BWW Reviews: PRINCESS IDA (West Michigan Savoyards)
The fourteen operas that emerged from the creative partnership of Gilbert & Sullivan bring to the stage timeless music and humor which influences musical theatre to this date. While their best-known works include the likes of H.M.S. Pinafore and The Pirates of Penzance, two of the last three productions performed by the West Michigan Savoyards, this year's selection is Princess Ida (or Castle Adamant). First Produced at the Savoy Theatre in 1884, Ida is a humorous medieval-themed romp that addresses the topsy-turvy philosophies of gender roles, relationships, women's liberation, and of course, love.
Twenty years have passed since two-year old Prince Hilarion was wed to one-year old Princess Ida, and now that she has come of age, he wants to claim his bride. But unless her highness is full six feet high, and wears mustachios, and smokes cigars, and rides en cavalier in coat of steel, the party approaching in the distance does not include his betrothed! His insulted father, King Hildebrand, takes her gristly father, King Gama, and his beefy sons, hostage, as it comes to be known that Ida has taken the head of Castle Adamant, a university for women, from which all men are shunned.
A woman's college! maddest folly going!
What can girls learn within its walls worth knowing?
I'll lay a crown (the Princess shall decide it)
I'll teach them twice as much in half-an-hour outside it!
Hildebrand wishes to take her castle by force, but the young prince, seeking to win her love instead of taking it through strength of arms, enters the school disguised, accompanied by his brash and witty companions, Florian and Cyril, where they must play convincing co-eds to the ladies of the castle or face their death for the intrusion. Will Ida fall for the prince and abandon her cherished school? Or will she reject him, and bring war to their two kingdoms?
Libretto by William Gilbert; music by Arthur Sullivan; choreography and stage direction by Carol McAndrew; choral and orchestral direction by Tim Oonk. Presented by the West Michigan Savoyards at the Wealthy Theatre, 1130 Wealthy St. SE in Grand Rapids; Tickets (616) 459-4788 ext. 131 or www.westmichigansavoyards.org. Running Thursday, May 15 through Sunday, May 18; Shows at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, 1 p.m. and 8 p.m. Friday, 8 p.m. Saturday, and 2:30 p.m. Sunday.
WITH: Molly Alman (Lady Blanche), Rene Baatenburg (Ensemble), Donovan Brown (Ensemble), Jordan Brown (Ensemble), Anna Cormier (Melissa), Jim DeVries (Cyril), Amanda Halash (Chloe), Kate Howerton (Ensemble), Danny Jones (Florian), Bill Kennedy (Ensemble), Jen Kouw (Sacharissa), Shane Lynn (Prince Hilarion), Steve Marouchoc (Ensemble), Bill McAndrew (King Gama), Melissa Metivier (Ada), Caroline Monahan (Princess Ida), Tom Mooney (Guron), Bob Oom (Ensemble), Molly Porter (Lady Psyche), William Porter (Arac), Ronald Roys (Scynthius), Cassandra Sandros (Ensemble), Carol Schachermeyer (Ensemble), Kathy Vandenberg (Ensemble), and Clark Wells (King Hildebrand)
In conjunction with "Princess Ida," WMS will hold its second annual scholarship program. The scholarship is available to all Grand Rapids-area high school juniors and seniors. The goal is to expose high school students to Gilbert & Sullivan, the arts, the social/political issues of Victorian England, and how those issues relate to society today. Applicants are encouraged to attend this year's performance and write a short essay on the show. At least one $1,000 scholarship will be awarded to an area high school student to attend the college of their choice. Details of the scholarship program are provided on the WMS website at www.westmichigansavoyards.org