The Trial of B. B. Wolf
Music by Curtis Tucker
Word by Nelson Sheeley
and Trial By Jury
By Gilbert and Sullivan
Directed by Dee Axel
Musical Direction by Nishaa Carson
Central Florida Vocal Arts
Presented at CFVA Black Box Theater
250 SW Ivanhoe Blvd
Courtroom procedurals can drag, but if you can sing them in opera, well, the entire legal system becomes entertaining. Tonight, there are two cases on the docket: a costume heavy children’s piece, and a more adult case from the masters of operetta Gilbert and Sullivan. In “The Trial of B. B. Wolf,” Mr. Swine (Christina Rivera) sues B. B. Wolf (Bryan Hayes) for destroying his house. The tall, bewigged Hans Christian Anderson (Andrew LeJune) defends, and Little Red Riding Hood (Katrina Stenzel) offers additional testimony. Mr. Wolf looks a bit like John Candy in “Spaceballs;” his defense is pointed and controversial and the case is postponed until a later date. Defending a fairy tale case can get expensive.
Post intermission we discover a jilted bride and the man she sues for lost affection. This was a real legal thing 150 years ago, and the innovative Gilbert and Sullivan employ the scuffle to comment on the hypocritical mores of their day. Mr. Hayes returns as Edwin T. Defendant; he’s in the dock for dumping Angelina T. Plaintiff (Rivera). We begin with the usher (LeJeune) instructing the jury to ignore the defendant but abide by everything the Plaintiff says. The judge appears (the same John Segers who judged Act 1). He admits marrying ugly for money, then ditching his bride. These guys could run for office today and get all the conservative votes. But when the Bride appears, the judge decides to marry her himself, letting Edwin off the hook. Justice in not only blind, it makes no sense whatsoever. But if we sing it, no audience in the world will convict for lack of entertainment.
As with all CFVA shows the singing outshines the plot, and the set is minimal. Mr. Segers and Mr. LeJune were my favorite male voices while Mrs. Rivera won my female vocalist votes. Mr. Hayes did most of the acting; he kept both the destructive wolf and the philandering defendant physical and almost always in motion, or at least reacting. There’s just a piano pounding out the notes, allowing the voices to shine as they should, and the church hall acoustics are much better than most stages in the area. While not exactly a kids show, there’s nothing her to offend, and happy endings are the main goal of both segments. In a weekend full of dark performances, this one keeps a happy face and never disappoints.
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