by Paula Citron.
Earnest, The Importance of Being
Toronto Operetta Theatre
Composed by Victor Davies
Libretto by Eugene Benson
Conducted by Jeffrey Huard
Directed by Guillermo Silva-Marin
Starring Robert Long, Laird MacKintosh, Mia Lennox-Williams, Deanna Hendriks and Barbara Barsky
At Jane Mallett Theatre
A new Canadian music work is a significant event, and the charming chamber operetta Earnest, The Importance of Being, inspired by Oscar Wilde’s play, should have a shelf life. Composed by Victor Davies with a libretto by Eugene Benson, the operetta is filled with humable melodies and clever lyrics.
The leading men were terrific, while the women were iffy. Baritone Robert Longo as Jack Worthing and tenor Laird MacKintosh as Algernon Moncrieff, being men of music theatre, were perfect in their roles and diction. Mezzo-soprano Mia Lennox-Williams as Gwendolyn could not get around her opera high-pitched speaking voice. Perky soprano Deanna Hendricks as Cecily had better luck crossing the gap. Barbara Barsky didn’t have the necessary stature as Lady Bracknell. Jeffrey Huard’s enthusiastic conducting saved the day.
There are a lot of echoes in Davies’ music to operetta, opera and Broadway composers which could either be classed as an homage or being derivative. Nonetheless, in the right hands, this show could sparkle.
Photo credit: Gilberto Prioste
(Soprano Deanna Hendriks as Cecily Cardew and tenor Laird Mackintosh as Algernon Moncrieff)