Caldwell Smith in the role of Rose Maybud and Daniel Greenwood in the role of
Richard Dauntless -- sing “Happily coupled are we” backed by the Bridesmaids
Chorus – RuddigoreAct 2
by Deirdre Donovan
New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players (NYGASP) resurrects Ruddigore,
for a rousing 40th year celebration at NYU Skirball Center. This is
NYGASP's maiden production at the Skirball but will hardly be their last.
In fact, the company has adopted the venue as home for its
There’s no doubt that this new outing of Ruddigore
floated smoothly through the Skirball‘s spacious theater, which has
excellent acoustics and sightlines. Although 19th century English
audiences found the opera just so-so at its Savoy premiere on January 21,
1887, as whipped-up by NYGASP’s artistic director Albert Bergeret and the
lively company, this so-called mediocre work gained a new saucy flavor.
Daniel Greenwood (right) in the role of Richard Dauntless,
does some fancy foot work with the Bridesmaids Chorus – Ruddigore Act 1
in the19th Century in both the Fishing Village of Reddering in
Cornwall and the Picture Gallery in Ruddigore Castle, this burlesque still has
plenty of fun in its operatic bones! Its wild premise revolves around a
witch’s curse that hovers over the Baronet of Ruddigore, much like a Sword of
Damocles. He must commit a crime a day or be cursed, which would mean that it
would be passed down to the next generation. Little surprise that Ruddigore’s
subtitle is the Witch’s Curse.” The Baronet is no easy target, however.
Assuming the guise of farmer Robin Oakapple (David Macaluso), the Baronet slyly
allows his younger brother to deal with the quandary. All is well for a while,
but his ancestors begin to haunt the Baronet. And the rest is for you to
ponder and puzzle out.
grabbed the audience by the ears with the light and breezy opener, “Fair is
Rose,” sung by the Bridesmaids, Zorah, and Villagers. This ensemble piece
flowed into the darker ensemble number “Sir Rupert Murgatroyd” and then in
sharp contrast, to a solo “If Somebody There Chanced To Be,” sung coyly by
Sarah Caldwell Smith as town beauty Rose Maybud. The rest of Act I gained
comic texture, and gallons of melodrama, with such numbers as “My Boy You May
Take It From Me,” sung by Rose’s suitors Robin and Richard Dauntless (Daniel
Greenwood). Romance ratcheted up during “In Sailing O’er Life’s Ocean Wide,”
a delightful parody of a love triangle with Robin and Richard wooing Rose.
there are some dead spots in Act 1, the famous duo tucked some theatrical
surprises into Act 2. In fact, the real showstoppers were the scenes with Mad
Margaret (Caitlin Burke) and Sir Despard Murgatroyd (Richard Alan Holmes),
singing the duet “I Once Was a Very Abandoned Person.” The other standout
was the duet “I Once Was a Meek,“ which was sung by Robin and Adam (Ryan Allen)
in the Picture Gallery in Ruddigore Castle with the portraits of the ancestors
David Wannen center portrays the
ghost of Sir Roderic Murgatroyd - Ruddigore Act 2
Photos: David Sigafoose
production values were solid and organically melded with the macabre storyline.
Albere’s set design captured the marine mood and atmosphere of the Fishing
Village of Reddering, and together with Benjamin Weill’s striking lighting, the
opera took off. In fact, some scenes were reminiscent of an early action film,
flicker-effects and all. Gail J. Wolford’s smart costumes were as right for
the salt -tars as for Mad Margaret, who had Ophelia-like flowers and herbs
strewn throughout her long, disheveled hair.
19th Century critic thumb-nosed Ruddigore as “resurrection
pie.” While this opera will never be ranked in the top tier of Gilbert and
Sullivan’s canon, as helmed by Bergeret at the Skirball and performed by this
talented company, it certainly deserved two thumbs-up.
run: November 1 & 2.
the NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts, 566 La Guardia Place,
more information on The New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players (NYGASP)
2014-2015 season, Phone NYU Skirball Center Box Office at 212-998-4941 or by
time: 2 hours; 45 minutes.