Ever notice that a community theatre production — where the sets and costumes are kinda cheesy and so are most of the performances — can often be more enjoyable than a Broadway hit?
I saw just such a show last night — called “the Australian Mikado” — and despite a few mistarts and off notes, it was four-star fun.
And it was presented in one of my favourite places on the planet — the Haskell Free Library/Opera House. This century-old building straddles the Quebec/Vermont border. It has a wood-panelled, stained-glass-windowed library downstairs and a beautifully restored mini-opera house (complete with balcony section) upstairs.
A line of black tape on the library (and opera house) floor delineates the border and if visitors from each country park and enter on their respective sides, they don’t need to visit customs/immigration. A very special place that I wish I could visit (and support) more often.
This production of The Mikado was wacky and slapstick and definitely played for laughs. The cast was largely made up of performing arts students and one of the youngest of the chorus was a real standout. This little guy was so committed to his role, even if the stage was full, you couldn’t help but single him out to see what he was up to. Whether it was karate kicks, song and dance group numbers or pratfalls, he threw himself into his role and was completely entertaining.
I’m usually too shy to approach complete strangers to give them compliments (and I often regret later that I didn’t), but this time I wanted to make an extra effort to let him know what a good job he’d done.
I got my chance after the show while the still-costumed cast stood outside surrounded by friends and family. I put my reservations aside, approached this little guy and told him how much my husband and I had enjoyed his performance. He looked a little surprised (he was only in the chorus after all) but seemed pleased. (His mom looked even more pleased!)
So no regrets … this time.