A review by Suzanne Birrell (an unabashed fan of Gilbert & Sullivan).
RuddiGORE, a tweaked Gilbert and Sullivan operetta, is now playing at the Studio Stage. If you enjoy Gilbert and Sullivan, you will enjoy this production. I found myself smiling all the way through. Some changes have been made, the ghosts are now zombies and Richard Dauntless is a werewolf. Since Gilbert and Sullivan were fond of social references, some of the slights have been updated though some are unsurprisingly still relevant: Filing a false income tax return? Everybody does it! The production hosts a single piano - a real piano- played with vim and vigor by Cynthia Heath. The effect is rather like being in an English Pub without - thankfully- the smoke.
(Right: Alena Bernardi, Seth Freed)
(Left:Nathan Jenisch, Alena Bernardi)
The show starts with Sky LaFontaine (Millicent) reading a story to a baby: Miss Fontaine has a winning smile that could launch ships with a personality to boot. She managed to steal the show with a look and a shrug several times. After her introduction, the production did immediately suffer a bit with some singers not being able to project above the piano. However, when Alena Bernardi as Rose Maybud entered the stage, we could hear her loud and clearly understand every word. She was 100% Gilbert and Sullivan over the top in. Seth Freed as Richard Dauntless was likewise dauntless in his performance. Not only did he display great dancing ability, his werewolf howls just seem to naturally emerge from the character he created. The duets between the two were absolutely stellar. The chorus numbers featuring the ladies were likewise easy to enjoy as was the chorus of framed ancestors. Sean Faye as the wicked Baronet gave us a solid G & S performance.
(Right: Laura Ashley Jackling, Giane Morris, Katelyn Semer)
The second act, all the singers were easier to hear and understand. It's early in the run so maybe they just have to discover that Gilbert and Sullivan needs to be over the top. (Which turns out to be similar to an observation about the original New York cast.)
The costumes were fun, however, the "gore" make-up was more of a distraction. Zombies can look dark eyed and pale without having cuts and gashes marring their features.
Since its premiere in 1887, Ruddigore has had more changes than most other Gilbert and Sullivan operettas. (The first change being the name: Ruddygore sounds like "bloody" which was a banned slang word of the times.) Changes were made by the writing team almost up to the end of their lives with addition changes being made ever since. However, some of Sullivan's most brilliant music is found in this score and Gilbert is at his wittiest. The adaptation presented by Director Trace Oakley keeps the story intact.
For a fun evening and good entertainment, check out RuddiGORE.
Listen to interviews with the actors with host Ashton Marcus
RuddiGORE. A new adaptation of the Gilbert & Sullivan operetta. Performed in English.
WHO: Libretto and lyrics by W.S. Gilbert. Music by Arthur Sullivan. Adaptation and additional lyrics by Trace Oakley. Directed by Trace Oakley. Musical director: Alena Bernardi. Accompanist: Eugene Clayton. Choreographer. Averi Quinn Yorek. Presented by The Proof Doubt Closer Theatre Company.
WHERE: Studio/Stage, 520 N. Western Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90004.
WHEN: August 5- August 28, 2016. Fri. & Sat. at 8:00, Sun. at 5:00. Dark on August 14.
Saturday matinee at 2:00 on August 20.
RESERVATIONS: (800) 838-3006.
Online ticketing: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2581451