and green garlands with the simple dance

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and green garlands with the simple dance
and green garlands with the simple dance
maneuvers. While we swayed, the men
began their singing rehearsal in another
part of the hall, and detecting some superb songsters I craned my neck to pinpoint the talent. I later met Justin Gavel
and Russell Storer, who play the romantic leads of Marco and Guiseppe to their
female counterparts Gianetta and Tessa,
played by Caroline Whalen and Jen Mealiea. I stepped aside while the men joined
the women for more choreography and
hid behind my camera lens. Finally, men
and women brought their voices together
and I truly felt the operetta come alive. I
didn’t want the evening to end.
The N.S. Society, which has enjoyed a
35-year history, celebrated recently with
an evening of song, trivia games, and delightful reminiscing. As founding member Susan Woodbury noted, “We have
created a tremendous group of lifelong
friends.” She added, by way of honouring
friends lost, “We cherish their memories
and contributions to the society.” Susan
joined three other honorary life members:
Shirley Beckman, Ray Grant, and Mike
Hodgson to cut the anniversary cake.
Brian King, longtime participant and
MC of the gala event, said that David
Packer has “in
the short term
made a big impact,” adding that this
will be the
second show he
has directed
here. David is
a relative
newcomer to the
local Society scene but brings
enthusiasm, imagination,
and years
of Gilbert and Sullivan experience.
David’s
father
played Yum-Yum
(the female lead
role!) in The Mikado at the age
of ten, so the music of Gilbert and Sullivan is
truly in his blood. He also tells me he
“met and fell in love with a little fairy
on stage left,” his wife Tanya. Apparently, it is not unusual for romances to
blossom amongst Society members.
The Gondoliers will be performed in
Halifax and around the province this
spring. Visit www.gandsnovascotia.ca/
tickets/ for more details. Check out a performance – you never
know, you may even
be inspired to audition next year!
Stage Director David Parker.
Photo: Jan Napier.
Cast members (L-R) Caroline Whalen, Justin Gavel, Russell Storer, and Jen Mealiea. Photo: Jan Napier.
How to be a Gondolier, Tra la
An evening with the Gilbert and Sullivan Society
By Jan Napier
D
avid Packer, stage director for the
upcoming production of the Nova
Scotia Gilbert and Sullivan Society’s The Gondoliers, is a man who thinks
outside the box. When he invited me
(with reporter’s hat donned) to take part
in a cast rehearsal, to sing and dance and
experience the fun from the inside out, I
didn’t hesitate. I was not unfamiliar with
their lavish productions and this was an
opportunity that could not be missed.
It would appear that inclusivity is a
Society philosophy. Although auditions
are required, they are somewhat of a formality. As long as you can sing, and ide | Southender Magazine | March 2012
ally read music, you are likely to be welcomed to join in on the excitement with
this amateur theatre group. In the tradition of enthusiasts around the world, the
comic operettas of Victorian duo William
S. Gilbert and Sir Arthur Sullivan live on
in Nova Scotia.
Not that I wasn’t intimidated; I knew
that the talent would be outstanding. But
like many of us who grew up with the
great Halifax City Music Schools Program, I wasn’t shy of a musical background. Any fears were quickly allayed
when I was warmly welcomed, handed
my book for the night, and directed to the
alto section amongst the female cast. The
men had yet to arrive. The joy was almost
palpable, with cast members paying close
attention to the adept musical direction
provided by Jenny Trites, who amazed
me with her young confidence, born out
of choral direction abilities. Yoko Nishiguchi provided piano accompaniment.
We broke away to test a few dance
moves under the guidance of show choreographer, Jolene Pattison, with a pep
talk on exaggerating movements so that
all audience members would catch the nuances of the story. David and Jolene demonstrated the playful use of red, white,
Southender Magazine | March 2012 | 

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