Gallantry: A Code Blue Capital Fringe Emergency
The Dresser has something hot to recommend to anyone who has been thinking about seeing his or her first opera. Run, don't saunter, only a few performance left, to the Capital Fringe Festival's offering Gallantry: A Soap Opera by composer Douglas Moore with libretto by Arnold Sungaard.
This 30-minute production from Opera Alterna and Limelight Theatre has substantial singer-actors, including a standout performance by baritone James Rogers as Dr. Gregg. Soprano Emily Casey as nurse Lola does a fine job as an outrageous sexpot who stays loyal to her fiancé Donald (tenor Tad Czyzewski). Lola has to beat back Dr. Gregg who is smitten with her and Lola fears that when Donald lands on the jealous doctor's operating table for appendicitis that Dr. Gregg might let the scalpel slip.
Indeed this is a soap opera with pauses for the vampy Announcer (mezzo-soprano Rebecca Stugart) to promote something called Lachinvar Soap and Billy Boy Wax. She has the help of three charming dancers (Rachel Burkhardt, Anna Lathrop, and Alison Talvacchio) who are eager to steal some of the Announcer's show time. Alison Talvacchio's choreography captivates as well as entertains.
So often Fringe productions are just thrown together. Not so for this production. A good deal of praise goes to the stage director A. M. C. Clapp. The costumes and props are eye-catching - the Announcer wears a strapless, sparkling green dress with red shoes and tucks a silver flask into her bosom. Lola wears lacy pink panties with garters that hold up her nurse's white stockings and a little white sheath that covers almost nothing. In the operation scene, Lola and Dr. Gregg wear rose pink andhot pink rubber gloves. The production gives us singers who not only deliver vocally but dramatically. Their gestures, camped up for Moore's soap spoof, are on target. The audience gets the big eyes, the looks down Lola's décolleté, the glimpse of Donald's bare bottom from the crack in his hospital gown. All of this to say, Ms. Clapp deserves the applause her name implies. And kudos to the accompanist Jason Solounias for his vigorous run on the ivories.
The Dresser walked out of the black box theater, which was accessed off a trash strewn street and parking lot, thinking how she would love to see Douglas Moore's The Ballad of Baby Doe (there are musical similarities between Gallantry and Baby Doe) or any of Moore's seven other operas.
In Ian Williams' poem "Code Blue: Medical Emergency (Adult)," the reader, like the audience for Gallantry, gets a glimpse of a possible murder. What the Dresser particularly likes about this poem is the poet's emphasis on pop culture, which tracks with Gallantry's commercials for Lachinvar Soap and Billy Boy Wax.
CODE BLUE: MEDICAL EMERGENCY (ADULT)
...........Folks like us, we
don't get assassinated, we
He dreams of it / many times / being shot
in balck and white like a classy gansta film.
I'm in the dream too, jumbo-sized,
bawling after the gurney, bawling down
the hospital corridor like a Doppler siren.
The rest of the plot is what you'd see on TV:
IVs trhead him whole again
.................................................to exact revenge
with a slow-motion frown and a semicircle
of fire sparking from his gun.
.................................................That's what he wants--
that and his name like an ice cube in everyone's cheek:
Did you see? Did you see how he iced that punk? how he--
Respect, he call this smiling. Nuff respect.
You Know Who You Are
Copyright © 2010 Ian Williams
Photos: Karren L. Alenier