Havant Light Opera’s summer offering is the darkest of the Gilbert and Sullivans. The score is less frivolous than the lighter Savoys, but is clearly first-cousin to its immediate predecessor, Ruddigore, in which both libretto and score are moving away from the lightness of their earlier work.
Cathy Hales’s production is well-intentioned and well-dressed, but there’s a lack of energy in the company. No G&S should run for nearly three hours as this did on opening night.
The women outshine the men in both acting and vocals. Amanda Lunt is a personable Phoebe but her pleasant and engaging mezzo voice needs more volume. Polly Honeychurch’s alto works nicely as Dame Carruthers but Jane Marett’s easy, pool-of-honey soprano, soars above everything else on the stage.
Of the men, Oliver Embourne’s Jack Point has the most focus and more self-confidence from Embourne would take this performance the extra mile.
The ensemble is enthusiastic but seemed uncertain at times, missing cues.
And if you’re going to charge people money to go and see your work, have the good grace to know your lines; the voice of the prompter was heard far too often on opening night. But there was nice work from music-director Ben Lathbury and pianist Phil Holland. Until Saturday.