Naughty Marietta

Date 6th March 2020
Society Operetta Company
Venue Trinity Church Hall,Farnworth
Type of Production Musical
Director Allen Christie Casson
Musical Director Dr. Robert Aston


Author: Liz Hume-Dawson

The Operetta Company present Naughty Marietta an Operetta by Victor Herbert written in 1910. It is one of 43 operettas written by Victor Herbert and libretto by Rida Johnson Young, who impressively wrote over 500 songs and was inducted into the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame 44 years after her death. In 1935 a film was released starring Jeanette Macdonald and Eddy Nelson which was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture and Douglas Shearer won Best Sound Recording for his work on the picture. In 2003 the film was picked for preservation in the National Film Registry, qualifying as culturally, historically or aesthetically significant.

Artistic Director Allen Christey-Casson makes it his mission to keep these well-loved shows alive so old and new audiences can enjoy them today. Songs like Sweet Mystery of Life being used in Mel Brooks’ comedy Young Frankenstein and Thoroughly Modern Millie featuring Falling in Love and Sweet Mystery of Life again.

Part staged with Ladies and Gentlemen of the Chorus sat on stage supporting while excerpts of dialogue from the show were performed leading into musical numbers, these were in full costume and the evening was narrated by the engaging Irene Smith explaining what had happened and filling in the storyline.

Dr. Robert Aston as Musical Director gave us a master class in conducting an orchestra with passion and vigour and extracting every ounce of musicality from the show.  The Dream Melody was really beautiful by the orchestra and a particular favourite of mine, showing why five popular songs of the time came from this show. Not to be out done by the cast, Dr. Robert Ashton gave us a very funny Town Cryer which delighted the audience complete with bell and the occasional ‘Oh Yez!’ thrown in for good measure.

Allen Christey-Casson not only directs but impressively takes on the part of Captain Richard (Dick) Warrington (A Confirmed Bachelor) and we all know where that will lead when he meets the beautiful wayward Naughty Marietta played by Clare Unsworth - working well together and with great chemistry. Clare also gave us a lesson in vocal dexterity in Zing Zing - a polished performance complete with accent.

Tony Meehan as Silas Slick adds to the comedy as a lofty ambitious servant, with songs like Quiet Life and his duet, Anyone Else But Me with Lizette played by Jean Forrester, added to the comedy. Silas just happens to show mild interest in Lizette who, short of suitors is hooked – there then ensues a comic romantic chase.

Susan Bradley, playing the Slave Adah who is in love with her master, sings Southern Moon Lovely.  Her master being Etienne Grandet played by Steve Brennan with fine voice - the Character Etienne is not in the film version as he is a real-life notorious pirate. (wonder if the original story came from him?). The rest of the cast collaborated well and a shout out to Enid Magenty for covering the part of Florenze on the night.

The singing was very enjoyable and took me back to watching the old black and white films when I was young with my Grandma Charlotte - thank you for the nostalgia and for making my guest and I so welcome.