The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, November 25, 2005


Savoyard Light Opera Company performs Gilbert & Sullivan's H.M.S. Pinafore

For the Savoyard Light Opera Company and its audiences, this season has been one of counting blessings. In the Corey auditorium of the Carlisle School at a recent performance of Gilbert & Sullivan's H.M.S. Pinafore, there was a sense of gratitude in knowing that this troupe can still call Carlisle its home; that we only need to travel as far as our own town center to enjoy professional quality theater.

Unless you are new to town, you likely know the story of how the Savoyard Light Opera Company (SLOC) was requested to find a new theater home for its annual fall show, due to space constraints at the school. Last year's performance of The Secret Garden would have been its last in Carlisle. But the group made a public plea to their audiences to remain in town, and supporters in Carlisle helped convince school officials to reconsider.

Certainly this year's production helped remind people why they wanted to keep this theater group in town. Once again, the sets, designed by Brian Harris, were exquisite, depicting the deck of the H.M.S. Pinafore, painted a deep teal blue and featuring a British flag. As always, the approximately 30-member orchestra led by Fred Frabotta was breathtaking. Even in Boston it is rare to find such a full orchestra, and nearly unheard-of in community theater.

One benefit of this orchestra and the group's reputation is that it attracts top-quality performers from all over the Boston area. There were some familiar faces: Christopher Porth of Acton doing a hilarious turn as the ship's Captain Corcoran (a far cry from his gloomy Archibald Craven in last year's The Secret Garden); Benjamin Cole of Needham as the handsomely pompous Sir Joseph Porter was seen most recently here as Pish-Tush in The Mikado; and accomplished contralto Laura Schall Gouillart of Concord as Little Buttercup, who has been seen frequently in SLOC performances, starting with its first Carlisle production in 1988. There were new faces as well, notably Lauren Sprague of Lowell, whose soaring soprano voice and comedic timing added to the ingénue role of Josephine, and Michael Quezzaire-Belle of Medford showcased his polished tenor voice as her love interest, the dashing sailor Ralph Rackstraw. Backing them up was a pleasing collection of sailors (including Carlisle residents Philip Drew and Larry Milner) and a women's chorus of Sir Joseph's "sisters, and his cousins and his aunts."

It is good to have the Savoyard Light Opera Company still making their home in Carlisle, and already anticipating next November's production of the Lerner and Loewe musical, Camelot.

2005 The Carlisle Mosquito