SA Light Opera Society (SALOS)
Tower Arts Theatre
Until 20 Aug 2017

Review by John Wells

There is a delightful warmth and genial atmosphere to community theatre company SALOS’ Gilbert and Sullivan double bill of “Trial by Jury” and “HMS Pinafore”. (These short operettas are traditionally performed together, a sort of G & S Cav and Pag.) This is simple amateur theatre on a shoe-string, without the polish and trimmings that come with bigger budgets. There were lots of smiles and happy faces as the audience ventured out into the winter cool at the end of the show.

“Trial by Jury”, a one-act comic treatment of a breach of promise of marriage trial, breezes along jauntily, with rousing unison singing from the energetic chorus. Dione Baker (Counsel for the Plaintiff) sings beautifully and brings a nice sense of drama to her role.

“HMS Pinafore” continues, after interval, in the same rollicking style. This is a sweet and silly love story, with a few canny nods to politics and the English class system, set on a naval yacht. “Pinafore” has some of Sir Arthur Sullivan’s loveliest melodies, and overall the cast sings well, especially in the full chorus numbers. The principals are strong; in particular, Danielle Ruggerio-Prior (Josephine) has a gorgeous voice, Maria Geraghty has great charisma and presence as Buttercup, and Alex Bond (Captain Corcoran) is a natural show-off, bringing a wonderful wit and energy to his role.

Director Pam Tucker plays a straight bat with this production. Her direction does not embrace the essential silliness of the story-lines, and opportunities for humour and campiness are missed. There are few topical references (a nice bridal party selfie and a throwaway quip about Facebook notwithstanding); Sir William Gilbert’s libretto can withstand substantial tweaking to add humour and relevance. But Tucker’s good sense of tempo and momentum mean the operettas zip along well. The pace never flags. (Well, hardly ever.)

The small band, conducted by John Wilson and anchored by Sue Penhale on piano, perform creditably. The singing is generally good (musical direction from Alex Bond) although the chorus and some principals have pitch problems from time to time.

This is an amiable, consistent, community theatre outing.