A SALUTE TO GILBERT & SULLIVAN, FROM LONDON TO BALTIMORE - at Young Victorian Theatre Company in Baltimore
I am very familiar with Baltimore's Young Victorian Theatre. It's been a staple every summer in the Roland Park area of Baltimore celebrating the works of the great duo Gilbert & Sullivan. It is celebrating it's 49th season and getting ready for a spectacular 50th Anniversary season in July 2020 by their SALUTE TO GILBERT & SULLIVAN FROM LONDON TO BALTIMORE which ends its three performance presentation on Sunday afternoon, July 21 at 3 p.m. at the Gilman School Alumni Auditorium. Don't let the summer heat keep you away. Bring a sweater, it is chilly.
I must admit it's been a very busy theater summer season and I did not pencil in this show until I heard from my good friend Garth who called me and said you MUST go see this! I am so glad she did. Now I will tell you, my readers, "YOU MUST GO SEE IT".
The "Young Vic" was started back I 1971 by a group of Gilman students who in 1971 put on the Gilbert & Sullivan "Iolanthe". They did not plan their work would last this long. General Manager Brian Goodman has had that position for the past 42 years and without him this annual summer program would not be as successful as it is. It rents costumes and sets, hires a full orchestra, and brings in professional lead singers.
Last night, Goodman introduced the event promising a huge 50th Anniversary presentation featuring"The Pirates of Penzance".
The program began with the superb orchestra under the baton of Christopher M. Cicconi performed the Overture to "Yeoman of the Guard". It was my first time hearing this music and it was riveting. It was followed by the entire company singing "Entrance of the Peers and Peeresses from "Iolanthe"
Then, a Baltimore institution, Dan Rodricks, the premiere Baltimore Sun columnist and past Young Vic performer himself, took the stage and did a masterful job as narrator throughout the evening. He brought much levity to the occasion. I noticed his fellow Baltimore Sun Sports columnist Kevin Coward in the audience urging him on.
Rodricks reminisced about the year 1971 when Young Vic began. Nixon was President and the Orioles had won three straight pennants. He related it was 1977 when Goodman became General Manager and joked, "The Young Vic has become the "Middle Age Vic".
The professional voices then took over. Alisa Roca sang "Poor Wondering One" from PIRATES OF PENZANCE. She was astonishing.
I loved hearing my favorite G&S show, HMS PINAFORE's "I'm Called Little Buttercup" sung by Catrin Rowenna Davies. Loved the local references mentioned in the new lyrics ending with "I'm Just a Baltimore Hon". It was cute having shopping bags with local markets Graul's and Eddie's. It ended with a touch of hairspray.
Rodricks then introduced the section on the Patter Song and songs from Broadway who took a clue from G&S. Catrin Rowenna Davies, Joshua Hughes, and Mark McGrath were fabulous during "My Eyes are Fully Open from RUDDIGORE.
It was very smart to then present Broadway's Tony-winning musical THE MUSIC MAN (it beat West Side Story) with "Trouble" sung by Joshua Hughes. MUSIC MAN is returning to Broadway next season with the great Hugh Jackman and Sutton Foster. Keeley Boworth Borland than sang the beautiful ballad "Till There Was You" which the Beatles even used in their album "Meet the Beatles".
Moe Patter came from THE MIKADO with the hysterical "Three Little Maids" sung by Alissa Roca, Keeley Bosworth Borland, and Hannah Wardell all wearing crowns of flowers. Then came the trio of Adam Caughey, Mark McGrath, and Patrick J. Toomey performing "I Am a Maiden" from PRINCESS IDA. It was hysterical. They finished with a "Charlie's Angels" pose.
The Broadway hit Hamilton was represented by "Burn" done wonderfully by Melissa Mino.
Rodricks was back to mention that lyricist Gilbert was a failed lawyer and that G&S first brought their music to the United States in 1879 with PINAFORE and PIRATES.
Act I ended with "Let the Punishment Fit the Crime" from THE MIKADO (John T.K. Scherch took over conducting the orchestra for a time) and the brilliant "Final of Act I from PINAFORE where John Scherch shined as "Dick Deadeye" along with Adam Caughey as "Ralph", Gabrielle DeMers as "Josephine", Catrin Rowenna Davies as "Cousin Hebe", and Christopher Fotis as "Bosun".
Act II began with two numbers from THE YEOMAN OF THE GUARD, "I Have a Song to Sing O! (Alissa Roca and Christopher Fotis) and "This Done! I am a Bride" (Gabrielle DeMers).
Rodricks then spoke about the "Comic Patter Man". There were two great numbers from IOLANTHE, "Nightmare Song" (Joshua Huges) and "If You Go In" which featured Patrick J. Toomey, Mark McGrath, and even Dan Rodricks in a lovey trio where they sang and danced (thanks to Choreographer Thomas Hochla).
Certainly a highlight came when Scott Nunn appeared draped in an English flag, a crown, and a wig. He sang the funny "You'll be Back" from HAMILTON where he played King George III and even mentioned an airplane used during the Revolutionary War. (HAMILTON ends its run at the Hippodrome on Sunday.) The audience loved it. After the number the orchestra took out tiny American flags and waved them.
Love was the next subject and I enjoyed the gorgeous melody of "O Love, True Love" from THE SORCERER sung by Keely Bosworth Borland and Adam Caughey. Melissa Mino sang the lovely "A Simple Sailor" from PINAFORE, followed by "Stay Frederic, Stay" from PIRATES sung by the duet of Alissa Roca and Adam Caughey.
The topic of Showstoppers was next and the entire cast nailed "With Cat-Like Tread" from PIRATES featuring Christopher Fotis. The tune has been borrowed for "Hail, Hail, The Gang's All Here". Loved The Rockettes' kick line.
The "Finale of Act 2" from THE GONDOLIERS was a fitting ending to a great evening of entertainment.
There was even an encore from the orchestra of the "Overture" to YEOMAN OF THE GUARD which the audience loved.
Kudos to Stage Director James Harp who did a phenomenal job putting this all together.
I really enjoyed the use of Surtitles by Laurie Goodman and Kelly Hughes Iverson. I wish every musical used them.
I can't wait till 2020 and PIRATES!
Do not miss this great event at the Gilman School. For tickets, call 410-323-3077.
Photo Credit: Todd Douglas