'The Sorcerer' conjures up good fun
KAREN CIMMS/TIMES NEWS PHOTOS The sorcerer, John Wellington Wells (Bill Lance), Alexis (Mike Trainer) and Aline (Jennifer Arner) survey the results of the sorcerer's love potion.
The Carbon/Schuylkill Community Theater will be performing "The Sorcerer" at the Mauch Chunk Opera House, 14 W. Broadway, Jim Thorpe, this weekend.
Show times are 7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 7 and 3 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 8.
"The Sorcerer," also known as "The Elixir of Love," is an operetta by W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan. It was written and originally performed Nov. 17, 1877 at the Opéra Comique in London. It was the duo's third collaboration and their first two-act play. The show was revised in 1884, including an abridged Act I and a new opening to Act II.
Director and choreographer Janet Sager appeals to the modern audience, making the show more accessible with a few updates to timeless humor and a classic plot. She wants the audience to know that even though these operettas are old, they are still valuable.
"It's amazing to me how even back then they were cracking mother-in-law jokes," says Sager, "and 133 years later it's still funny. So much of the humor is still relevant today."
Before television and film, entertainment came in the form of the theater. In those days operettas were musical comedy. Once called comic operas, the term operetta was coined to differentiate them from American musical comedy and dramatic operas. Typically light-hearted, they were not at all high-brow, but were England's answer to the more burlesque and poorly-translated shows coming from France.
Just like today, when theatergoers might want to see a musical comedy such as "42nd Street" or "La Cage Aux Folles," Victorian audiences enjoyed the operetta.
This weekend's performance of "The Sorcerer" is a collaboration between the CSCT and the Bach and Handle Chorale. Randall Perry, founder and conductor of the chorale, is the show's accompanist.
"I chose a Gilbert and Sullivan piece because of the beautiful music, which is something that the chorale would be comfortable with," says Sager.
The show opens to the chorus of villagers singing to the delight of the upcoming engagement of Alexis (Mike Trainer, Jim Thorpe and Carbon County Idol winner), son of Sir Marmaduke Pointdextre (Luke Swierczek) to Aline (Jennifer Arner), daughter of Lady Sangazure (Amanda Cimms).
The tone changes when a village girl, Constance (Marissa Miller), tearfully confesses her love of the village reverend and a confirmed bachelor, Dr. Daly (Joel Sager), to her mother, Mrs. Partlet (Dru Laughman).
Sir Marmaduke is pleased by his son's choice of a wife, since Aline's family is descended from Helen of Troy and another member of the local peerage, but Alexis has a wild dream that people should marry for love, regardless of age, rank, or wealth, and wants the whole village to love as he does.
Alexis hires John Wellington Wells (Bill Lance), a family sorcerer from the J.W. Wells and Co. to create a love-at-first-sight potion that, when drank, will render its victims head-over-heels in love with the first person they see. Despite Aline's protests and fear of all things magical, Alexis succeeds in slipping the potion to the villagers and they fall under its spell.
As most people know, the best laid plans of mice and men often go astray, and in this case, hilarity ensues.
The rest of the cast, aged from high school age to senior citizens, includes the Notary (Jim Cimms) and a group of villagers: Kirk Arner, Sarah Bednar, Josiah Behrens, Michelle Franko, Teah Garrison, Dee Harvan, Michalina Konopka, Carleen Ladden, Amanda Leccese, Angela Mosley, Ed Sayre, Kristoff Stens and John Swierczek.
Gilbert and Sullivan were known for their satire of the Victorian world in which they lived, including social customs and politics, much like today's comic strips in "The New Yorker" or "Doonesbury." The tongue-in-cheek style is obvious in the blatant hypocrisy of the caricaturelike characters. For instance, Sir Marmaduke rebukes his son for his outspoken declarations of love for Aline, while he has been madly in love with Lady Sangazure the past 50 years, and has never gotten farther than polite conversation with her.
The audience will enjoy beautiful music, a cast of goofy characters, and a silly, light-hearted plot along with good, old-fashioned family-approved humor. People ages 9 to 99 will be able to laugh and enjoy a good story and good music.
"The Sorcerer" also features sets designed and created by Bill Lance.
Upcoming programs from the CSCT will include "The Mad Adventures of Mr. Toad," based off of the characters from "The Wind in the Willows," and will be open to children to be performed some time in the fall.
For more information on "The Sorcerer," The Carbon/Schuylkill Community Theatre or any of the upcoming productions, call Sager at (570) 325-2317.