Two Weddings, One Bride is a fluffy confection of an operetta.
Opera Australia's production of Two Weddings, One Bride at the Sydney Opera House.
In a brave move, Opera Australia is pinning this year’s ticket sales on a brand new operetta created for the company by musical director/composer Robert Andrew Greene. Two Weddings, One Bride is playing for an ambitious 53 performances in the Playhouse, OA’s new home whilst the Joan Sutherland Theatre undergoes substantial renovations. But if the opening night audience can be trusted, the OA board can relax because they have a hit on their hands.
Two Weddings, One Bride is not an entirely new work. Indeed, it is something of a magpie, borrowing melodies from many of opera’s most-loved compositions. There’s a little Strauss here, a soupcon of Offenbach there, and always an echo of something you’ve heard before. And the story itself is reworking of Girofle-Girofla a little-known operetta from the 1870s by Charles Lecocq. Operetta itself came about a little earlier, in the 1840s, as a melding of serious opera and vaudeville, offering a lighter musical form. That tradition is kept alive here, where opera meets musical theatre with a large splash of panto.
The premise is simple. Philippe, the Governor of the French colony in Morocco, has got himself into hot water over some serious gambling debts. Marrying off his twin daughters Girofle and Girofla to wealthy suitors offers the family a way out of trouble. The only problem is that one daughter has been kidnapped by pirates. Unwilling to call off the weddings, the remaining daughter must marry both husbands. And so the fun begins in typical comic opera style.
There are some superb elements to this show. The cast are all excellent, with the delightful Julie Lea Goodwin doing a magnificent job in the dual role of Girofle and Girofla. She is on stage almost continuously for the 90-minutes and carries the songs wonderfully well with her crystal clear soprano and sparkling enunciation. John Bolton Wood is also a joy to watch as her frazzled father. Nicholas Jones and Andrew Jones are both engaging as the suitors, revelling in their songs and the comic acting. Musical theatre star Geraldine Turner completes the principal cast as Philippe’s long-suffering wife who simply wants to see her daughters safely wed. David Lewis ably picks up all the supporting roles. The musical accompaniment is provided by the very talented violinist Yuhki Mayne with Robert Andrew Greene on piano, both on stage for the entire performance.
There are also a few elements that could be improved as the show settles down. The choreography could be a little sharper, the lighting could be a little more gentle, and more could be done to give an illusion of depth to the small Playhouse stage. And whilst the costumes by Tim Chappel are generally stylish and well-crafted, it is disappointing that the switches between the daughters (delineated by pink and blue) are so obvious. Yes, we know Goodwin is playing both roles but our suspension of disbelief is ruined if we can clearly see one dress under the other. But these are minor criticisms and things that can be easily fixed by director Dean Bryant.
Two Weddings, One Bride is a sweet treat that should delight its audiences throughout the chilly winter months.
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Two Weddings, One Bride
CREATED BY: Robert Andrew Greene
MUSIC DIRECTOR: Robert Andrew Greene
DIRECTOR: Dean Bryant
SET DESIGNER: Owen Phillips
COSTUME DESIGNER: Tim Chappel
LIGHTING DESIGNER: John Rayment
CHOREOGRAPHER: Andrew Hallsworth
ASSISTANT DIRECTOR: Sally Hare
GIROFLÉ / GIROFLA: Julie Lea Goodwin
PHILIPPE: John Bolton Wood
AURORE: Geraldine Turner
MARASQUIN: Nicholas Jones
GENERAL MODIGLIANI: Andrew Jones
PEDRO / CELEBRANT / FRANÇOIS / AUSTRALIAN COLONEL: David Lewis
PIANO: Robert Andrew Greene VIOLIN: Yuhki Mayne
Two Weddings, One Bride is at the Sydney Opera House Playhouse until October 22.
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What the stars mean?
- Five stars: Exceptional, unforgettable, a must see
- Four and a half stars: Excellent, definitely worth seeing
- Four stars: Accomplished and engrossing but not the best of its kind
- Three and a half stars: Good, clever, well made, but not brilliant
- Three stars: Solid, enjoyable, but unremarkable or flawed
- Two and half stars: Neither good nor bad, just adequate
- Two stars: Not without its moments, but ultimately unsuccessful
- One star: Awful, to be avoided
- Zero stars: Genuinely dreadful, bad on every level