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Ruddigore, as presented by the Harvard Gilbert and Sullivan Players, is a very pleasant evening. If Mr. Philip Alston Stone, the director, has chosen to emphasize the more trivial aspects of an operetta at once both trifling and consequential (its plot, that is to say, is ridiculous; its music divine), no one can blame him--for he often makes the foolishness seem funny, a considerable accomplishment.
Much of the credit for the evening's success, however, goes not to Stone, himself, whose methods for reviving Gilbert and Sullivan are occasionally those of an overworked horse doctor (great merriment is derived from a bit of business that goes roughly: "CRASH [large offstage noise] followed by some line such as: "But soft, he approacheth"), but to the magnificent female lead whose services he was fortunate enough to secure, a Miss Mary Lou Sullivan.
Miss Sullivan comes from the New England Conservatory of Music, and it must in all candor be admitted that she puts our local talent to shame. She is the sweet Rose Maybud, a Village Maiden, of this Ruddigore, and a veritable Lttle Mary Sunshine of a Rose she is: goofy, tottering, simpering, coy, absurd, delightful, and quite seductive. And, how lovely, she has also a charming singing voice. Whenever she is on stage, the show is a complete triumph.
Not that it ever really languishes in her absence. Mr. Lucian Russell is a likeable fellow as Robin Oakapple (that is to say, the real Ruddigore, only in disguise, you know). And Mr. A. Thompson, who plays Oakapple's foster brother, Richard Dauntless, makes the most of one of Gilbert's few comic lyric tenor roles, and achieves a creditable hornpipe. So too, does Mr. Edward Schmookler, the villainous Sir Despard Murgatroyd (Oak apple's real brother, if you get what I mean). Schmookler is got up to resemble Mr. Hyde, and he rubs his hands, rolls his eyes, and flashes his tooth to great effect. Despard's intended, Mad Margaret, also needs to be mentioned: as sung by Miss Tammy Miller, this wacky spook of Elizabethan witchery is properly blood-curdling.
Stone and Mr. Michel Singher, the musical director, keep everything going at a good clip, so that a very long show doesn't drag. Mr. Lewis H. Smith was responsible for the costumes, and he, too, must be praised: they are very colorful and dashing.
Ruddigore, according to my program, was the Harvard G & S Patters first production some six years ago (they have now evidently completed some sort of a cycle). Of that first performance the CRIMSON wrote that it was "as it should have been and more so." Now I'm not quite sure just what this means, but since it appeared in the CRIMSON it must be apropos, and it seems only fair to inaugurate a new cycle in a traditional manner. This Ruddigore was as it should have been (Gilbert and Mr. Sullivan) and more so (Stone and Miss Sullivan). Which means, I guess, that it is both enjoyable and even better than that.
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