By Mia Proli Gable
Arizona Daily Wildcat
"Melodrama at its finest!" proclaim tickets to the Gaslight Theatre's newest production Under Two Flags, and melodrama is definitely what the play delivers.
Under Two Flags is a musical drama/comedy that follows the life of the hero, Bert Cecil (David R. Fanning). Set in England at the turn of the century, Bert stands to inherit a fortune from his grandfather and is engaged to Lady Venetia (Betsy Kruse). But his dreams are shattered when his rival and French cousin, the Marquis de Chateauroy (Cameron Martin) finds a way to fake their grandfather's will so that he will become the heir. Subsequently, Bert loses the girl and the money. Dejected, he joins the French Foreign Legion and tries to start a new life in Algeria.
Many who remember the cast of Sonny Montana, Singing Cowboy, Gaslight's last production, will recognize the same faces and roles in Under Two Flags, as many are typecast, like Fanning, who plays the hero in both productions and Sullivan who plays the nemesis.
Glenda Young returns to Gaslight, after two years of working at the Invisible Theatre, to play Lady Venetia's mother, the Countess Beatrice of Warminster, and Fatima, a dancer in Algeria. Young's conniving and domineering mother is effortlessly switched to portray a dancing and boisterous belly dancer.
Tom Benson's sets for the production are kitschy but fabulous Ä especially, the camels off to the side of the stage that walk, bend down to let riders off and sing. Another interesting effect is a flag pole in the distance. When Cigarette calls for her flag at the end, a character runs off stage and then the flag starts coming down in the background.
Lisa Otey's musical direction is wonderful, especially the rendition of Cab Calloway's trademark "Minnie the Moocher" which is transformed into the Marquis de Chateauroy's theme song.
As usual at the Gaslight Theatre, the crowd becomes very involved with Under Two Flags, booing and hissing at the actors who encourage it. There are many times when the actors break character, but that's all a part of the melodramatic experience, played to perfection.
Under Two Flags runs through June 3 with matinees and nightly shows. Call 886-9428 for reservations for information.
Read Next Article