Theatre Review: Tarantara! Tarantara!

It takes a talented cast to perform this piece that combines acting, singing and movement skills at a very high level

Presented by The Gilbert & Sullivan Society of South Australia

Reviewed 27 April 2022

Tarantara! Tarantara! is 47 years old. First produced in 1975 at The Bristol Old Vic before transferring to the west End, it is a beautifully constructed piece of theatre with book, music and lyrics by Ian Taylor using the songs of Gilbert and Sullivan that delves into a very effective examination of the relationship between W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan. Yes they both got knighted, but that comes later, and was also a bone of contention in their relationship.

It takes a talented cast to perform this piece that combines acting, singing and movement skills at a very high level. Richard Trevaskis has assembled a cast of exceptionally talented local artists to bring this story to life. Led by Nicholas Bishop (W.S. Gilbert), Paul Briske (Arthur Sullivan) and Andrew Crispe (Richard D’Oyly Carte), the cast take us through the highs and lows of Gilbert and Sullivan’s stormy journey from their first meeting, their relationship with D’oyly Carte, to parting ways over a carpet, in a roller coaster ride of situations and characters that at times left you full of wonderment! These three men take charge of the story and run with it aided and abetted by the multi-tasking ensemble.

The ensemble of talented performers played multiple roles, with multiple accents, clarity and purpose and keen and sensitive interpretation of the story that Trevaskis, and Christine Hodgen (Musical Director), have coaxed and cajoled out of them that gave them the confidence to make their job look so easy. Nicholas Munday, Megan Doherty, Hazel Green, Grace Carter (who stepped very competently into a leading role on opening night), James Nicholson, Suriya Umapthysivam, and Anthony Little added strength, purpose and clarity to the story and brought to life some of G & S’s canon of work seamlessly and with a healthy dose of tongue in cheek chutzpah!

It is really unfair to pick out outstanding performances from this talented (yes I already said that) ensemble of actors but Bishop, Briske and Crispe shine in this genre and Megan Doherty’s abandon and fine voice stand out in the women’s ensemble. Crispe did nearly steal the show with his cape but I think he might have been pursued by a couple of other actors in hot pursuit of a theatre award!

Tim De Jong and Vanessa Lee Shirley’s set design is pure Victoriana in style and colouring and was a flexible and playful space for the actors to utilise. Helen and Ariana Snowswell’s costumes were of the period and very well judged for the many changes required of all the performers. Look out for the hat that upstages everyone! It took four people to coordinate the props (Anne Doherty, Hazel Green, Trevor Green and Tim Blackshaw) an epic and flawless job. Richard Parkhill’s lighting was, as always, intuitive and supported the journey. Bit of a dream team by the look of the outstanding production values.

If I have a complaint it is in the actor’s use of sound reinforcement. Please remember it is reinforcement and requires a decent amount of signal for the operator to make you heard. It’s sound reinforcement, not a sound cushion! There were several times in the evening that no matter how talented a sound engineer you had, they had no hope of making you heard. It doesn’t matter how good you sound in the bathroom; a solid articulate voice gives the operator a signal to work with and us all the information and we don’t need to guess!

I hope the G & S Society get a really good turnout to see this show, it’s a little ripper! If you love G & S you’ll love the show. The play is peppered with old favourites and a few unexpected gems. If you don’t know who G & S are it’s time you found out, and this show is a great introduction to the work of two exceptionally talented and famous practitioners who really wrote satirical masterpieces that can only be described as the music theatre of their time.

It is a fun, informative and very well written piece of theatre with music, a lot of very good music that adds to, and tells a story. So get yourself down to the Arts Theatre in Angus Street and take all your friends along. It’s really good fun and you’ll find out about the carpet!

Reviewed by Adrian Barnes

Venue: The Arts Theatre

Season: Until 30 April 2022

Duration: 2 hours 40 mins (including interval)

Tickets: $23 – $45

Bookings: www.gandssa.com.au or 8447 7239

Photo Credit: Ahsan Qureshi – Proshots

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