Posts Tagged ‘Gilbert & Sullivan Society of Austin’

The Gondoliers: not to be missed

The summer production of the Gilbert & Sullivan Society of Austin is a delight for all ages. Elementary-school students enjoyed the entire Father’s Day Sunday matinee performance with complete attention from start to finish. A large orchestra, a cast that sings, dances, and acts at the highest level, and a fully theatrical production presented to the audience in an intimate theater with excellent acoustics are a credit to all who have had a hand in bringing this wonder of live theater to Austin. So stellar is the cast that it’s not possible to single out any particular singers, old favorites or new ones, but the combination of earnest sincerity and comic exaggeration cannot be surpassed, bringing the clever lyrics and spritely music to brilliant life. As the audience headed home, hearts were light and smiles were omnipresent. Remaining performances at the Brentwood Christian School are: Friday (today), June 24, 7:30pm; Saturday (tomorrow), June 25, 2 pm, and 7:30 pm; and Sunday, June 26, 2 pm, Everyone sings with the utmost clarity; all performances are supertitled so that not one nuance fails to be appreciated. This show is guaranteed enjoyment. Don’t fail to treat yourself and your friends and family to a very special event.

The Sorcerer enthralls

The Sorcerer: Gilbert & Sullivan Society of AustinYes, it’s silly; yes, it will make you laugh. The Sorcerer is the current production of the Gilbert & Sulllivan Society of Austin.

A mysterious potion in a teapot causes upheaval in a country village. Love is everywhere but perhaps not always where it should be.

Not least among the pleasures is a full accompaniment for the excellent vocalists provided by the Gillman Light Opera Orchestra under the expert direction of Jeffrey Jones-Ragona: nineteen instrumentalists!

There’s no stinting on the fine chorus: ten men and ten women! The principal parts are sung by old favorites and new. Each is wonderful in his or her individual fashion, and there’s no justice in singling out anyone.

All are easily understood, thanks to the small auditorium with its excellent acoustics. There are, nevertheless, supertitles for all dialogue and lyrics. The libretto is available on line, but why spoil the story in advance if it’s unfamiliar? Keep the suspense. Read it after the performance.

Direction, costumes, lighting, set and sound design, stage business, and choreography are all just as they should be. We attended a performance preceded by an hour-long children’s program. Little children attended that and then stayed for the two-act show afterwards. The Sorcerer is truly a delight for audiences of all ages.

There are no bad seats in the house at the Worley Barton Theater, Brentwood Christian School, 11908 North Lamar. Remaining performances are:

Thursday, June 25; 7:30 pm
Friday, June 26; 7:30 pm
Saturday, June 27; 2 pm and 7:30 pm
Sunday, June 28; 2 pm

Ticket prices are most reasonable, from $7 to $25. The Sorcerer is a sparkling jewel, one not to be missed.

Gilbert & Sullivan’s Patience = happiness

Patience played to a full house, including all the children who arrived early for a special program and remained for the entire matinee performance yesterday, just as entranced as the rest of us.

H.M.S. Pinafore, The Pirates of Penzance, and The Mikado seem to be the most frequently performed masterpieces, but, thanks to our very own Gilbert & Sullivan Society of Austin, we are privileged to enjoy every gem and delight in the Gilbert and Sullivan repertory.

Sparkling in the intimate new performance setting of the arts center of Brentwood Christian School (map), which seats 400 and boasts an orchestra pit that conceals the professional-quality 15-piece orchestra, Patience is a complete theatrical experience. The 22-voice chorus (11 men, 11 women) sang with a snappy vigor and the clarity that made the supertitles showcasing the lyrics really unnecessary.

Every principal singer shone, and the audience welcomed the return of comic and musical stalwarts Arthur Di Bianca, Holton Johnson, Jeanette Jones, and Russell Gregory. Meredith Ruduski, as Patience the dairy maid herself, was a fine lyric and comic presence.

Everyone associated with this production should be very proud. A lot of the stage business and choreography was quite demanding. The audience laughed everywhere it was supposed to and nowhere it was not.

Just five performances remain: Thursday, 14 June, at 8 pm; Friday, 15 June, at 8 pm; Saturday, 16 June, at 3 pm and at 8 pm; and Sunday, 17 June, at 3 pm. For ticket information, call 474-5664; advance prices are $20 for adults ($25 at the door), $15 for students over 18 with identification ($20 at the door), and $7 for those 18 and under ($10 at the door).

Do not deprive yourself. If you love music or theater or both, treat yourself to Patience.

Yeomen of the Guard

Only five performances remain for this Gilbert & Sullivan musical and comedic treasure, brought to us by our own Gilbert & Sullivan Society of Austin in a volunteer and amateur effort that’s completely professional.

There really are no bad seats at the Travis High School performing arts center. The 15-piece orchestra is a delight. Seven of the instruments are strings, and violins were never played to greater effect. The set’s a simple one, shown off to great effect by excellent lighting.

I’ve seen this comic opera performed three times, now, and I think that this is the very best version. The Yeomen of the Guard is unusual among G&S works in that only “I have a song to sing, O!” stays on the mental jukebox after the show, but there is a bounty of beautiful music beautifully performed, both instrumental and vocal. The singing is a treat, whether solo, duet, or any number of combinations of voices as ensemble. All roles are perfectly cast.

The performance that we attended was yesterday’s matinee for children. I was sorry that we arrived too late to see the juggling lesson. There are refreshments and souvenirs available in the lobby outside the auditorium.

Captioning is provided for all shows. Tickets at the door are $25 for adults, $20 for students over 18 with school i.d., and $8 for those under 18; tickets are available at a reduced price when purchased in advance, either on line or by calling 1-800-494-TIXS.

There’s a little less of the customary rollicking element and there’s a higher quotient of wistfulness, but you will laugh. This show will lift your spirits and brighten your day.

Iolanthe all-in-one entertainment center

Iolanthe: Gilbert & Sullivan Society of AustinAmong the delights of the current production of Iolanthe are a 15-piece orchestra, a singing and dancing cast of over 30 by my count, and delightful staging and costumes. The Gilbert & Sullivan Society has brought its annual grand productions to venues all over Austin; in the Travis High School performing arts center it may have found the best one yet.

Yesterday’s children’s matinee was so delightful that I hope to attend another performance of Iolanthe before the run ends. Performances are Thursday, Friday, and Saturday (June 18, 19, and 20) at 8 pm and on Sunday (June 21) at 3 pm. There will be supertitle captioning on Thursday and Friday.

H.M.S. Pinafore, Pirates of Penzance, and The Mikado are performed more often, and the opportunity to see a fully produced and laugh-out-loud production of Iolanthe is a precious one. When the peers of the realm (who are threatened by the possibility of competitive examination), along with other, lesser mortals, meet the fairy sprites of the woodland, merriment ensues. And so does beautiful music, vocal and instrumental.

Iolanthe is a true labor of love. I think that only in Austin is to be found the combination of multifaceted talent and concerted volunteer effort required to mount performances of such excellence.

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