What a lovely show.

This was perhaps the fifth time for me at the Stratford theatres, third with my dear lady wife, second with the two brats in tow. This time, “tow” is not entirely the right word, as this time the brats took turns co-piloting us to the Stratford airport. Like last time, Sadie (the airport dog – a golden retriever) made herself available for some worship/petting for the whole time we spent at the terminal.

What little I know about theatre, I learned from Slings and Arrows, and from an engineer’s fascination with the inferred logistical/mechanical goings-on backstage, and of course from admiring the performances.

And what lovely performances! Singers who can act, actors who can sing, dancers who can sing and act, etc. etc. etc.. Plus a pitful of fine musicians. The set was splendid. and most props worked. (C. David Johnson had some trouble with the history-of-Stratford verse they appended to his famous Modern Major General song. A poster of Des McAnuff failed to unroll on cue, until Mr. Johnson karate-chopped the stranding string, all while the chorus was going. I bring this up not to hold the event against them, but to commemorate something especially funny that will likely never happen again.) I loved the innate humour of the Gilbert & Sullivan, plus most of the gags the director Ethan McSweeny and accomplices inserted. We found charming the a comical range of races and ages cast for General Stanley’s daughters, lovely all. The straight treatment of the comedy was refreshing: not campy nor just nudge-nudge-wink-winking at the audience. Smiles were permastuck on the audience’s faces.

I wish Stratford’s beyond the stage program were extended to cover behind-the-stage details for the layman audience. Eric got upset a few times when mechanized props operated suddenly, and he just had know right then and there how they worked. Both boys would have spent staring down into the music pit for half the show if they were permitted (a privilege omitted even from front row tickets). While Stratford makes available some of the folks involved for public discussion, it’s not enough for those more curious. I hope they will consider making documentary “making-of” videos someday. I hope the brats get older soon, so we can take in the older-audience shows too.

UPDATE: Stratford made public several image galleries at flickr: on the stage, behind the scenes. See original score & words libretto at IMSLP.

Planes, dogs, music, what a great day.