Any denizen of the theater can appreciate the apprehension that accompanies the opening night of a show. After countless hours of rehearsal the stage is set, the lines are memorized, and all actors can do is rely on their own fortitude and that of their peers. The Sinfonicron Light Opera Company brought all of this to life in Thursday’s opening night production of “Sullivan and Gilbert.”
Based on the actual Victorian-era theatrical duo of William Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan, the musical was written by Ken Ludwig and premiered in 1983. Sinfonicron’s operatic display captures the chaotic antics that take place behind the scenes as the directors, Sullivan and Gilbert, have only eight hours to put the finishing touches on their latest production. However, when tempers boil over and secrets threaten to tear the friendship apart, the pair struggles to rally the cast and prepare for the curtain to rise on opening night.
Completely student run, the Sinfonicron Light Opera Company celebrated its 50th year as the College of William and Mary’s only opera company with this witty production directed by Kelsey Schneider ’14. Colorful, cohesive and clever throughout, the show displayed a distinct level of professionalism in every detail and expression. From costumes to hair, all aspects of the production were fitting of the Victorian era, providing an added layer of believability.
Each member of the relatively small ensemble was engaging and maintained character with very few exceptions. The impressive volume and enunciation lent intensity and clarity to the larger musical numbers, while the simple yet balletic choreography envisioned by Megan Tatum ’15 was carried out with skill and finesse.
Ricky Portner ’14 and Ryan Warsing ’14 brought an undeniable degree of emotion to the stage. Their versatility was displayed in the pair’s numerous exchanges, which ranged from shrewd banter to moments of palpable fraternity. Tyler Bell ’16 and Annie Kehrli ’14 both served as necessary middle ground to aptly balance the energy that engulfed the plot.
Though some actors struggled to portray a believable level of age and maturity, the overall skill of the supporting characters made for some notable moments. The vocal dexterity of John Kean ’16, Will Theuer ’17, Tiger Ricchetti ’17 and Andreas Moffett ’15 allowed for dynamic harmonies while Isabel DoCampo ’16, Christine Jacobs ’16, Erin Roberts ’16 and Gillian Giudice ’17 each took advantage of moments to display their unique vocal skills.
The production’s orchestra, directed by Ethan Roday ’14, was quiet at appropriate times, and simplistic sets allowed for smooth transitions while simultaneously drawing attention to the actors’ colorful hues. Lighting designed by Sunny Vinsavich ’15 served to differentiate between scenes that took place on and off stage while well-tuned microphones and apt projection allowed nearly every line, lyric and colorful outburst to be heard.
Sinfonicron Light Opera Company’s production of “Sullivan & Gilbert” is a testament to the high level of talent and dedication alive and thriving at the College. This lighthearted, realistic story serves as a reminder that while friends may challenge you, they always have your best interests at heart — and that the very best of friends often know you better than you know yourself.