Darien Arts Center: "I've Got A Little Twist" / Arden Anderson-Broecking
Published 10:10 pm, Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Last Saturday evening, there was plenty of talent and laughter at the Darien Art's Center's Weatherstone Studio, when six delightful singers offered an evening of (sort of) Gilbert and Sullivan, and with music from contemporary musical theater (sort of), and they did it in a unique way.
Titled "I've Got a Little Twist," the "twist" was combining the music of Gilbert and Sullivan operas and today's musicals in a way that displayed, without a doubt, that the theater composers we love, Rodgers, Loewe, Sondheim, Porter, etc., owe a great debt to the two British knights. The singers are members of the New York Gilbert and Sullivan Players, known as NYGASP. They are all legitimate singers with the ability to cross over, and they most decidedly did.
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This evening would very likely not have been possible without the genius of Mark York, who arranged all the music in the most tasteful possible way, and served as the musical director and accompanist. The blending of two styles worked beautifully, the transitions smooth, logical and very, very funny. The singers enjoyed it, and, as a result, we did, too.
The singers, who make up the traditional casting in the G&S productions in the company, were all excellent. The charming master of ceremonies was David Auxier, who directed as well. His funny introductions to the various pieces, his teasing bits with the other singers, and his easy banter with the audience certainly set the light-hearted mood of the evening.
The soprano was Sarah Smith, who has exactly the right voice for the music she had to sing. The contralto, Angela Smith, had a warm sound and a lot of wit to her parts. The lyric tenor was Daniel Greenwood, who has a very attractive voice, lovely high notes and a sense of fun. The deep sonorous bass was David Wannen, who looked like a young Vincent Price, (slightly diabolical at times, too. I wonder if he does the title role in "The Mikado").
The show was almost stolen by the comic baritone who performed the patter roles made famous by Martyn Greene and Raymond Allen. He confessed to the audience that he really wanted to do the romantic parts, but he indeed sang a quietly sweet verse of "The Moon and I." Everyone had the chance to do some traditional patter, and demonstrated how the "Rock Island" and "Pick-a-Little" sections from "The Music Man" descend directly from the G&S patter songs. There was lyric singing, comic turns (a duet from "Patience" fitting perfectly into a psychiatrist's office).
Altogether, it was a really great evening. They ended with a straight-on choral arrangement of one of the loveliest pieces from "The Pirates of Penzance," "Ah, Leave Me not to Pine," blending all the voices in a shimmering moment that ended the evening.
As one of those annoying "purists," I went uncertain, and stayed to cheer, along with a sold-out and very appreciative audience.