“The world today can be tumultuous, and the vicissitudes of life can be overwhelming. How wonderful then to be able to enter this musical world where confusion always turns to clarity, where mistakes turn to corrections, where shadows become light and above all — where sorrow become joy,” writes James Harp in his director’s notes for the Young Victorian Theatre Company‘s recent production of HMS Pinafore the Gilbert & Sullivan nautical operetta. In their new home at the Sinex Theatre in the Macfarlane Arts Center, Roland Park Country School, the music soared from the orchestra pit while the performers mugged, danced, and sang their way into audience hearts.
Young Victorian Theatre Company has a long tradition in Baltimore dating back to the early 1970s. Throughout that tradition the company has also supported many emerging artists and this year does not differ. It is no wonder then, that mezzo-soprano Jenni Bank has returned for another first-rate performance with the troupe as Little Buttercup. With a commanding voice that easily fills the hall, Bank kept the audience rapt during comedic and pensive moments. Bank and Peter Tomaszewski, as Captain Corcoran, made for strong stage partners. Their Act II duet “Things are seldom what they seem” was a highlight of the evening demonstrating their understanding of the style in voice and physicality without exaggeration. The young lovers Logan Rucker as Ralph Rackstraw and Gabrielle DeMers as Josephine exhibited earnest vocalism. Matching each other in tenderness, the end of their duet in Act I “Refrain, audacious tar” showed off their respective tenor and soprano brilliance.
One of the prize qualities of Gilbert & Sullivan productions is the fact that many parts must come together to make the production successful. The work of the aforementioned would not shine as bright without the help of the rest of the cast onstage. Andrew Adelsberger (Dick Deadeye) and Jonathan Wagstaff (Bill Bobstay) were fine supporting characters that vivified the story and kept the action moving along. Colin Adams-Tooney brought effervescence to his portrayal of Sir Joseph Porter particularly in the wild variations of intonation in his spoken dialogue. Finally, Phillip Collister did a commendable job eliciting idyllic sounds from the orchestra and leading the spirited chorus.
As I enjoyed the musical romp, I found myself agreeing with Maestro Harp director’s note. I am quite inspired to know that in Baltimore I can experience an invented language nonopera one weekend and not even a full seven days later giggle my way through a Young Vic performance — all in the summer season! It was a delight to spend an evening reveling in the familiar songs and the merriment exuding from the stage and orchestra pit. Young Victorian Theatre Company will be on my list of must-see’s next summer too.