The Red Mill
Sat., Mar. 31, 8 pm and Sun., April 1, 2 pm
The Village Theater
50400 Cherry Hill Road, Canton, MI 48187
Credit card orders: 734-394-5460
or at Summit on the Park, 46000 Summit Pkwy, Canton
and at the door
Adults: $20.00 Seniors $17.00 Students: $15.00
The Comic Opera Guild will present this enchanting musical comedy as its sixth consecutive production at Canton’s The Village Theater, and the main show of its 39th season. Seventeen soloists will be accompanied by chorus and orchestra, staged by Thomas Petiet and conducted by Argentinian maestro, Mariano Riera.
The Comic Opera Guild, already known throughout the state for touring original English language productions of European operettas, has recently become the primary producer of Victor Herbert operettas in the world, with 30 titles to its credit. This production will be followed, in May, with the revival and recording of three more of this composer’s shows.
Why Victor Herbert? In the early years of the American musical stage, productions tended to be rather unsophisticated revues or burlesques. The better shows were all imported from Europe. Herbert came to America from Ireland as a cellist and conductor, but soon tired of performing the works of other, less capable people. He began writing scores for the stage, and shortly became the most sought-after composer on Broadway. His meticulous and gorgeous scoring earned him the title “The Father of the American Musical.”
Unfortunately, Herbert died before the recording industry could reproduce sound accurately, and so as the jazz age came into popularity, his works could not be enjoyed in their entirety. Many of his songs became standards, but the shows eventually disappeared from the stage.
Of all Herbert’s shows, “The Red Mill,” “Babes in Toyland” and “Naughty Marietta” are the easiest to revive, as they all show the composer at top of his game. The scores are full of fine melodies and rich ensemble writing. Although the original books don’t work so well today, the Guild has provided new versions of each show, intended to make these shows hits again for new audiences.
The basic plot remains pretty much the same. In a village in Holland, two American vaudevillians, Con and Kid, who have been seeking their fortune in Europe, itch to get back to New York, but are stranded penniless in the little inn, “The Sign of the Red Mill”. The owner of the inn, Burgomijster Van Borkum, seeks to marry his daughter, Gretje, to the Governor of Zeeland.
Gretje loves merchant marine Captain Dorus van Damm, however. The Americans, along with the Inn’s maid Tina, agree to help Gretje and the Captain elope in return for passage to America. The Burgomijster, to prevent this, locks Gretje in the mill, where she pines away for the man she loves. Kid, Con and Tina try to help her escape, but the Burgomijster has made all arrangements for the marriage of his daughter to the governor, and makes sure the police will not let her leave town. The two Americans appear at the wedding festivities in disguise in a plot to subvert the wedding. When it is discovered that Captain Van Damm is heir to a large fortune, all resistance to him collapses. The lovers are united, and they, Tina and the Americans return home to old New York.
The show was written for the Vaudeville comedy team of Montgomery and Stone, and the Guild’s team of Keith Austin Brown and Don Devine will fill their roles. The fiery Tina will be played by soprano Giles Simmer, the Burgomijster by Guild veteran Bob Douglas, and the young lovers will be Natalie Emptage and Gyorgy Barabas.