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THEATER REVIEW 'RUDDIGORE' : Savoyard's Delight : The Gilbert and Sullivan work features wit, melody, high spirits and low humor at Moorpark College.

March 19, 1992|TODD EVERETT | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Gilbert and Sullivan take on Victorian melodrama and the spirit world in "Ruddigore." The result is a tuneful melange, full of high spirits and low humor.

The team's eighth full-length work followed their best-known plays--"H.M.S. Pinafore," "The Pirates of Penzance" and "The Mikado," among them--and again demonstrated their facility for melody and wit.

"Ruddigore" continues through this weekend at Moorpark College, under the supervision of Marilyn Anderson, who has during the past 16 years made the school a premier showcase for operetta.

Andrew Krigel and Nicole Yaro star as Robin Oakapple and Rose Maybud, respectively. Robin is the alias of Sir Ruthven Murgatroyd, who has taken on the new name and the life of a farmer to avoid an ancient curse upon his family.

Rose is so beautiful that all the eligible young men in town, including Robin, are afraid to approach her romantically--a condition that has transformed the town's corps of tittering bridesmaids-on-retainer into a group of ladies-in-waiting. Waiting, that is, for the only eligible young woman around to get married.

Robin and Rose are the kind of upper-class twits so dear to English comedy. She judges her men by how their actions measure up to a book of etiquette that she keeps with her at all times. He is rather a dim bulb, no matter how well-meaning.

Into this plot steps lusty sailor Richard Dauntless, Robin's foster brother, whose "hornpipe is the talk of the fleet." And then there is Robin's younger brother, Sir Despard Murgatroyd (Grant Dagg), who has been carrying out the demands of the curse.

All of them are terrific, as is Fred Camerer, who plays the cadaverous spirit of Sir Roderick Murgatroyd. Two of the supporting parts--Dauntless and Mad Margaret, Despard's paramour--are double-cast. They are played by David Baker and Jeri Ursetti on Friday night (Ursetti again on Sunday); Mark Goodman--not the former MTV veejay--and Karen Cozen take the parts for the remaining performances.

Even when the performances are a little weak, the show moves on, and some of the choral work is marvelous. Musical accompaniment is by either of two pianists, Arthur Donduki or Dean Mora; the costumes are lovely and the sets effective.

Somebody has inserted a couple of anachronistic and/or local jokes to no horribly ill effect except to possibly turn hard-core Savoyards apoplectic. Those not so devoted to pure Gilbert and Sullivan will probably find them amusing enough to justify their presence.

* WHERE AND WHEN

"Ruddigore" continues through this weekend at the Moorpark College Campus Forum, 7075 Campus Road, Moorpark. Performances are at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 7 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $8 general admission, $7 students/staff, $6 senior citizens and children under 12. Be sure to confirm parking arrangements; on Saturday night, the Forum lot was inexplicably closed. For reservations or information, call 378-1437.

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