"Princess Ida" - by Gilbert and Sullivan - Sudbury Savoyards (Sudbury, MA.) - REVIEW

(Cover Photo: Sydney Pérez as "Princess Ida" in a moment from Gilbert and Sullivan's "PRINCESS IDA" from the Sudbury Savoyards in Sudbury, MA. through March 2, 2024. Photo Credit Sue Flint)

By Kevin T. Baldwin

METRMAG Reviewer

# 774-242-6724

"Though I am but a girl, defiance thus I hurl! Our banners all on outer wall, we fearlessly unfurl!"

                       - ("Princess Ida") / Gilbert and Sullivan


The Sudbury Savoyards 

Presents Gilbert and Sullivan's


Written by W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan

Stage Direction by Rebecca Graber

Music Direction by Stephanie Beatrice 

Produced by Kai Fay and Laurel Martin

Cast Includes: Maria Bozich & Sydney Pérez as “Princess Ida,” Matt Tragert as “King Hildebrand,” Michael Gonzalez as “Hilarion,” Brad Amidon as “King Gama,” David Smyth as “Florian,” Thai Johnson as “Cyril,” Sara DeLong as “Lady Blanche,” Danielle Shevchenko as “Lady Psyche,” Sara Mitnik as “Melissa,” Blair Eig as “Arac,” Matt Garber as “Guron,” Santo Mammone as “Scynthius,” Eliza Howells as “Sacharissa,” Kai Fay as “Chloe,” Mei Lin Po as “Ada.” 

With: Lucy Auger, Briana Bensenouci, Brendon Chetwynd, Kirsten Chetwynd, Graham Daley, Dianne DeChellis, Jennifer Dohm, Meryl Eisenstein, Deborah Gaz, Randy Glidden, José González, Lourdes González, Kim Kapner, Larry Millner, Aire Nifong, Karen Powers, Martin Reiss, Mary Jo Reiss, Susan Robinson, and Marla Zucker

Additional Creative Team:

Stage Manager - Nadine Sa; Assistant Stage Manager - Bill Fisher; Set Designer - Laurel Martin; Makeup Designer - Elizabeth Stone; Assistant Stage Director - Briana Bensenouci; Costume Designers - Sue Flint and Donna Roessler; Lighting Designer - Lowell Gilbert; Sound Designer - Bill Lopoulos; Publicity Strategist - Sara DeLong; Scenic Painter - Dave O'Gara; Technical Director - Laurel Martin

Lincoln Sudbury Regional High School, 390 Lincoln Road, Sudbury, MA 01776


February 12, 2024 through March 2, 2024

(Contact Box Office for Exact Times)


$15 - $27




Contact Venue for Most Updated COVID-19 Safety Protocols and Information.

The Sudbury Savoyards presents Gilbert and Sullivan’s eighth collaboration "PRINCESS IDA" - a musical with some dated themes which, thanks to a unique contemporary approach, is presented by a superb cast and full orchestra.

To begin on a personal note:

About a month or so ago, I was reviewing a couple of local productions and there were some people noticing advertisements for the upcoming production of "PRINCESS IDA." 

There seemed to be conveyed an overall anticipation of it being an utterly disastrous show. 

The discussions were equally unenthusiastic about the show itself and the attempt to approach the material with a more "contemporary" take. 

Apparently, the consensus was this ambitious approach would take away from the classic story by W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan.

I am pleased to report that these people were completely mistaken.

From this reviewer's perspective, not only does the approach by director Rebecca Graber remain faithful to the original source material, it provides a fresh new perspective.

This does not mean that "PRINCESS IDA" will become one of the G&S shows with a wider appeal. It still has some issues, but those issues certainly do not take away anything from the efforts by those in this production. 

Yes, there is still some dated, certainly sexist content inherent in the libretto, as the story satirizes feminism, women's education and Darwinian evolution in such a way that no approach could correct.

Yet, with the more gender fluid approach taken in the staging by Graber, these "stings" one might feel from hearing some of the lyrical content in the show is very much reduced, allowing for an appreciation of the beautiful score to be elevated, as a result.

Also contributing to the success of the production is the magnificent live orchestra guided by the expertly wielded baton of conductor and music director Stephanie Beatrice.

(Photo: Brad Amidon as "King Gama" in a scene from Gilbert and Sullivan's "PRINCESS IDA" from the Sudbury Savoyards in Sudbury, MA. through March 2, 2024. Photo Credit Chris Pollari)

The opera is based on an 1847 poem by Alfred, Lord Tennyson entitled “The Princess” which Gilbert adapted into a musical play in 1870, eventually bringing to Sullivan and evolving the piece into "PRINCESS IDA" by its premiere in 1884.

Before the curtain rises, the overture (“Introduction”) to "PRINCESS IDA" highlights a consistent "ebb and flow" which is masterfully executed by the orchestra.

As the story begins, we are witness to a highly anticipated event at King Hildebrand's Castle, as Princess Ida (played at the February 24th production by Sydney Pérez), the daughter of King Gama (Brad Amidon), is expected to reunite with her husband Prince Hilarion (Michael Gonzalez), whom she has not seen since betrothed to him when he was two-years-old at her birth, 20 years ago.

King Hildebrand (Matt Tragert) threatens that if Gama, whom he despises, does not bring "PRINCESS IDA" with him to "formally unite" their kingdoms as previously arranged, then the peace they have endured will end in war.

(Photo: Sara Mitnik as "Melissa" with David Smyth as "Florian" in a moment from Gilbert and Sullivan's "PRINCESS IDA" from the Sudbury Savoyards in Sudbury, MA. through March 2, 2024. Photo Credit Sue Flint)

Wearing sweats (reminiscent of old style football uniforms with lettered jerseys), the three sons of King Gama - Arac (Blair Eig), Guron (Matthew Garber) and Scynthius (Santo Mammone) - enter in advance of Gama, and sing to boast of their valor in anticipation of their father's arrival.

Gama arrives with a great exuberance but, to everyone's shock and dismay, without "IDA." 

Gama informs Hildebrand that "IDA" has turned her back on the outside world, shielding herself within the walls of the isolated Castle Adamant (aka the "University") with a multitude of female subjects serving as her "students" in effort to study more stringent empowering feminist philosophies.

Furious, Hildebrand holds Gama and his three sons hostage while son, Hilarion, along with his devoted companions, Cyril (Thai Johnson) and Florian (David Smyth), goes to retrieve his estranged wife.

(Photo: Sara DeLong as "Lady Blanche" in a moment from Gilbert and Sullivan's "PRINCESS IDA" from the Sudbury Savoyards in Sudbury, MA. through March 2, 2024. Photo Credit Sue Flint)

The trio of Gonzalez, Johnson and Smyth have a terrific comedic chemistry together, reminiscent of "The Three Stooges" comedies. (And, btw, who is to say that "Moe, Larry and Curly/Shemp/Joe/Curly-Joe. etc." was not inspired by the comedies of G&S?) 

However, their arrival to where "IDA" rules more like a headmistress than royalty, sets up the more problematic of the story as the above trio decides to disguise themselves as women (simply wearing pleated schoolgirl skirts) to "blend in" among the female population as they seek to "retrieve" the Princess and restore peace.

If this trio of men are discovered, the penalty will be death. 

Within a brief time, though, the trio soon find something they had not expected - love. 

While Hilarion attempts to ignite a romantic spark with "IDA" (who does not know him from "Adam"...or, perhaps, in this case, "Eve") Cyril falls for Florian's sister, Lady Psyche (Danielle Shevchenko), the Professor of Humanities while Florian falls for Melissa (Sara Mitnik), the daughter of Professor of Abstract Science, Lady Blanche (Sara DeLong).

During an unusual luncheon, secrets are exposed and the castle is attacked, leading to an odd but highly entertaining conclusion, which includes a clever slapstick style fight sequence featuring the Gama trio of brothers and Hilarion, Florian and Cyril.

(Photo: Sydney Pérez as "Princess Ida" in a moment from Gilbert and Sullivan's "PRINCESS IDA" from the Sudbury Savoyards in Sudbury, MA. through March 2, 2024. Photo Credit Sue Flint)

One note for those planning to attend:

A decision was made to run Acts I and II of the three-act opera as a single act with one intermission before the finale Act III

This decision puts the run time for the first half of the performance at approximately two hours. 

The only alternatives would have been either having two intermissions or splitting up part of Act II, presumably before the "luncheon" scene, so that all three acts run approximately the same amount of time. 

However, breaking up the libretto was probably not even a consideration. Therefore, please bear this arrangement in mind before the performance begins.

In the end, there are absolutely no weak performances by the principals, supported by an exemplary ensemble. 

There is also an attempt to highlight strong women, attempting to control the narrative in a libretto which does not always accommodate the effort.

Whatever someone's personal views regarding the overtly sexist material, there are also moments showing these women as assertive, smart, brave, self-reliant and determined to succeed. 

If only the above approach by Gilbert and Sullivan could have sustained the presentation, radical for its time, without having to ultimately retreat and make the female characters relent to the norms of the time.

If one can look at "PRINCESS IDA" with an understanding that this piece is from 1884 and a product of its time, one might still find themselves enjoying much of the show, especially the music. 

As one also further appreciates the approach taken to minimize the archaic nature of the piece, ultimately, they will soon discover themselves entertained by the prodigious individual and collective performances rendered by this talented cast.

The Sudbury Savoyards' production of "PRINCESS IDA" continues until March 2nd, 2024 at Lincoln Sudbury Regional High School

For tickets, go to www.simpletix.com/e/princess-ida-tickets-151350

Approximately two hours, 30 minutes with one intermission

Kevin T. Baldwin is a member of the American Theatre Critics Association (ATCA) 




What happens when "PRINCESS IDA" rejects her arranged marriage, eschews men, and builds a women's college instead? 

Find out in this witty Gilbert & Sullivan operetta that satirizes gender stereotypes, social norms, and the ivory tower. 

Join Prince Hilarion and his friends as they enroll in Castle Adamant in an attempt to win PRINCESS IDA'S heart. 

After all, anyone who has used a public restroom knows that skirts mean women and trousers mean men, so what if it were just that simple? 

Of course getting in and fitting in are two different things as love at first sight runs headfirst into academic power struggles and a single-minded devotion to women's liberation.

"PRINCESS IDA" will delight fans of the classical and modern alike in a grand production featuring a full orchestra and striking sets with a contemporary twist.


THE SUDBURY SAVOYARDS, INC. are a community theater organization founded in 1961 in Sudbury, Massachusetts that specializes in the light operas (“operettas”) composed by W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan. We are one of the few theater companies in New England that performs all the works of Gilbert & Sullivan as “Theater on a Grand Scale” – with a large chorus, full orchestra, and full staging, costuming, and lights. These productions feature a chorus open to all who wish to participate, while our leads are selected through competitive auditions. We perform one large scale G&S show a year, in winter. We produce a smaller-scale, usually non-musical comedy or light drama in the summer, and occasionally produce concerts and smaller outreach events. Charity had always been an important element in our program of work; THE SAVOYARDS have donated more than a quarter million dollars to world hunger relief over the past three decades. Although as a non-profit arts organization, our direct donations are limited, we continue to work to find ways to support relief of hunger though collaborations.  As a registered 501(c)(3) organization, donations and gifts to THE SAVOYARDS are applicable as charitable deductions for tax purposes. .

P. O. Box # 762

Sudbury, MA. 01776

Phone (Voicemail) # 781-369-5992