Reviewed by Lesley Reed
Directed by Pam Tucker, with musical direction by Helen Loveday, SALOS’s production of Phil Park and Conrad Carter’s version of Johann Strauss’ The Gypsy Baron is buoyed by an enthusiastic cast. However, despite some quality singing, many performances are let down by poor acting skills.
On opening night Noel Carthew stood out as the pig-farming mayor of Zrinyi. Katrin Treloar’s soaring voice brought a new level of quality to the musical numbers in her role as Saffi, the gypsy princess. As Mirabella, Joy Bishop was excellent, but others in the cast confused melodramatic over-acting with vivaciousness and some had a stiff, self-conscious stage presence. James Murphy was disappointing in the role of the young count, Sandor Barinkay. His singing voice was pleasant but he rarely looked directly at Saffi, the girl he was meant to adore. Instead, he appeared listless and uncomfortable. Christine Southby is a strong and competent singer as Arletta, but is older than the role requires. Sandra Fameli and David Roberts struggled with lines in their respective roles as the gypsy queen and Graf Peter Homonoy. This resulted in slumps in pace and energy. As Otto, Matthew Holding was energetic and amusing. Greg Paterson began well in the role of Count Kareska but his manic laugh reduced the character into melodrama as the story progressed.
Musical numbers included a well-received rendition of “Money, Money, Money” and a joyful presentation of “When Vienna Sings”. Ellen Fogarty and Mollie Beck did well as featured dancers.
SALOS is blessed with some dedicated, strong singers and much enthusiasm but would do well to instigate acting workshops to enhance the skills of its regulars.