Mister Eclectic (howeird) wrote,
Mister Eclectic
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Mini-Review: The Sorcerer @ Stanford Savoyards

When I was the A&E editor of my campus paper, my policy was to never review a performance unless there was going to be another one the readers could see for themselves. I hate to break this rule because regardless of what I think of a show, someone out there will enjoy it, and may go just to see if it could possibly be as bad as all that.

I'll break the rule here, because the only show I was able to attend was the final performance of a very short run of Gilbert & Sullivan's The Sorcerer at Stanford, presented by the Savoyards.

Standard disclaimer: I have been onstage twice, backstage several times, and directed once for this group.

Advertised as a "Bollywood" style production, I wanted very much for this experiment to work. I thought it was a fun idea, and would have worked on the production if I hadn't been in the throes of changing jobs and moving.

It didn't work. Or I should say it fell well short of its potential.

The idea was to dress up a G&S show as set in India, and with a big cast of singers and dancers with more choreography and over-the-top acting than most Americans see in a decade.

Where they succeeded: The four women dancers were excellent, and their costumes superb. The one male dance was excellent. The three women dressed up as male dancers, and their costumes, left much to be desired - they looked like Pakistani prison uniforms. They needed far more dancers, and much more Indian style dancing to make this work. They also needed Indian instruments in the orchestra. Instead of Bollywood, the show seemed like The Sorcerer with women in saaris and men in whatever you call those Indian tunics. After the female dancer costumes, the best outfits in the lot were two of the Victorian women's dresses.

There was a lot of Bollywood style dancing in the first few scenes, but much of the G&S music did not lend itself, and it looked like by the time they got to Act II they had pretty much given up on the theme.

But more disappointing for me than the experiment not working, the show as a whole did not work for me either. Stanford Savoyards used to mount professional quality shows with a mixture of the best talent from the community and students and staff. They altered that a few years ago to favor students, but now it appears they will cast students in major roles whether or not they are capable of performing their parts. The role of the Vicar was painful to listen to. This is a part for a middle-aged man, was played by a boy who looked like he was not yet old enough to drink, and had no idea what notes he was supposed to be singing. The other leads were okay, but just okay. Musical direction was not very good, lots of wrong notes in the orchestra and poor intonation in the multi-part songs. The set was just a simple series of flats, a set of steps, and a cartoonish mural of an  Indian elephant-headed god with his trunk in what appeared to be a bowl of popcorn. Special effects featured two smoke machines which sounded like a 747 taking off, and produced about 10% as much smoke as was needed. There were no real lighting effects, though the play calls for several.

In short, it was like an average college production. Sigh.
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