Monday, November 13, 2017

Double Jeopardy: A Double Bill of One-act Operettas.

Producer Theresa Smith-Levin invited me to sketch a Double Jeopardy dress rehearsal. Two one act operettas stood back to back both having a trial theme. The first was The Trial of B.B. Wolf with music by Curtis Tucker and words by Nelson Sheeley. Children's blocks were on the stage. Part of me thought I was in the wrong place. A giant mushroom tiny house was house left and vines intertwined on house right. The judge in this case was a Leprechaun dressed all in green and with a bright orange beard. Pam Schwartz later explained that the blocks had the letters and colors associated with each character. For instance Little Red Riding hood stood by the red R block and the judge stood by the green J block. Members of the audience were invited to go up on stage to sit on the jury.For this rehearsal only two audience members were picked since there officially was no audience. Nishaa Carson the shows musical director performed on the piano with an iPad for her sheet music.

I was confused by the operetta writer's motive. Did an adult audience really want to watch a trail build around Grimm's Fairy-tail characters? The fact that the lyrics were in English was a plus. Of course Stephen Sondheim created the musical Into the Woods, a Broadway musical that was a success, so perhaps it was a viable option. So B. B. Wolf is as it turns out, an actual wolf (Bryan Hayes) in a grey suit and furry skull cap with wolf ears. He was on trial for destroying the three little pigs homes. A chubby little pig (Christina Rivera) took the stand and was interrogated about the incident. She shook in her boots letting out the occasional oink and squeal. Her testimony was overshadowed by the ferocious wolfs stage presence.

The wolf was indited in a second case involving Little Red Riding Hood (Katherine Stenzel). She related the usual tail of gong to her grandmothers house with the unexpected twist that she is an expert in martial arts. When the wolf took of his grandmother disguise, she karate kicked  his sorry butt and brought him in for trial. I am glad I chose to sketch this first operetta since it was visually interesting.

The second Operetta, Trail by Jury was by W.S Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan. Sarah Tellier took over at the piano. The set was transformed into a more traditional courtroom. This was a case of a man, the defendant, (Bryan Hayes) not wanting to marry his voluptuous fiance, the plaintiff, (Christina Rivera) and she brought him to trial to try and force his hand. Some of the language contain references that are unknown to a contemporary audience. For instance that defendant sang, "Be firm, my pecker." Pecker used to be slang for courage, and in the case of a bird, it's beak, in other words, "Keep a stiff upper lip." Even knowing this before hand it was hard to resist a juvenile giggle.

During this performance I was focused on finishing my sketch from the previous operetta so my attention was divided. The defendant was in love with another woman and if forced to marry his fiance he would quickly then marry another. With characters singing over on another and the staging changing so quickly I honesty got a bit lost trying to follow the inn working of the case. I would have made a horrible juror.

Double Jeopardy
CFCArts Black Box Theater 250 SW Ivanhoe Blvd Orlando FL
Tickets: $25 reserved seating, $18 General seating and $16 Student / Seniors
Remaining show dates:
Thursday  November 16, 2017  at 7:30 PM
Friday       November 17, 2017  at 7:30 PM
Saturday   November 18, 2017  at 7:30 PM
Sunday     November 19, 2017  at 3:00 PM

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

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