Opera della Luna at the Civic Theatre
No-one could accuse Opera della Luna of playing a straight Bat. This hot-off-the-press re-write, by Jeff Clarke, who also directed and played piano in the pit, bigs up the filthy language, soft-pedals the frocks and frou-frou.
Alfie, the heart-throb tenor [Gareth Dafydd Morris] spends much of his time in his boxer shorts, and wows his married lover [Mrs E from Down Under, brilliantly played, and sung, by Lisa Anne Robinson] with that other lyric populist, Andrew Lloyd Webber. And a laddish Eisenstein [Andy Morton] goes into rehab instead of jail.
The production was fresh and funny. There was furniture flying from the ceiling, there were polar bears at Orlofsky's. A constant stream of in-jokes, especially in the audition scene, kept us amused. And most importantly, Strauss's music was lovingly respected by the superb singers. In addition to those I've named already, we had that supreme Savoyard Simon Butteriss as an outrageous Prince, Helen Massey as a no-nonsense Northern Adele, and Philip Cox as Frank. His French double act with Morton was priceless, especially the Crazy Gang audience invasion which replaced the usual Frosch fun and games at the top of the Third Act.
Just the thing to bring new audiences to operetta, you might think. But at the Civic, at least, Opera della Luna, seemed to be playing to Fledermaus fans …