MD: Ken Matthews Directors: Jennifer Moss & Richard Straw
St Andrew’s Operatic Society is a very well established group who solely devote their attention to Gilbert and Sullivan Operettas once a year and this year the chosen piece of work was The Sorcerer, the third collaboration between W.S Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan based on a Christmas story an elixir of love written by Gilbert in 1876 and brought to life by this extremely talent group of people directed by Jennifer Moss and Richard Straw
The nineteen piece orchestra under the baton of Ken Matthews and assisted by Philip Hall were superb and provided an excellent accompaniment throughout with a good balance of sound between pit and stage and never over shadowed the principals or the chorus considering there wasn’t a microphone in sight and as always with St Andrews the tradition of the National Anthem being played and accompanied by the audience always brings a lump to the throat and makes me feel very proud of our country. Choreography was simple but well achieved and the whole show was well characterised and acted throughout by both the principals and chorus. The lighting enhanced the performance as did the set which was simple and static for the whole show but looked nice and suited the stage it was made for as were the props and cast accessories which were fitting and well used throughout. The costumes again looked good on stage with the principal costumes colourful and in keeping with the era. I am no expert in terms of G &S but what I do have is good observation skills and it was extremely obvious that the principals and chorus were very much at home and enjoying delivering this performance and with their characters.
Richard Straw not only directed this operetta but also took on the title role of John Wellington Wells a family Sorcerer, Richard dominated the stage whenever he appeared, wonderful characterisation and a magical performance adding some good comedic moments. I thoroughly enjoyed Bernadette Trotter’s lachrymose interpretation of Constance, excellent characterisation and vocals especially “When he is here” and I enjoyed how her character pined for the clumsy, loquacious vicar, Dr Daly played confidently by Michael Beck who brought a certain amount of comedy to the role I like his musical numbers “Time was when love and I were well acquainted and “O my voice is sad and low” both well delivered. Andrew Cunningham gave the audience great characterisation as the notary, elderly lawyer and there was a sterling performance from Glynda Blackburn as Constance’s mother Zorah Partlet’s again good stage presence and characterisation. Alexis Pointdextre was played with vigour and enthusiasm by the talented Steven Aitchison who had a theory that love should unite all classes and ranks and arranges to drug the whole village with a love potion which caused everyone to fall in love with the first person they saw, with tragic consequences excellent performance and vocally I loved “Love feeds on many kinds of food” and “Thou hast the power thy vaunted love”. Laura McLoughlin delivered a first class performance as Aline Sangazure her powerful vocal performance enabled her to deliver her musical numbers with ease, I particularly enjoyed the aria “O happy young heart” where she delivered a veritable master class on the art of breath control. An equal performance was delivered from Kathy Price who is no stranger to the stage, an excellent performance and a beautiful voice in the role of Lady Annabella Sangazure, I particularly enjoyed her song “In days gone by”. Simon McLoughlin gave us a dignified portrayal of Major Marmaduke Pointdextre I enjoyed he scenes between Sir Marmaduke and Lady Annabella especially the scenes where she tried to seduce him these were well delivered and extremely funny. I particularly enjoyed their duet “Welcome Joy”. Philip Hall delivered a confident Ahrimanes a Babylonian spirit and David Dunbar confidently delivered his character Hercules a factotum with conviction. The chorus of townsfolk all delivered their named characters well their musical numbers were sung beautifully for me the highlight was the reprise of “Strawberry Jam” even the audience joined in and I enjoyed “With Heart and with Voice”. When watching St Andrew’s performances I always feel like I am relieving a piece of British history and by the time it comes to the final bows I am frantically searching through the programme to see what their next production is going to be. Well done to everyone at St Andrews for another polished performance and look forward to seeing your 2018 production of The Gondoliers.