PGSO Review - Saturday Night Out with Gilbert & Sullivan
Throughout the 20th century, generations of high-school and college students have had the experience of mounting an operetta - almost always one by the team of W.S. Gilbert (librettist) and Arthur Sullivan (composer). Their music and wit contributed substantially to student life. For many, the opportunity of working on the operetta - whether in production, as part of the chorus, or in a starring role - was their first exposure to the thrill of live performance.
Those memories came flooding back for many in the audience at Saturday evening's Prince George Symphony Orchestra performance. Echoing student productions, the music played in the first hour represented the three most popular Gilbert & Sullivan operettas: The Pirates of Penzance, The Mikado, and H.M.S. Pinafore. Also similar to memories of school productions was the showcasing of local talent. Beverley Smith's stunningly beautiful soprano voice delivered "Poor Wandering One" as very few in the role of Mabel ever could. Tenor soloist Kevin Zakresky performed "A Wandering Minstrel I" from The Mikado emoting his way through bringing fun and animation to the lyrics.
Next came "Three Little Maids From School" sung with girlish glee by Bevin Campbell, Carmen Ricard and Andrea Jex. Their performance was enhanced by punctuating the words with fan snaps and flutters.
Beverley Smith returned to perform "The Sun Whose Rays Are All Ablaze" lifting her voice over the orchestra's soft and soothing music.
Finishing the first half, Kevin Zakresky embraced the lyrics of H.M.S. Pinafore's "Fair Moon To Thee I Sing" in advance of the orchestra's rendition of the popular overture from H.M.S. Pinafore.
Following the intermission, the audience settled in for a treat - a performance of Gilbert and Sullivan's short operetta "Trial By Jury." This performance had been expertly cast and directed by Alex Murray who comfortably stepped into the role of judge. Beverley Smith played the plaintiff (Angelina); Kevin Zakresky played the defendant (Edwin); Robin Norman was counsel for the plaintiff and Barry Booth played the usher.
A true cast of characters was brought together to form the men of the jury and the women's chorus comprised the public represented at the trial.
In typical fashion for this art form, Gilbert and Sullivan reflected the manners and morals of Victorian society and had some fun pointing out its inconsistencies and absurdities. Evidently, they took particular joy in poking fun at bureaucracy. Trial By Jury is basically a send-up of the legal profession. Somehow, the humour holds up through the decades, and this audience certainly relished it.
At concert's end, conductor Dala announced "We have a surprise for you." He introduced trombone player Rob Hannigan. He, in turn, called Amber up to the stage and as the lights dimmed, got down on one knee and proposed to her. She accepted to approving audience applause and is now his fiance. With that, the orchestra replayed "Oh, Joy Unbounded" to conclude the enjoyable evening's performance.