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Gold Rush Girls

Cyrano’s  Theatre Company presents:


by Karmo and Jerry Sanders


Runs through September 2


By Robert Pond

There’s a rousing stage show waiting for you at Cyrano’s Theatre Company.  In fact, some thought should be given to staging it every summer.  It’s a tourist kind of presentation and will probably have many full houses.  The Gold Rush Girls takes you back to the time when the promise of wealth or an escape from one’s past drove men and women towards the last frontier – a last chance for some.

The Gold Rush Girls is adapted and somewhat inspired from Lael Morgan’s book, The Good Time Girls, a busy history of women in the gold fields at the Klondike and throughout Alaska.  Playwright Karmo Sanders and composer Jerry Sanders created the music melodrama of escape, hope, love with a pinch of despair.  The result is an entertaining musical romp.  There’s not very much new here; the show is a romanticized view of what historians would call popular history.  The music ranges in style from the head tones of current Broadway to even a reminder of Gilbert and Sullivan.  There are two shows here.  One is the girls’ tale as told through song in a revue-like performance which then seems to be interrupted by the dialogue scenes.  The two don’t seem to blend well; Seven Brides for Seven Brothers or Paint Your Wagon might be examples of such shows.  For the audience, Gold Rush Girls is, nonetheless, a comfortable and entertaining experience.

The National Premiere of Gold Rush Girls was a bit sluggish at the start of the opening night but soon reach a performance level when the stage burst out with side slapping song.   Dan McElrath’s music direction and performance was so good.  The singers from time to time had to catch up to Mr. McElrath, though he did guide them well.   It’s not usually a good idea for a director to take a role in the piece he’s directing, but Ed Bourgeois did meet the challenge of the separate perspectives.  For the most part he keeps the stage busy and his directorial design is sure.  Bourgeois is an experienced and gifted actor as well.  He was mostly successful in containing the role of the evil villain Barker from going over the top, not an easy task in what is essentially a melodrama.  Once on stage, Bourgeois is in charge.  He is not, however, overwhelming as a singer.

Christina Gagnon as Kanoontuk was the spiritual thread to the show.  She has the loveliest of voices and her support work on stage was impressive as well.  Ali de Guzman’s performance as Rose just melts your heart. The scene where her soul is raped was played and staged with a great deal of care and power.  Regina MacDonald presented a hard edge to the role of Lily.  She kept the audience guessing.  Katie Strock, in the pivotal role of Eudora, has a show voice from the school of Merman.  Her voice as well as her acting demonstrates an impressive range.

Many times there’s a performer that you just can’t take your eyes off and Skye Nilsson playing Skeeter is such a performer.  Ms Nilsson, as Skeeter-a man, gave us the best support work we’ve seen in a long time.  Director Bourgeois used Nilsson well.  The character Skeeter was always there, constantly engaged but never intrusive, an old trick from film director John Ford.

The set for Gold Rush Girls was accommodating to the demands of the show and clearly supported the production well.   For a fun time, Gold Rush Girls will play at Cyrano’s until September 2nd.

2 Responses leave one →
  1. Ann Valone permalink
    August 2, 2012

    It was my first trip to Cyrano’s. I was there to support my friend in her role as Skeeter. I didn’t know what to expect but [oh-my-goodness] was I ever treated to the best performance seen in quite some time. All roles were well played – though I am a wee bit biased by Skye’s presence/performance – I would still choose the role of Skeeter as my favorite. Skeeter captured my attention in such a subtle manner that my ‘third eye’ actively payed attention to his every move yet remained actively amazed at the other character roles. Wow!; I believe that was my first response as we were graced with the bows of performers…
    I’m going to see this one again.

    • fzine permalink*
      August 22, 2012

      Skeeter was in fact fantastic!

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