It seemed like it was a sunny day aboard “H.M.S. Pinafore” on Sunday afternoon as it docked near the Spa Little Theatre. But Gilbert & Sullivan and Opera Saratoga had other ideas in mind as the company opened its 52nd year before a near-capacity crowd.
WHERE: Spa Little Theatre, Saratoga Spa State Park, Saratoga Springs
WHEN: 2 p.m. Tuesday, Sunday and July 1 and 7:30 p.m. Friday and July 6
HOW MUCH: $85 to $50
MORE INFO: 584-6018 or www.operasaratoga.org
Set designer Martin Lopez’s ingenious use of the entire stage gave the production a spiffy new look. Instead of a painted backdrop, there were three light boxes of blue sky and clouds. The orchestra, which was cleverly dressed as 19th century sailors, was put visibly on the second level of the ship and was obviously to be seen as the ship’s orchestra. Even Curt Tucker, the conductor, was thusly dressed, which brought a big laugh when he turned around to acknowledge the applause.
With the audience primed for a comic show, it was not disappointed. The singing was sensational, the acting was convincing and comically apt, and everything that supported the cast from the costumes to the lighting was on target.
The singers all had big, soaring voices and sang with the cleanest diction.
Soprano Chelsea Basler, as Josephine, was charming, pert, and incredibly polished for someone who was part of the company’s apprentice program. Mezzo-soprano Janara Kellerman projected a lush toughness as an unexpectedly forceful Little Buttercup.
The men were all solid. Glenn Seven Allen as Ralph Rackstraw had a voice that rang with great intensity. Christopher Burchett as the Captain sang beautifully. The eight-member men’s chorus was not only terrific but their dancing has potential as a chorus line. Craig Irvin’s Dick Deadeye was crafty enough to illicit “boos” from the crowd at curtain calls.
The lightheartedness of this traditional yet cleverly comic production, the blocking and the marvelous dance routines were the results of Lawrence Edelson’s directing and choreography. He surprised the audience like a magician and it guffawed happily. A male chorus flouncing as show girls? The captain fishing and catching ... a banana?
Zowie. The orchestra was equally buoyant, tight, and never overwhelmed the singers.
There are five more performances: 2 p.m. Tuesday, June 30 and July 1; 7:30 p.m. June 28 and July 6.