I’ve just seen Perchance to Dream in its Canadian Premiere with Toronto Operetta Theatre. Ivor Novello’s musical romance was a great success upon its first appearance in London in 1945, although tastes have changed.
I was reminded of Salieri in Amadeus, a once-famous composer who has become obscure, if not forgotten. I am once again moved to thank TOT Artistic Director Guillermo Silva-Marin for taking a risk in presenting this piece. Happily the theatre was packed with an eager audience, sharing my curiosity and delighting in the melodious score.
Charming as the TOT production was, I can see how Novello has fallen from sight, if this show is any indication. The tunes are all lovely, but it’s very much like a serenade, the songs and the choruses lilting and delightful. It might be the prettiest score I’ve ever heard. As theatre, though, it’s very gentle with few jolts or surprises.
Perhaps I’m born in the wrong era to appreciate it..?
Speaking of which, this is a very romantic story across several generations. Indeed it’s like something you might have seen from Hollywood, love and loss in different centuries. But the music is very tuneful, lovely melodies & harmonies. While there’s pain in the story the music is very sweet indeed.
The young attractive cast gave us a semi-staged presentation, although in formal attire rather than costumes, directed by Silva-Marin.
Lynn Isnar was an audience favorite in the multiple roles of Lydia – Veronica – Iris (depending on the year for the scene), singing the show’s big hit song “We’ll Gather Lilacs”. Isnar’s voice was especially brilliant on top, used to great effect. Caitlin McCaughey (Melinda- Melanie –Melody) certainly lived up to her character’s name, leading the women in the show’s boldest number “The Glo-Glo.” Rosalind McArthur’s rich speaking voice was thrilling to hear as Lady Charlotte.
Tenor Cian Horrobin was affecting as Sir Rodney. Joshua Clemenger and Yervant Khatchadourian both have beautiful voices with several lovely moments, courtesy of Novello’s melodious writing.
The musical direction by Peter Tiefenbach at the piano was perfection, very well-balanced & transparent whether working with a soloist, an ensemble or the entire company. Unfortunately there’s just the one performance, but I hope TOT will consider presenting another one of Novello’s works someday. There seems to be a demand for his music, judging from the full house today.