numbers were taken. There were fun touches throughout the show, such as a bridesmaid entering late and "catching up" with her bouquet movements; or another bridesmaid not wanting to listen to Dame Hannah's description of the curse; or Sir Despard leaning against the pros arch while everyone was fawning all over the new bad baronet - Despard seemed as surprised as anyone when Rose suddenly focussed on him.

The chorus work was at a similar high standard - there was the odd late hand movement but by and large everyone stayed together. Interestingly, the chorus of villagers entered Ruddigore Castle along with the bridesmaids, in the second act - each carrying some kind of token or talisman against evil. There was some slight difficulty with the blue stage lights reflecting badly on them (also with Sir Ruthven's and Old Adam's lanterns at the beginning of the act), but they added a neat touch to the scene.

Mad Margaret. I came to the show with high expectations from Elise... a coloratura soprano, not a mezzo, but so utterly and completely insane that she could hardly fail to render Margaret with some real character. And character is exactly what the part needs - Margaret is a very real person, with her own thought processes (which may not QUITE line up with the way other people think!) and her own reasons for doing things. She's mad. She's in love with Despard. She's been thrown over and wants nothing more than to come back to him. And she has an efficient (if not exactly sanitary) way of dealing with flies. I think it would have been appropriate for Rose to be a little more apprehensive in her dealings with Marg - after all, this woman is crazy, you never know what she's going to do - but apart from that, the scene had all the realism it needed. Margaret pulls off a doll's head - she might pull off Rose's next!

Speaking of Rose - very sweet voice. Managed to project personality, emotion, and vocal skill. Lost audibility occasionally but never seriously (and this might have been a consequence of my seat in the upper gallery, too).

Despard was intensely evil in the first act; but in the second, he was so afraid of his now-evil brother that he donned a glove before putting his hand on Ruthven's shoulder. And then he threw the glove to Margaret... and repeated the whole thing a moment later. I was just aching to see what he'd do the third time, but - there was no third time. Ahh well.

All in all, an excellent night's entertainment, and worth re-enjoying by video. Its applause and largely positive adjudicator's review were completely merited.

1 comment:

Chris Angelico said...

It has been brought to my attention that I missed out rather a lot - this was not because I thought the worse of the people I didn't mention, it's simply that I was badly organized. So... I'll attempt to correct that.

Robin played admirably his first scene with Rose. Came to her door with flowers, couldn't muster the courage to knock. Caught sight of her - still couldn't give her the flowers. Ended up ditching the flowers. (It would have been a fun touch to see those little messy bits of red come up again somewhere else, but you can't have everything, and a better hand at throwing flowers into a convenient disposal place don't walk!) In the second act, he really is trying to be evil. He honestly believes that making hideous faces at a couple of people is his "deadly crime" for the day - he's not deliberately trying to deceive the ghosts. (Tangent: Would it be a crime to deceive one's ancestors? And if so, would not that produce a pretty paradox!) Whatever his station in life, he wishes to fulfil it. A genuine person here, being portrayed realistically (that is, as realistic as one can be, within the topsy-turvydom of Gilbert's words).

Old Adam... perhaps a little unclear with the diction occasionally, but usually audible. Good stage presence - works well with Robin/Ruthven. Fun Clouseau-ish opening to the second act, where first Old Adam entered from the right, then Sir Ruthven entered from the left... both walking backwards... you could see it coming a mile off, they simply HAD to collide. Which they did - perfectly timed to the music. The faithful servant also did a rather spectacular job of arresting Dame Hannah later on - dragged her in on about ten miles of rope, wound the rope around things, and finally drew her in across the entire width of the stage - twice. Worked well.

Sir Roddy-Doddy :) was suitably ocmmanding during the Ghost's Entrance (why, I'm not sure, as he is the most junior of all the ghosts - but he's the spokesman, and so he has to command the stage). He didn't seem to enjoy himself too much while singing about how a specter's life is quite a happy one ('appy one), but on the other hand, we could hear all his words.

Zorah and Ruth, between them, carried their minds about half a nanometer from the surface. During the whole opening scene, they were wholeheartedly watching for Rose; then when Dame Hannah came out, first surprised and disappointed, then clearly sizing her up between themselves. You could watch them thinking... these two ladies apparently hadn't had much practice with the process :)

Dame Hannah. Good stage presence - unexpectedly strong. Hammed up her telling of the legend a bit, but more gentle and backgrounded during If Somebody There Chanced To Be. Carried her half of the Roddy/Nannikins duet admirably.

And, last but by no means forgotten - Dick Dauntless. Cast late and therefore not in the printed programme, Guilherme Gama did no less an excellent job - "well sung and well danced". His hornpipe was simple enough for the ladies of the chorus to be able to copy, yet there was enough in it to justify it being described as "the talk of the fleet".

A strong cast, working well together, successfully produced a good show. My apologies to the above for omitting them from my first report on the performance - hopefully this is now corrected.