Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Noye’s Fludde"

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note: entire contents copyright 2004 by Carl A. Rossi


by Benjamin Britten
directed by Patrick Swanson
musical direction by George Emlen

The Voice of God … John Langstaff
Noah … Paul Guttry
Mrs. Noye … Lynn Torgove
Sem … Dean Ebozue
Ham … Gabriel Paradis
Jaffett … John Arida
Mrs. Sem … Aliza Ritko
Mrs. Ham … Winta Hailem
Mrs. Jaffett … Gillian Chase
Gossips … Alison Howe; Victoria Mayne; Michelle Micciche; Clara Suh
Raven … Adian Dempsey
Dove … Fiona Wada-Gill
Chorus of Animals and Birds … children from Boston City Singers; Rvels Circle of Song; First Unitarian Society in Newton; Glen Urquhart School; Long School of Music; Shady Hill School


Recorders … Sonja Lindblad*; Jeremy Booher; Kendall Eifler; Austin Eifler; Asa Goodwillie; Ailish Kress; Jason Li; Corinna Matlis

Trumpets … Eddie Cora; Nathaniel Meyer; Hannah Recht; Peter Smith; Ari Stoler

Handbells … Cheryl Kraley*; Christohper Batty; Allison Bukys; Kate Rutila; Amanda Su; Holly Watson

Concertino Strings … Iman Khosrowpour (concertmaster violin 1); Benjamin Russell (violin 2); Colin Belisle (viola); Jing Li (cello); Carl Doty (double bass)

Ripieno Strings:

Violins … Julia Ariola; Jenifer Cho; Lisa Dunker; Ada Lin; Rebekah Lin; Claire-Marie Malroy-Camine; Victoria Mauro; Emily Saly; Bailey Scott; Murray Skolnik

Violas … Etienne Perlay

Cellos … Sarah Murphy

Double Bass … Garrett Murphy

Percussion … Abe Finch*; Steve Burroughs; Steven Danowitz; Abishek Rampuria; Robert Wilson

Piano … Megan Henderson; Ryan Vigil

Organ … Henry Lebedinsky

Strings Coordinator … Megan Fergusson, New England Conservatory of Music Preparatory School

Trumpet Coach … Eric Blackman
(* Adult section leaders)

If you listen to a recording of Benjamin Britten’s NOYE’S FLUDDE, his setting of the Chester miracle play, you may feel you’re seated next to Britannia with her spear, her shield and her lion --- NOYE’S FLUDDE needs to be seen on a stage for its full impact where it is a glorious blend of church parable and medieval theatre. Mr. Britten wrote his score for a combination of professional and amateur voices: bass-baritone for the reverent, patient Noye; contralto for the shrewish Mrs. Noye; a speaking actor for the commanding God; teen-agers for the roles of Noye’s sons and their wives and Mrs. Noye’s Gossips; and large numbers of children for the choruses of animals and birds trooping into the Ark. Mr. Britten’s stately music supports the rhyming libretto, half sung, half chanted, and there are lovely moments: the stormy orchestral interlude when all are at sea; plucks from the string section for the torrents scaling down to raindrops; the Raven’s droll dance; fluttering notes for the heralding Dove and, finally, the joyous procession out into a brave new world, rinsed clean.

Revels produced the work for two performances in an ideal setting, The First Church, Cambridge; the performance was a labor of love nursed along for almost a decade and it, too, was glorious, with the Ark being pieced together before our eyes and the ranks of children, carrying cutout heads of birds and beasts on sticks, swelling the aisles and sweeping the audience along in spirit, and a rainbow unfolding like a giant Technicolor fan when the Ark comes to rest on dry land. Mary Azarian and Seth Bodie garbed and painted the soloists to resemble black ink on white parchment; when all were aboard the Ark, their heads peeping over the side, the flattened tableau resembled the famous woodcut illustration for Sebastian Brandt’s THE SHIP OF FOOLS. Some of the younger soloists were incomprehensible but Paul Guttry (Noye) and Lynn Torgove (Mrs. Noye) were in full, flowing voice; John Langstaff’s Voice of God rang out impressively from the back balcony and Fiona Wada-Gill made an enchanting little Dove (a moving touch: Noye ended the evening by posting the Dove’s olive branch in his staff, lifting her up and following the others up the aisle). The Church’s acoustics, while not always kind to the singers, proved perfect for the surprisingly large orchestra tucked away, stage right: their sound was that of muted thunder, ever rolling in the distance but never threatening to drown the already deluged Noye, his family and his zoo.

May Revels sail their production back into the Boston area --- and soon. NOYE’S FLUDDE is a great Bible lesson and one of those perfect introductions to theatre for the young (and even old), on both sides of the footlights --- provided it is seen as well as heard. Again, a recording doesn’t do it justice.

"Noye’s Fludde" (5-6 March)
First Church, 11 Garden Street, CAMBRIDGE, MA
1 (617) 972-8300 ext. 22

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England’s LIVE Theater Guide