A co-production with Toronto’s Canadian Stage Company and Tapestry Opera
The Overcoat - A Musical Tailoring
music by James Rolfe, Libretto by Morris Panych

Dates and Venue April 28 & 29, May 4, 9, 10, 11, & 12 at 7:30pm & May 2, 5, & 6 at 2pm, 2018 | Vancouver Playhouse

Conductor Leslie Dala Director Morris Panych Set Designer Ken MacDonald Costumer Designer Nancy Bryant Movement Wendy Gorling Lighting Designer Alan Brodie Assistant Director Jessica Derventzis Stage Manager Kate Porter

Akakiy Geoffrey Sirett Landlady Andrea Ludwig Mad Chorus 1 Magali Simard-Galdes Mad Chorus 2 Caitlin Wood Mrs. P / Mar Chorus 3 Erica Iris Huang Petrovich Peter McGillivray Mokiya Keith Klassen Sossiya : Aaron Durand Khodozat Giles Tomkins Stage Manager Asitha Tennekoon

Sung in English with English SURTITLES TM

Reviewer John Jane

The Overcoat - A Musical Tailoring is an operatic adaptation of Morris Panych and Wendy Gorling’s non-verbal pièce de theatre, which itself was inspired by Nikolai Gogol's 1842 novella also titled The Overcoat. Just like the original, and perhaps even more so with the Panych and Gorling recreation, this black comedy is a compelling study of human behaviour.

Despite his ostentatious handle, Akakiy Akakiyevich Bashmatchkin (Geoffrey Sirett) is a nondescript book-keeper leading a rather mundane existence. That is until one day at the urging of his tailor Petrovich (Peter Mcgillivray) he decides to invest in a brand new elegant outer garment. Where before, he had been the object of derision, he suddenly found that his new duds altered both his persona and social life. However his moment in the limelight was short-lived. When trying to navigate his way home whilst in a drunken stupor, he was waylaid by a couple of thugs and his cherished new overcoat was snatched by a ‘lady of the night.’

Baritone Geoffrey Sirett turns in a befittingly quirky performance as the ill-fated Akakiy, whose curious disposition of hypernumeracy gifts him a professional advantage, yet eventually becomes his undoing. His colleagues mistrust his fixation with numbers in the collective amusing aria “No one likes a diligent man” (do the minimum that you can).

This Vancouver Opera Festival production of The Overcoat - A Musical Tailoring is exquisitely staged and beautifully performed. The orchestra under the leadership of Maestro Leslie Dala interpreted James Rolfe’s unfamiliar score as if it were au fait. “Head of the department” and “Host of the party” both seemed like they may have been borrowed from Gilbert and Sullivan.

Outside of the protagonist role, the production is essentially an ensemble piece with all the cast taking equal responsibility for the opera’s success. However, a special kudo goes to soprano Meher Pavri, who makes her exposure to Bharat Natyam dance count in a delightfully coquettish reading of the secretary. Mezzo soprano Andrea Ludwig acquitted herself well as Akakiy’s wanton landlady. She gets to sing one of the few solo arias in the show that discepts the flummeries of outward appearance.

Ken MacDonald’s set together with Alan Brodie’s lighting combine to create what is at times a surreal framework and ambience. Nancy Bryant’s clothing brings another element of quality to the production.

At a few minutes under two hours (including a twenty minute intermission), it’s short when compared to full scale classical operas, audiences leave the auditorium with time to visit the Festival Opera Bar.

© 2018 John Jane