Trial by Jury is a new take on an old Gilbert and Sullivan original with additional material by Alison Hodge
After many online rehearsals, the newly formed Light Opera Company of Khandallah, Johnsonville And Western Suburbs (The LOCKJAWS), are finally meeting in person their new director, the great New Zealand diva, Miss Cynthia Fortitude – on the day of their first performance.
Half the cast have gone missing… no one can find the costumes…. and it's show time.
Director Miss Fortitude does her best to rally the troops, but compromises will have to be made.
What follows is a lively rendition of Gilbert and Sullivan's shortest opera, with all the songs and all the music but a decidedly modern "look".
Written and directed by Alison Hodge with musical direction by Michael Vinten, Helen Moulder stars as her alter ego Miss Cynthia Fortitude, the long-suffering director of this eccentric collection of players.
You'll love the music, you'll laugh at the antics... and you'll kick yourself if you miss it.
"The music is so witty and the words are highly original and very clever - we didn't want to tamper with that too much," says Hodge.
"But there's no escaping the fact that this Gilbert and Sullivan operetta is 147 years old.
"We wanted to downplay some of the dated content and old-fashioned attitudes by creating a more contemporary feel and adding a NZ context.
"Using this well-intentioned but bumbling group of performers adds another layer to the satire.
"It also enabled us to get rid of some of the theatrical trappings that so often overpower the singing in traditional productions of Gilbert and Sullivan."
Music director Michael Vinten agrees.
"We decided to have just a pianist to accompany the singers," he says.
"Robyn Jacquiery is the perfect choice for this.
"Her sensitive playing really lets the voices shine and you hear things that are normally buried when there's an orchestra between the audience and the singers.
"It means we can put the audience much closer to the action and make them more like participants than distant viewers.
"We want to make the music and humour of Gilbert and Sullivan work for a modern audience. This format is ideal for that."
As well as performing in the role of the LOCKJAWS' new director, Moulder was a key participant in the creation of the story-line.
She and Vinten have worked together before, and he thought of her immediately when the company was considering what their new approach to Trial by Jury could be.
Moulder has frequently performed as her alter-ego Cynthia Fortitude.
"Cynthia fits in perfectly with the LOCKJAWS.
"She is my clown – quite ridiculous, bossy, forgetful, easily distracted and with an over-inflated view of her own talent. I love being Cynthia and I'm having a lovely time playing her again."
Trial by Jury, Globe Theatre, December 6, 2.30pm and 5pm.
Bookings via www.wellingtonlightopera.nz
Raumati: Te Raukura ki Kāpiti, December 5, 1pm and 4pm.