The puppet stole the show in this year’s Rossland Light Opera Players production.
The RLOP put on performances of The Reluctant Dragon in Rossland, Castlegar and Trail, and at the Friday night performance in Trail it was Denis Senecal who stood out for his charming portrayal of the vegetarian, Shakespeare-loving mythological beast.
Senecal not only delivered the dragon’s lines with humour and a great Scottish accent, but managed the dragon puppet’s bulk and operated it with skill. And he managed to cover when the puppet misbehaved.
During Friday night’s performance, when the dragon first meets the protagonist, Jack, Senecal had a problem with the puppet and had to pull it back into the cave to fix it. He covered expertly with some improvised dialogue and quickly had the puppet out and performing again.
The rest of the cast also delivered strong performances.
Michael Davis and Sarah Sordi were both entertaining in their villainy. Davis played the scheming assistant mayor Nigel and Sordi played Jack’s stepmother who is desperately trying to poison and kill him before he reaches his 18th birthday so she can hold onto his farm. Daniel Marlo played Jack, the seemingly jaded millennial trying to keep his village from killing the dragon just to get a day off work.
Next to Davis and Sordi, who played their characters appropriately over the top, Marlo’s performance was far more understated, and the contrast added to the humour of the scenes where Jack interacts with the two villains.
Rounding out the main cast was Eric Ackerman, who played the aging knight St. George. Ackerman’s exchanges with Senecal were delightful, especially in the final showdown when the two exchanged Shakespearean insults. That being said, the choreography during the final battle could have been stronger, as Ackerman mostly jumped from one side of the dragon’s cave to the other while aimlessly swinging his sword.
The costumes and sets all looked wonderful and the three-piece band — Lois Allen on flute and percussion, Dean Lozeron on cello and Karen Yamazaki on keyboard — sounded great.
Overall, the RLOP did a great job of putting on The Reluctant Dragon — the cast gave strong performances all around — the only hiccup was the script itself. Based on a synopsis alone the play sounds like it should be funny and entertaining — a town full of people pits a dragon slayer against a vegetarian, poet dragon to get a day off work — but in execution the script was repetitive, rehashing the same jokes over and over again, including a fart joke centered on the dragon, which gets old fast.
One could argue that the play’s main audience is children, who are generally fond of repetition, but a good family play should be entertaining for all ages.
Still, the cast of the RLOP put on a fun show, and made the most of what they had to work with.