Presented by The Hypocrites
By Gilbert and Sullivan
Directed by Sean Granny
Co-Adapted by Sean Graney, Andra Velis Simon, and Matt Kahler
Co-Directed by Thrisa Hod its
Music Directed by Andra Velis Simon
March 8 – 20, 2016
2 Arrow Street, Cambridge MA
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Review by Danielle Rosalie
A note from the Queen Geek – My apologies to the good people of The Hypocrites and Oberon. I have been on vacation in England and was not able to post the review until now. Mademoiselle Rosvally was perfectly punctual with her writing. It is my posting that is at fault. Please forgive me!
(Cambridge, MA) Ladies and gentlemen, I got my wish. You might remember last year about this time when The Hypocrites came to town with their glorious production of The Mikado that I expressed a hopeful prayer that Boston might lure them back with their production of H.M.S. Pinafore. Apparently someone in operetta heaven was listening, because (oh wonder of wonders) they came! They sang! And they conquered!
Audiences unfamiliar with The Hypocrites’ style be warned: this is not yo’ momma’s Gilbert and Sullivan. As is par for the course on the floor of Oberon, those in standing general admission should expect to move and be moved by the performers not just on an emotional level. The “promenade” style of performance means that there are very few places where you will be able to pop a squat and stay for the night. If you’re not prepared to move around, you’re best reserving a seat in the mezzanine for this one.
I’m always hard pressed to say who would have more fun with The Hypocrites’ modern, upbeat style: those who are new to Gilbert and Sullivan, or those for whom the operatic genre is old hat. For those who have never before seen this famous duo’s light operatic satire, The Hypocrites give an unplugged, acoustic rendition of these plays that’s light-hearted and fun with a modern twist while still remaining faithful to the spirit of the piece. For those who know their G&S, you’ll find new depth to the pieces when cast in this modern light and certainly enjoy the performances of this amazingly talented cast.
The Hypocrites cross-cast this entire show turning the trope of shipboard romance on its ear. Dana Omar as Ralphina is bright-eyed and lovely opposite Doug Pawlik’s wide-eyed Joseph. Emily Casey plays a practical yet ever-so-kind Captain Cat Coran. Christine Stulik is knee-slappingly hilarious as Admiral Dame Jo-Anne Porter. Kate Carson-Groner is delightfully confusing with the curmudgeonly Dot Dead-Eye. Matt Kahler plays L’il Buttercup like no one you’ve ever seen before. Erin O’Shea, Eric Schroeder, and Shawn Pfautsch run support and background vocals without fading into the background. All these performers showcase amazing energy and depth; accompanying themselves on an assortment of instruments from guitars, banjos, ukuleles, oboes, and one well-placed snare drum for a late-act-2 surprise rim shot.
It’s a short and pithy eighty minutes that will have you smiling and humming along. The Hypocrites showcase panache and style with their boundless energy. Far from being cold and foreign, the Hypocrites’ treatment of this show highlights the ridiculousness of the situations and tropes innate to melodrama. This makes the humor of Gilbert and Sullivan read all the more clearly for a twenty-first-century audience; allowing us a window into the ridiculousness of these contrived tropes. If you’re worried about a stuffy night at the opera, don’t be: The Hypocrites will easily bring you along with their zany antics.
So grab your sea-faring hat and hurry down to Oberon to catch this ship before it sails. You wouldn’t want to miss the boat on this one.