I’m a dealer in magic and spells
In blessings and curses
And ever-filled purses
In prophecies, witches, and knells
If you want a proud foe to “make tracks”
If you’d melt a rich uncle in wax
You’ve but to look in on our resident Djinn
Number seventy, Simmery Axe
—“My name is John Wellington Wells,” The Sorcerer
While “My Name is John Wellington Wells” is one of my favorite Gilbert & Sullivan patter songs, I didn’t remember many other numbers from The Sorcerer, and the work is very seldom performed, so I was a bit wary of what to expect from a semi-staged version.
I should have known that The Lamplighters wouldn’t let me down. Despite the fact that The Sorcerer is one of Gilbert & Sullivan’s weaker efforts (which I put down to its being their first full-length opera after the now-lost Thespis), the company did a great job with what they had to work with. I’m not sure that the overture business of a peek backstage was entirely necessary, but overall this was more “staged” than “semi-staged” and for that I’m very grateful. For one, the costumes by Melissa Wortman were absolutely glorious, which I wasn’t expecting at all.
The basic plot of The Sorcerer is quite simple: Aline and Alexis are about to celebrate their official betrothal. To propagate their theory that people should marry for love regardless of class or rank, Alexis has invited a sorcerer to administer a love potion to the entire village during the ceremonial tea. Needless to say, things do not go exactly as planned and, after a slow start, we finally enter the world of topsy-turvydom.
Standouts among the cast were Lindsay Thompson Roush (who I last saw in her Lamplighters debut in H.M.S. Pinafore) as Aline, the bride-to-be, and Baker Peeples as Dr. Daly, whose melancholy vicar is one of my favorite Gilbert & Sullivan characters. I also thoroughly enjoyed Chris Uzelac’s John Wellington Wells, a sorcerer by way of Johnny Depp’s Captain Jack Sparrow. Lamplighter regulars Rose Frazier, Robert Vann, and Robby Stafford delivered their usual strong performances. One to watch is Megan Stetson, who played Lady Sangazure, here in her Lamplighters debut.
Note: The Sorcerer is the final production of the Lamplighter’s 60th season. They will return in August with Iolanthe, and then continue the 2013-2014 season in November with their annual gala and productions of Die Fledermaus and a H.M.S. Pinafore singalong in 2014.