With the 1931 Gershwin musical comedy Of Thee I Sing, detailing the drama of a fictitious American presidential election, already in its repertoire, Opera North adds its sequel, a 1933 Broadway show presented here in immaculate period visuals in Tim Hopkins’ sets and Gabrielle Dalton’s costumes.
Four years on from its predecessor, William Dazeley’s amiable President Wintergreen loses the election to a rival and takes instead to the garment industry - popularising the blue shirts that refer, obliquely, to the ominous rise of fascism in continental Europe. But George S Kaufman’s and Morrie Ryskind’s book, and Ira Gershwin’s lyrics offer a light-hearted and even light-headed view of politics and politicians, though brother George’s score is several cuts above the thirties Broadway average in ambition and sheer ingenuity.
Carried off with the level of assurance and perfected ensemble that Opera North’s top-notch company brings to it, the result doesn’t aspire to depth, but there’s plenty of wit to keep audiences plentifully entertained.
Caroline Gawn’s staging maintains constant momentum and the cast ensures that every word comes across. Highlights include Richard Suart’s bumbling General Snookfield and his sassy sidekick, Jeni Bern’s Trixie Flynn, Richard Burkhard’s sinister Kruger and Steven Beard’s delightfully daffy Throttlebottom, but there are no weak links. The score swings merrily along under the loving hands of conductor Wyn Davies. Well worth catching while both shows are on tour.