Returning to the Savoyaires stage for the first time in nearly two decades, Gilbert & Sullivan’s “Ruddigore” does for ghosts what “The Pirates of Penzance” does for pirates. Subtitled “The Witch’s Curse,” “Ruddigore” is the Evanston company’s 54th annual G&S production.
Directing the production is Kingsley Day, who as a performer has starred in 17 Savoyaires productions, playing the lead patter-baritone role in all 14 G&S operettas.
Joining him are resident music director Timothy Semanik, conductor of the Salt Creek Chamber Orchestra and the Bradley University Orchestra, returning for his 11th consecutive show as conductor of the 30-piece Savoyaires orchestra; set designer Jessica Howe and Jeff-winning costume designer Tom Kieffer, whose work was seen in the company’s critically acclaimed 2015 production of H.M.S. Pinafore; lighting designer Linda Bugielski, returning for her third show with the company; and resident producer Laima Day, returning for her 15th year.
Sir Despard Murgatroyd (Dafydd Mac an Leigh, center) thwarts the wedding of Rose Maybud (Sally Olson) and Robin Oakapple (Aaron Petrovich).
The protagonist of Ruddigore, Robin Oakapple, harbors a terrible secret. He’s really Sir Ruthven Murgatroyd and should have inherited his family’s hereditary curse: to commit a crime a day or perish in agony.
But he has disguised himself as a simple farmer, leaving his younger brother Despard to inherit the curse as Baronet of Ruddigore.
Robin’s deception is discovered, and he’s forced to assume the title, but when his daily “crimes” prove all too innocent, the ghosts of his ancestors emerge from their portrait frames in one of the most arresting scenes in all of Gilbert & Sullivan.
Highlights of the tuneful and inventive score include the spooky “When the Night Wind Howls” and the fiendishly difficult Ruddigore Trio patter song.
Robin Oakapple (Aaron Petrovich) is horrified to see that Old Adam Goodheart (Lane Halverson) has abducted Dame Hannah (Jennifer Barrett).
Performances will be held at the Chute School Auditorium, 1400 Oakton St., at 7:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, Oct. 5, 6, 12 and 13, and at 3 p.m. on Sundays, Oct. 7 and 14.
Tickets are $29/24/19 ($24/19/14 for ages 12 and under) and may be purchased by phone at 847-563-0155, online at www.savoyaires.org/tickets, or by mail from Savoyaires, P.O. Box 126, Evanston, IL 60204.
The Savoyaires are partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency.