Community Theater carries on Gilbert and Sullivan craze
By Gilbert & Sullivan
Presented by the MIT Community
Directed by Ronni Marshak.
Musical direction by David Goldhirsch.
Kresge Little Theater, August 4-6, 10-13
By KATIE SCHWARZ
[gfA]N EXUBERANT GILBERT AND SULLIVAN extravaganza would be a refreshing distraction from the dog days of August. Unfortunately Kresge Little Theater just can't accommodate the huge, entire-cast-prancing-around-the-stage numbers I expect from Gilbert and Sullivan. What this Community Players production has to offer instead is funny individual performances and a string of small funny moments coming from good attention to detail.
Whoever becomes baronet of Ruddigore inherits a curse with the title: he has to commit a crime every day or die in agony, and therefore has a lot of trouble getting girls. If you're not already rooting for various couples in the play to overcome this problem, there's a corps of professional bridesmaids on stage most of the time encouraging people to get married. The bridesmaids, being rather single-minded, are starting to become dull when the more interesting characters show up, rotundly evil Despard Murgatroyd and Mad Margaret with round, rolling eyes and jumping-bean animation.
Henry Kettell as the lead, Ruthven Murgatroyd, has his acting skills tuned just right for a light operetta, casting about lovelorn puppydog looks. He's hilariously pitiful when, revealed as the rightful baronet of Ruddigore, he has to put on the sinister black cloak and mope around the stage while his best friend is dancing with his girl. The flamboyant cloak almost deserves star billing itself.
Another great comic touch comes from David Harrison as the menacing ghost of a former Ruddigore who turns mushy and cooing at the sight of his old (still living) girlfriend. That comes in the second act, where poor Ruthven moves into his castle to confront his picture gallery of Ruddigore ancestors, whose ghosts jump out of their picture frames to torment him (a special effect that drew ooh's from the audience).
The Community Players have lured many Gilbert and Sullivan fanatics to the cast from outside MIT. All of the leads are good singers. The choreography was too often on the stately side, perhaps to avoid people bumping into each other in the confined space. Fortunately only a few actors are needed to sing "This particularly rapid unintelligible patter is almost certainly not heard and if it is it doesn't matter," and for many other jokes in the show.