A ruddy good time

The Encore! Theater company presents an original version of Gilbert & Sullivan’s comic opera ‘Ruddigore.’

Ruddigore 521 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Ruddigore 521
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Fans of Gilbert & Sullivan operas have a treat in store for them over the next week or two when the Encore! Educational Theater company puts on eight performances of one of the famed Victorian composer-librettist duo’s lesser-known works Ruddigore.
According to the production’s artistic director, Robert Binder, the timing of the work’s premiere, in 1887, was probably not too well thought out. It came out shortly after The Mikado, which was Gilbert & Sullivan’s greatest triumph. Also the opening night was a bit of a disaster: A few of the main actors were sick, and part of the set collapsed during the show. The situation was further exacerbated by what some viewed as linguistic folly. Ruddigore was considered a bit too close to a coarse word back in those days, Binder explains.
The opera is a parody of the stock melodrama with the requisite characters, including the villain who carries off the maiden; the priggishly good-mannered poor-but-virtuous-heroine; the hero in disguise; and his faithful old retainer who dreams of their former glory days; and ghosts who come to life to enforce a curse.
Binder has set the Encore! production in the silent film era. It offers a lot of artistic leeway and people, including youngsters, recognize the era, says the director.
Bad start notwithstanding, Ruddigore eventually picked up a head of steam and enjoyed success when it was revived in a somewhat revised version by the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company in the 1920s. Now Encore! Theater wants to give the work its proper due in this country.
The current production is no flyweight endeavor. The show incorporates a cast of 45, plus a 15-piece orchestra and plenty of other personnel. The latter include musical director Paul Salter, choreographer Arlene Chertoff and set designer Roxane Goodkin Levy.
Encore! will perform Ruddigore at the Hirsch Theater, Beit Shmuel on December 28 and 29 at 8 p.m; December 30 at 5 p.m. and 8:30 p.m; January 4 and 5 at 8 p.m; and January 6 at 5 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. And at Yad Labanim in Ra’anana on Jan. 2 at 8 p.m.
For tickets and information: www.Encore-etc.com or the box office at (02) 620-3463