|Nour Malek as Mad Margaret
McGill Savoy Society’s Ruddigore filled with whimsy
by Valerie Cardinal
The McGill Savoy Society’s production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Ruddigore is worth seeing for the amount of work that obviously went into it. The premise is complex; long ago, the baronets of Ruddigore were cursed. If the holder of the title does not commit a crime everyday, he dies in agony. One of the future baronets, Ruthven Murgatroyd, ran away and disguised himself as a farmer, leaving his brother Despard to take his place. When Ruthven falls in love with the fair Rose Maybud, his foster brother Richard reveals Ruthven’s identity to get the girl himself, forcing the baronet to assume his title and appease his ghostly ancestors.In fact, the word I would use for this entire production is whimsical; sets and costumes are bursting with quirk.
Jackson Smith and Nour Malek make for a Burton-esque pair as Sir Despard Murgatroyd and his lady Mad Margaret. In fact, the word I would use for this entire production is whimsical; sets and costumes are bursting with quirk. Especially notable are Rose’s adorable crooked house, the paintings in Ruddigore Castle and the bright dresses of the chorus of professional bridesmaids. Matthew John McKeown as Sir Ruthven Murgatroyd came into his own in the second act, when his character’s identity is revealed. When the curse, top hat, cane and enormous moustache were passed on, he was amusing as a man trying to live up to being a bad baronet and failing miserably.
Julia Miller as Rose Maybud owned the stage with her loud soprano. However, Nour Malek made up for weaker pipes by throwing herself into the character of Mad Margaret, which was a delight to see with Jackson Smith’s charmingly dastardly Despard. Michael Loewen played his Richard Dauntless as a mariner who is well-meaning but rather dim.
Although the live orchestra added texture and richness to the opera, it sometimes drowned out the actors onstage. This was especially a problem with Gilbert and Sullivan’s fast-paced, tongue-twister-like lyrics, which the actors sometimes struggled with. However, the cast’s unwavering energy shows that they really did put a lot of effort into Ruddigore.
Approximate run time: 2h45