Ivor Novello’s Perchance to Dream opened in London in April 1945. It’s fluffy, romantic and nostalgic. It has a ridiculous plot, some great tunes (A Woman’s Heart, We’ll Gather Lilacs etc) and lots of eye candy. It’s probably exactly what people needed after nearly six years of an exceptionally weary, dreary war. It ran for a thousand performances. Approached in the right frame of mind it’s still a very enjoyable, escapist way of spending a couple of hours.
Guillermo Silva-Marin’s production for Toronto Operetta Theatre, seen yesterday in the Jane Mallett Theatre, captured the mood without getting unduly fussy about period accuracy or any of that stuff. The quartet of singers representing the various incarnations of Sir Graham Rodney (who moonlights as a French highwayman… don’t go there) and his wives/lovers could all sing and move and there was eye candy for all tastes. Cian Horrobin has what used to be described as matinée idol looks and an attractive tenor voice which made him close to ideal as Sir Rodney etc. Lynn Isnar, who gets all the best tunes, was her usual vocally secure self and looked the part as the quintessentially English Lydia/Veronica/Iris. Eugenia Dermentzis added an intriguing touch of exoticism and Caitlin McCaughey played, sang and danced the M roles with gusto, excellent singing and rather good dance skills. Rosalind McArthur was appropriately arch in the Lady Bracknellesque role of Lady Charlotte.
The rather large supporting cast and chorus were well up to the task and Peter Tieffenbach accompanied throughout with his usual skill and sense of style. In the end, I think it was “sense of style” that tipped this performance from being pretty decent to something rather better than that. There was a real sense of period and place, i.e 1940s England, to the performances. There were little touches of accent and inflection; Graa’m not GrayHam, and so on, that helped add a layer of authenticity. All in all rather well done and genuinely enjoyable.