Please introduce yourself and tell our readers where they may have seen you in the past year?
I am Mary Mitchell and I have the pleasure of performing Dame Hannah in VLOC’s production of Ruddigore. Previously, I was cast as the Alto/Housekeeper of the Servant Quartet in VLOC’s fall production, Haddon Hall.
Why did you want to be part of Ruddigore at VLOC?
Having just performed in Haddon Hall, I had such fun that I thought I would like to continue with this wonderful company of people. This production has been so enjoyable to learn and perform. It has so many different elements neatly packaged; Comic moments, moments of tenderness, mistaken identities, all culminating in the overall message of one of lightheartedness, joy and eternal love.
Why is Ruddigore so relevant today and what does it have to say to audiences of all ages? And why do you think it’s still so popular among Gilbert and Sullivan fans?
Ruddigore is timeless in its appeal. In addition to the characters that G & S have drawn, Ruddigore has so many levels of interest and fun. While the audience is treated to many devices of comedy and confusion, the tunes are rich, the sets are lovely, the costumes beautiful and the overriding message is one of true love prevailing!
Who do you play in the show?
I play Dame Hannah, a mature woman of a myriad of qualities. She is strong, gentle, dramatic, sensible, patient and winsome at times.
Have you appeared in other productions of Ruddigore?
This is the first time I have performed in Ruddigore.
Tell me about the arias you sing and what we learn about your character in these arias/songs?
Sir Rupert Murgatroyd is the main aria for Dame Hannah. In this aria she reveals that she was once a young woman very much in love with a “god-like youth.” When she discovered this youth’s identity was actually a “bad baronet of Ruddigore” she realized then and there that she must break the betrothal. Heart-broken she resigned herself to “eternal maidenhood.” She reveals to us the curse of Ruddigore. Later, she joins Sir Roderic Murgatroyd in a duet in which she happily sings of the “pretty little flower” (Hannah as a young woman) and the “great oak tree” (Sir Roderic).
What is your favorite aria that you don’t sing and why?
Mad Margaret’s aria “Cheerily carols the lark.” It is such a beautiful melody and the sentiment is sweet, speaking eloquently to the heartbreak she has suffered from Sir Despard. It’s a beautiful counterpoint to the earlier trio.
Which character in the show is most like you, and why?
I imagine Dame Hannah. We are both “mature” in years. We have experienced much in our lives and care deeply for those in our care. We look forward to what is ahead with optimism.
What do you admire most about your fellow castmates’ performances?
Everyone in the cast is very creative, easy to play off of, and very encouraging. I enjoy watching and hearing the characters develop. Experiencing the transformation of the production from its infancy to full bloom, is very gratifying and rewarding.
In 10 words or less – how do you describe Ruddigore?
Comic operetta, great moments of tenderness, mistaken identities, love prevails.
What was the best advice or suggestions that Director Helen Aberger gave you about playing your character and how has Musical Director Joseph Sorge helped you vocally?
Helen is a delight! Upbeat, engaged, and very encouraging name just a few of her charms! She respects the cast and crew and welcomes ideas and/or thoughts regarding all aspects of the production. She encourages the performer to explore the many facets of their role to form the character as their own.
Joe is the quiet anchor; always steady and meticulous in his preparation. He is very easy to follow and prepares the performers and musicians with great care. Ever patient, he makes sure that we are singing to our best capability and always gives constructive criticism with a sense of humor. Rehearsals are always great fun and energizing!
What are you doing next on the stage after Ruddigore?
I hope to be cast in an upcoming production with VLOC. Currently, I am performing as the Alto soloist with the PG Choral Society in Beethoven’s Mass in C Major.
Why should audience goers bring their families to see Ruddigore?
It’s a thoroughly enjoyable production, visually, aurally and provides fun for the seasoned theater goer and novice. Young and old will enjoy!
Ruddigore plays from June 11-21, 2015 at The Victorian Lyric Opera Company performing at F. Scott Fitzgerald Theatre at The Rockville Civic Center – 603 Edmonston Drive, in Rockville, MD. For tickets, call Call the box office at (240) 314-8690, or purchase them at the box office 2 hours before each performance. Box office hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 2 p.m. – 7 p.m.