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Comic opera showcases many talents of locals in joyful production – review

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The Sorcerer – West Norfolk Gilbert and Sullivan Society – St George’s Guildhall, LynnWhat would happen if a young couple – happily in love – call on a local magician to create a love potion so strong that everyone in the village suddenly falls for the first person they saw?Well, that’s the premise of The Sorcerer as told by the West Norfolk Gilbert and Sullivan Society in its production currently playing at St George’s Guildhall in Lynn.

Sharon Cutworth (Aline), Elizabeth Hammond (Escort), Julie Bjerregaard (Lady Sangazure), Piers Westlake (Notary), Julie Turner (Miss Marple), Andy Hiles (Dr Daly) and Judith Semmons (Mrs Partlet)

I went along to see the show – it is (unjustifiably) one of Gilbert and Sullivan’s lesser-known comic operas – on Thursday with my mum, who is much more au fait with the world of opera than I am.Prior to Thursday night, the only work of Gilbert and Sullivan’s that I had experienced was Pirates of Penzance (on VHS in the 90s) – and that is a shame because the society’s production of The Sorcerer was joyful and showcased the many talents of its cast, crew and musicians.The opera was first performed in 1877 but director Mel Bartlett’s version is set in 1936 when the clouds of war are beginning to form over Europe.

Julie Turner (Miss Marple), Sharon Cutworth (Aline) and Julie Bjerregaard (Lady Sangazure)

Set in the sleepy English village of Ploverleigh, the residents are preparing for a momentous occasion as Alexis (the son of Sir Marmaduke Pointdextre) and Aline (the daughter of Lady Arabella Sangazure) are due to be betrothed – before the love potion idea comes to fruition.These two – played respectively by James Bowman and Sharon Cutworth – are our leads (along with the sorcerer himself Anil Chakrabarti as John Wellington Wells) and you feel in safe hands whenever they take to the stage.All three had lovely and distinctive tones of voice – and the group numbers allowed the many different tones to blend together beautifully.Chakrabati, along with Steve Scales as Sir Marmaduke Pointdextre and Julie Bjerregaard as Lady Sangazure, all navigated some seriously speedy lyrics – apparently called ‘patter songs’, so my mum tells me – with finesse.

Andy Hiles (Dr Daly) and Piers Westlake (Notary)

Mention should also go to Andy Hiles as the vicar Dr Daly and Terry Kivlin as ‘A Very Deaf Old Man’ who provided some amusing moments, as well as the other principal cast members Piers Westlake as the lawyer, Judith Semmons as Mrs Partlet and Jess Bowman as Constance who were also very much part of the glue holding the show together.That’s not forgetting the young talent Sophie Mycock as Hercules – it was brilliant to see her confidence in her moments on stage as the sorcerer’s assistant.Speaking of talent, it would be remiss of me not to give some recognition to those in charge of the colourful set, lighting and sound effects – which play an important part – and the costumes, in addition to the musicians guided by musical director Richard Winch.If you are looking to make plans this weekend, why not pop along to witness for yourself the talents of locals in West Norfolk Gilbert and Sullivan Society? You’ll be in for an evening of brilliant entertainment.The show continues this evening (Friday) at 7.30pm with evening and matinee (2.30pm) performances on Saturday. Visit kingslynncornexchange.co.uk to book, or call 01553 764864.This year, the performances support Norfolk Hospice Tapping House, Macmillan Cancer Support, Motor Neurone Disease Association (MNDA) and Lynn Night Shelter – with the chance to donate after the shows.

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