Quote of the Day: 

Faint heart never won fair lady!
Nothing venture, nothing win
Blood is thick, but water’s thin
In for a penny, in for a pound
It’s Love that makes the world go ’round!

W.S. Gilbert

My sister Joy and I ventured to the city for Opening Night of Ruddigore, or the Witch’s Curse, by the Gilbert & Sullivan Very Light Opera Company on Friday night. A last hurrah before life in lock down. Looking back, even that seems risky. We ate at a restaurant with few patrons, maybe five tables were occupied. The performance space for Ruddigore is the Howard Conn Fine Arts Center, which is a smaller venue. I’m not a great crowd estimator, but I’d guess around 60 people were there, and we kept our distance. Joy is more experienced at social distancing, being more of an introvert than I am, so I followed her lead. We washed our hands at every opportunity!

Seth Tychon Šteidl as Robin Oakapple, Sarah Wind Richens as Rose Maybud, and Anthony Rohr as Richard Dauntless in Ruddigore, The Gilbert & Sullivan Very Light Opera Company. Photo by Lee Stanford

It was relaxing to escape into the world of Ruddigore as imagined by director Joe Andrews. He used a 1940’s-ish Film Noir motif. I like old movies, but I’m sure I missed many of the references. Still, I knew what they were doing with characterization, the damsel in distress, the gallant hero who must complete tasks (in this case a crime a day, but not always very serious), a villain with dramatic facial expressions and the ever present cigar, and the scheming sidekick, or wing man. Everything was so clever. It was a joy to watch.  

We absolutely adored Seth Tychon Steidl (disguised as Robin Oakapple) as the leading man Sir Ruthven Murgatroyd (is that where Looney Tunes got the phrase: “Heaven’s to Murgatroyd”?) His voice is strong and and expressive. He was all in physically for the role. At one point he’s under a spell and acts like a puppet, or spider, on a string, controlled by another character, like in Harry Potter with the Cruciatus Curse. Gilbert & Sullivan are known for their quick songs with many tongue-twisting lyrics. Seth, and the entire cast, let them roll off their tongues with ease. Their diction was wonderful. The words come at you fast and furious.

Anthony Rohr plays Richard Dauntless, wing man to our fearless hero. His voice is also powerful and expressive. He gets many laughs with his lines and antics. Also, he’s a great dancer. All the dancing in the show was a fun surprise. His duet with Sir Despard Murgatroyd (a wicked baronet), played by Joe Allen, was delightful. Their voices blended nicely and their dance routine was fun to watch.

Sarah Wind Richens plays Rose Maybud, the beautiful maiden who is in search of a suitable mate. Her voice is lovely. Lara Trujillo plays Mad Margaret. Lara gets all the fun, crazy lady roles, and she’s great at them. Besides having a fantastic voice, she’s able to portray those characters in a fun and exciting way. “Give me a word,” she pleads, “that might recall me to my saner self.” They choose Basingstoke! 

The Gilbert & Sullivan Very Light Opera Company has been doing an annual show since 1979. They are all professional singers and musicians. Music Director Randal A. Buikema directs a live orchestra (somewhere behind the curtain). Set design by Larry Rostad. He does a great job with a smaller stage, adding some fun details. Barb Portinga designed the costumes, extra fun with period pieces from the 1940’s and ghosty characters in one of my favorite numbers with Oakapple and his ancestors, Painted Emblems of a Race and When the Night Wind Howls. Powerful and a little creepy.

The entire production is wonderful from the vintage ads and film references, great costumes, to the powerful voices and live orchestra. I wish you all could see it. Please visit their website if you had tickets, or want to see it. We are all experiencing an unprecedented event, a forced isolation that is confusing and hard to grasp. We are social beings that crave interaction, most of us anyway. So, this is hard. It’s a hardship on anyone in the service industry or performing arts. If you had a ticket and won’t be able to see the show, consider it a donation to the company and the arts. Let’s support each other in any way that we can. We are blessed to live in a time of online connection. I watched my son’s final concert with the Concordia Concert online. Who knows if they’ll have a graduation ceremony? What I do know is that this too shall pass. We are united in public health and concern for one another. God bless and stay as healthy as you can.

*Just read on their website: They have canceled the rest of their run due to the need to slow down the spread of the Coronavirus (or COVID- 19).

Go. Create. Inspire!

Journaling Prompt: What are some ways that you are experiencing the arts or other entertainment during this time of Social Distancing?