For its fall production this weekend, Brown University Gilbert and Sullivan is offering up a dynamic array of dancing and singing in "The Gondoliers."
A two-act comic operetta, "The Gondoliers" is set in Venice and revolves around the story of two gondoliers who believe themselves to be brothers. It is revealed that one of the pair is the surviving heir to the fantastical kingdom of Barataria, lost during infancy, and has been engaged since birth to a beautiful Spanish lady — but no one knows which gondolier is the prince and which is the pauper.
The production benefits from a carefully constructed and wonderfully painted stage. Characterized by a tranquil combination of light-hearted periwinkle blue and sand color in Act I, it recalls the beauty of Venice. The set is appropriately transformed to a royal look in Act II as the two gondoliers move to Barataria to reign.
The chorus — portraying flirty farm-girls, twirling in a profusion of colors from the flutters of their skirts, and jubilant gondoliers — is featured throughout the show. Also entertaining are the beautiful lady of Spain and her family, characters who produce gushes of laughter from the audience.
According to musical director Matthew Jaroszewicz '12, composer Arthur Sullivan tried to write music that would evoke the sounds of the countries in which his operettas were set. The score imitates characteristically Italian music, and Jaroszewicz described it as "exuberant, well-composed, very beautiful and happy and uplifting all the time."
"I've been studying Italian for seven or eight years and this show caught my attention," said director Michael Hogan '11, who described the music as "exuberant and shining."
"I never thought I would be doing this before," said Hogan, who is directing a musical for the first time. "It taught me more than any class I've (taken) at Brown, with all the acting, building the sets, everything."
"It's a challenge for whoever directs," said stage manager Peter Hatch '11. "It's great material but was written a hundred years ago. To bring out the humor is a great challenge."
Another challenge, Hatch said, was the difficulty of removing and putting the set back up in Alumnae Hall when other events were being held there.
"If we had our own space, it would've been easier," he said.
The cast includes both newcomers and BUGS veterans in an environment that is "very welcoming," Hogan said.
"We've had a lot of fun," Hogan added. With every rehearsal of the show, "we find it more funny," he said. "We get big laughs, watching each other on stage."
Hogan said he hopes that the audience will find the play "hilarious" as well.
"The Gondoliers" runs this weekend in Alumnae Hall with performances tonight at 8 p.m., tomorrow at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sun. at 3 p.m. Admission is free.