Fizzing performances in Pink Champagne

The cast of the Pink Champagne at the Adam Smith Theatre
The cast of the Pink Champagne at the Adam Smith Theatre
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Kirkcaldy Gilbert and Sullivan Society (KGASS) took the town by storm with their delightful production of Pink Champagne at the Adam Smith Theatre last week.

It was a show full of ever popular Strauss music, amazing performances and altogether a great evening’s entertainment.

Audiences were treated to magnificent principal voices and a good backing chorus.

Pink Champagne, which is an adaptation of Die Fledermaus with more involvement of chorus, contains some of the very best of operetta including the famous Laughing Song and Brother Mine, and KGASS certainly did not disappoint.

The chorus was strong and presented a very fine blend of voices. They both sang and acted well throughout the performance. Extremely strong principals complemented them, some of them new to the society.

Frances Taylor, as Rosalinda, displayed an awesome talent in this demanding role. Her strong soprano voice coupled with great acting ability, especially as the masked Hungarian where she managed to maintain an authentic accent throughout, was a joy to watch.

Her husband, Gabriel Eisenstein, played by Robin Ozog was equally powerful. Kirkcaldy audiences always enjoy Robin’s wonderful voice and clear diction, and he played his part to perfection. Robin also directed this production, as he has done with the society for some years, and his humour and insight shone through in every scene.

Andreas Ottenberg, as Alfred the lovesick opera singer, was extremely amusing in this role. He obviously revelled in this comedic part and the audience enjoyed his beautiful tenor voice. Unfortunately, the microphone seemed to be slightly faulty at times which detracted from his performance.

Adele, the maid, played by Erin Sammutt, was well cast and her high soprano voice in the Laughing Song was much appreciated by the audience. She acted this demanding part extremely well.

Mark Adams excelled in the role of Frank, the Governor of the gaol. His flamboyant performance seemed to be thoroughly enjoyed by the audience and really brought the character to a comedic ’larger than life’, especially in the drunken gaol scene in the final act.

Dr Falke, the eponymous bat in the title of the original opera, was nicely underplayed by Ross Main, quietly plotting his revenge on Eisenstein for pushing him into a fountain after a fancy dress ball, the various threads woven together against the background of Prince Orlovsky’s Pink Champagne Party.

The song ‘Brother Mine’, starting as a solo by Ross then building through the other principals and finally the chorus, was a highlight of the evening and would have done any choral society proud.

The contralto voice of Prince Orlovsky was played with aplomb by Caroline Warburton. Her precise diction and fine voice came over very well to the audience.

Mention must be made of the lawyer, Dr Blind, played by Douglas Kerr. Although appearing only twice on stage, the demanding trio with Gabriel and Rosalinda was extremely well sung.

There were several smaller parts - Mitzi, a maid, was well played by Amanda Gear. Her diction was very clear and she acted well. Of the three girls from the’ Corps de Ballet’, Hale Denholm, playing the part of Ida was noticeably strong in both voice and action – one to look out for in the future.

Lia Penman as Lea and Amy Sharman as Lilli were well cast and both fitted convincingly into the plot, although lacking a little in strength of delivery. The girls looked very good in their costumes and the polka scene with Gabriel and Frank was particularly eye catching.

Frosch, the drunken gaoler, played by Stuart Brown was very convincing. The scene in the prison with the male chorus was very well acted by all. There were occasions when it was slightly hard to hear what Frosch was saying in his drunken undertone, but this perhaps was more realistic.

Small parts as Ivan and Holtzapfel, played by William Dickson and Robert Peebles were well delivered.

Mention must also be made of the Wine Bar scene in the Trauber Café. Eleanor Hubbard was well cast as Frau Trauber, and this short scene was notable not just for Eleanor’s powerful soprano voice, but also for Andreas’s acting ability, and very impressive chorus backing.

This was a long show with two intervals, but thoroughly enjoyable. The scenery was effective in all acts, with plenty of room on stage for movement of chorus and principals, which was done to good effect. The attractive period costumes complemented the set beautifully.

We have come to expect high musical standards under the baton of John Howden and this production did not disappoint. He brought out the full joy of Strauss’s fine waltzes and polkas without overpowering the singing on stage, and the overall effect was strong and impressive when the full company was singing along with this fine orchestra.

This is a company whose members clearly enjoy working together, and it shines through in their performance. We look forward to their next production.

(All pictures by George McLuskie)