While this is a deserved revival of an intriguing show, the core material remains in some respects unsatisfactory, and the scale of the show is not a great fit with the location. If this sounds churlish, then that is only because in musical theatre – as in opera – for the whole to succeed to best advantage the list of parts that need to be in great shape is a long and exacting one.
The key is truthfulness: the men play the female roles as truthfully as they can, in the context of the show, and by doing so, unlock different energies and synergies. Just as audiences roared at Mark Rylance’s Olivia in Twelfth Night, not because he was a man playing a woman, but because his so doing simply provided a different palette of choices, so too, in Regan’s productions, they roar at the antics as the men bring fresh perspective to some of Gilbert and Sullivan’s most loved and enduring characters and situations.
With direction from Michael Burgen, musical direction from Bryan Hodgson, and choreography by Matt Kazan, this version of Loserville sparkles with enthusiastic effervescence, combining familiar comic stereotypes with excellent ensemble singing and dancing, and giving some excellent performers a chance to shine, all the while emphasising the inherent gifts provided by book, score and lyrics.