Hark, the hour of ten is sounding;
Hearts with anxious fears are bounding,
Hall of Justice crowds surrounding,
Breathing hope and fear –
For today in this arena,
Summoned by a stern subpoena,
Edwin, sued by Angelina,
Shortly will appear.

I almost missed this one. For some reason, I hadn’t noticed it showing up on Goldstar (maybe it didn’t) until the Lamplighters added an extra performance on Sunday night. Plus, it was raining and I had no one to go with. But my Lenten vow made me get over my laziness and head out to the theater. I wasn’t disappointed.

Jonathan Spencer and Jennifer Ashworth in Trial by Jury
Photo by David Allen and Joanne Kay, 2011

Trial by Jury is Gilbert & Sullivan’s earliest work that is still performed today. While only one act and therefore quite short, it has all the qualities I love about Gilbert & Sullivan operas: fun patter songs, light arias, and, most importantly, the mocking of British institutions, in this case the legal system. Usually paired with another opera (often H. M. S. Pinafore), the Lamplighters chose instead to present this story of a jilted bride suing her former fiancé for breach of promise with an abridged version of Engaged, a play by W. S. Gilbert about a man who is engaged to three women at the same time. I wasn’t particularly in the mood to see both, so thank goodness they presented Engaged first, otherwise I might have left and missed it. Supposedly it was an influence on Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, and I can totally see that. The heavy Scottish accents in the beginning were a bit tiring, but they were played for great fun and at times the play was downright hilarious. One thing I love about the Lamplighters is that they obviously take enormous pleasure in their performances and their joy is infectious.

Rose Frazier, Lauren Kivowitz, Leontyne Mbele-Mbong, and Chris Uzelac in Engaged
Photo by David Allen and Joanne Kay, 2011

So, mark your calendars for the 2011-2012 season, which starts in August at the Yerba Buena Center and will include both H.M.S. Pinafore (or The Lass That Loved a Sailor) and The Gondoliers (or The King of Barataria), as well as a sing-a-long The Pirates of Penzance (or The Slave of Duty). I really don’t want to miss any of their performances so I may just buy season tickets this time.