BWW Review: The New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players Get Intimate With THE SORCERER
For over forty years, the New York Gilbert and Sullivan Players have been Gotham's go-to company for high-quality G&S productions produced with full choruses and orchestras in the traditional D'Oyly Carte style.
But this past weekend, the company continued its experiment with intimacy, following last season's jewel box mounting of TRIAL BY JURY at the Marjorie S. Deane Little Theater with a reduced-company staging of The Sorcerer.
Premiering in 1877, the merry romp involving a tiny town and a teapot filled with a love potion was one of Gilbert and Sullivan's earlier frolics. In the next two years, it would be followed by a pair of their better-known classics, H.M.S. PINAFORE and THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE.
With a company of nine players doubling as both principals and chorus members, and with pianist Andrea Stryker-Rodda providing accompaniment, founding artistic director Albert Bergeret's charming production featured some lovely voices and some cheery Victorian clowning.
"My name is John Wellington Wells / I'm a dealer in magic and spells," patters the delightfully nimble James Mills in the leading comic role. The complicated mixture of plots, all dealing with people in love (of both the spoken and unspoken variety), comes to its obligatorily topsy-turvy twist when the wedding guests of Alexis (Carter Lynch) and Aline (Laurelyn Watson Chase, sporting a beautiful soprano) take a sip of Wells' magic potion that puts all who consume it to sleep, only to wake up under a spell that will force them to mutually fall in love with the first unattached person of the opposite gender they lay eyes upon, regardless of age, wealth or (gasp!) social status.
This causes the gloomy Constance (a fun turn by Sarah Caldwell Smith), who has been pining for the affections of the local vicar, Dr. Daly (nicely oddball Richard Alan Holmes), to find unexpected romance elsewhere.
Further issues ensue when Alexis coaxes Aline to take the potion with him, in order to assure that their love will never die.
As is traditional with Gilbert and Sullivan, modern references were snuck in for laughs, accounting for lyrics involving Botox, Amazon Prime and, of course, contemporary politics.
While the New York Gilbert and Sullivan Players' full-scale productions have become a highlight of the city's performing arts scene, this modest mounting was nevertheless a happy bundle of merriment.