Fortunately, the best singers were the four principals: Hartt (the perfect G&S ingûnue) and Murray, amber-voiced mezzo-soprano Megan Marino (as Phoebe, the sergeant of the guards' daughter, who has fallen in love with the condemned Colonel Fairfax and is trying to rescue him from execution), and tenor J. Thomas C. Morris (who has toured with an a cappella group called the Sons of Pitches) as the handsome albeit ungrateful and self-absorbed hero. Among these, only Morris clearly and consistently projected the words, both speaking and singing. The second-act quartet for the four of them, the irresistible "When a Wooer Goes a Wooing," was another high point, staged as if they were all in a state of catatonic shock.
Not in the same vocal league but quite hilarious were soprano Martha Evans as the bloodthirsty old maid Dame Carruthers and baritone William Thorpe as the head jailer and assistant tormenter, Wilfred Shadbolt. One of my favorite singers, monumental bass Philip Lima, left an indelible impression just by caressing his ax in the non-singing cameo role of the headsman.
Dirk Hillyer made a heroic attempt to keep the orchestra with the singers (who surely had a hard time following a conductor behind their backs), and he led the stellar orchestra with well-paced verve and a genuine affection for this endearing score.
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