Review: The Gypsy Princess (Toronto Operetta Theatre)

Written in 1915 by Hungarian Imre Kalman, The Gypsy Princess quickly became a smashing hit and flourished during the war years. The show is an operetta, something which I knew very little about before seeing this show. In case you’re a novice like me, an operetta is a lighter version of an opera, not as serious and perhaps a little less singing and a little more talking.

The Gypsy Princess tells the story of a cabaret diva Sylvia Varescu who is in love with, and loved by, the Austrian Prince Edwin. However, as in many plays from this time, their love is something of a forbidden secret since his family would certainly be displeased if he were to marry a cabaret performer. In a series of twists and turns that involve a pretend marriage between Sylvia and Count Bonifazius, also known as the jovial Boni, The Gypsy Princess is a delightful show that will definitely have you smiling.

The music was catchy and fun and I could even hear someone behind me singing along to it during the show. The costumes were beautiful and the entire show exuded an air of colourful liveliness. When Boni decided to ham it up and inject the show with a modern joke about being desperate enough to work for Rob Ford, the audience went crazy with laughter.

Perhaps the best thing about this show was Lara Ciekiewicz, the actress who plays Sylvia. Her voice was astounding and she did a marvelous job playing the role of the Gypsy Princess. This talented woman drew praise from everyone around me, which I quickly found out during the intermission of the show. As soon as the lights in the theatre came on, I could hear people around me remarking how incredible she was. One loud commenter even said, “that kind of energy is intoxicating,” demonstrating her appeal to people of all ages and genders.

Overall, this show was very fun and a real crowd-pleaser. My only issue with it was that, running three hours, it was a little longer than it needed to be. Other than that, I had a great time; it was funny, sad and happy and you just can’t beat the amazing voices singing such beautiful opera songs.

The Gypsy Princess is playing at the Jane Mallett Theatre (27 Front Street East) until January 8, 2012
-Shows run December 28 until January 7, Friday to Saturday and Wednesday at 8pm, with an additional matinee January 8 at 2pm
– Ticket prices range from $66-$95
-Tickets are available online or through the box office at 416-366-7723