Trial by Jury at Hubbard Hall
Short but Sweet
By: Chris Buchanan - Aug 29, 2013
This new production of the Hubbard Hall Opera Theater’s Trial by Jury is set on the proscenium in
a 1971 groovy coral tinted courtroom.
Director Paul Sigrist takes this classic vignette and dolls it up in a way that might take some Gilbert
and Sullivan aficionados by surprise. But I kid you not when I say that I nearly fell off the bleachers
laughing at the bridesmaids, four flirtatious Cockney Valley Girls, and a judge in blue-tinted John
Lennon sunglasses, cigarette in hand.
Part musical, part opera, this production is a good blend of both, featuring hilarious dance numbers
and strong voices that have no need of amplification to be heard. Trial by Jury is the “second-stage”
show in this summer’s line-up at Hubbard Hall. What this means is that the cover artists, chorus
members and conservatory students who participate in the mainstage production of “Barber of
Seville” have their chance to shine here and they do not disappoint. There are no supertitles
floating on the projector above the stage, and at first this was disappointing since there is so much
wit stuffed into the lyrics of any G&S show. However, it is obvious that these young singers worked
hard under the guidance of musical director Nadine Kulberg. I was able to understand almost every
word and a good thing too, because to have been concentrating on reading projected lyrics would
have taken me away of the pinstriped mismatched spectacle of the stage.
The story is pure farce, think Judge Judy meets Tony and Tina’s wedding. We, as the audience, feel a
part of the performance as if we were in a real circus courtroom watching a jilted bride (Angelina)
bring a complaint against her wayward fiancé on what would have been her wedding day.
The jury consists of five men who fill the hall and your hearts with their rousing voices in four part harmony. They cavort around the stage in glee at the prospect of trying the “monster” defendant sung by tenor, Leslie Tay. Mr. Tay was a standout of the afternoon, with a clear and crisp voice and easy graceful movement on the crowded stage. And Vanessa Rodriguez, who arrives on the scene shortly after the bedraggled hired bridesmaids have their raucous opening number, shone as the ingénue with the soaring and graceful soprano voice made all the more dazzling by comparison. Siddharth Dubey of the Eastman School of Music embodies the sleazy lawyer perfectly and has a voice that will be going on to do some big roles.
Unlike the mainstage production, Trial by Jury is accompanied by piano which in turn makes the prices entirely affordable. The entire production came in at about forty minutes, but each minute was well spent.
Trial by Jury ( a pay what you will production) played August 17 and 18 at 2pm and August 23 and 24 at 8pm.