News Ticker

Benjamin Weill

The Pirates of Penzance 2018 (NYGASP)

January 2, 2019

In the plus column, it was easy on the eyes. Scenic designer Lou Anne Gilleland created agreeable though not particularly elaborate sets: a rocky stretch of seashore for the first act and a gloomy ruined chapel for the second. Lighting designer Benjamin Weill gave us a kaleidoscope sky that turned lavender or red or some other dramatic shade, according to the changing moods of the story. And Gail J. Wofford and Quinto Ott’s costumes were bright and playful, especially the flouncy sleepwear (Queen Victoria’s Secret?) worn by the female wards of Major General Stanley, the operetta’s famed “Modern Major General.” [more]

The Yeomen of the Guard

October 30, 2018

As for cast standouts, Greenwood excelled both musically and dramatically. His ringing, expressive vocals and crisp diction made him an audience favorite. And he created an effective character shift when the assertive and seemingly self-adoring Fairfax shaves his beard to become a rather diffident novice yeoman. Another notable turn came from David Auxier as the austere, thoughtful Sir Richard Cholmondeley, the Tower lieutenant. (Auxier also served as choreographer, providing a few athletic dance moves of the sort not always seen in Gilbert & Sullivan productions.) In terms of musicality, Benke’s Phoebe had a warm, winning, almost musical-theater sound, while Watson Chase prompted goose bumps with her vibrant top notes. The production’s orchestra sounded rich and full from overture to Act II finale. [more]

The Sorcerer (New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players)

September 17, 2017

This 1877 operetta, now celebrating its 140th anniversary, has been reduced to the nine major roles and the chorus has been eliminated. The result is a streamlined version that moves along at a steady pace under Albert Bergeret’s music and stage direction. The problem with the production is that although this is listed as a comedy, the new NYGASP revival wasn’t very funny except for several contemporary references such as “Amazon Prime” and the “changes at the White House.” [more]

The Mikado Reimagined (NYGASP)

January 5, 2017

In keeping with Sullivan having been hit over the head, the cast is clothed in a motley collection: a combination of late Victorian and Japanese styles. Some are in all Japanese, some in all Victorian, most are in a combination of the two. Even the Victorian costumes have baroque additions to make them look exotic. The women all wear Victorian gowns with bustles open in the back just as though they had not finished dressing. The concept while colorful is quite a mess with every possible variation on stage at the same time. [more]

Princess Ida (2016)

May 28, 2016

Completing New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players’ 40th Season was a rare revival of 1884 "Princess Ida," the team’s eighth operetta and the only one in which the dialogue is in blank verse, it is presented in three acts, and it is based on a previous play by Gilbert. In the playwright/librettist’s second parody of Tennyson’s book-length poem "The Princess," the themes include feminism, education for women, Darwinism and the Battle of the Sexes. While the operetta still displays its relevance and timeliness, the NYG&SP production proved to be uneven in several categories. [more]

The Pirates of Penzance

December 30, 2015

The cast includes beloved NYGASP favorites as well as some less familiar faces. Coloratura soprano Sarah Caldwell Smith’s Mabel wins a justly earned ovation signing her aria, “Poor Wandering One!,” declaring her love for Frederic. He is played with cheerful restraint by tenor Carter Lynch (alternating with Daniel Greenwood). Bass-baritone David Wannen has a fine swashbuckling time as The Pirate King. Contralto Angela Christine-Smith as Ruth gives a memorable rendition of her aria, “When Frederic Was A Little Lad.” Bass David Auxier as the Sergeant of Police deals delightfully with his band of bumbling officers. [more]