The Secretary Turned CEO

The Secretary Turned CEO is a neon, cartoon parody of a classical opera, playing with traditional comedic characters and farcical situations in a modern setting. Although full of enthusiasm and colour, unfortunately the piece isn't as entertaining as it sets out to be and the performances don't resurrect it into a success.

Although full of enthusiasm and colour, unfortunately the piece isn't as entertaining as it sets out to be and the performances don't resurrect it into a success.

The piece follows the power plays and romantic interactions of a secretary and a CEO, who are accompanied in the office by a miming, calamitous intern. It relies on farcical, impish humour although the comedy is rather basic. The workplace setting feels predictable and overdone despite the kooky, multicoloured treatment this one has been given. I didn't believe there to be any chemistry between the two leading actors and the nature of their relationship changes so frequently that the story becomes unclear and unbelievable. The story is so contradictory and misleading that we aren't connected to the drama and have little sympathy for either character.

This modern opera is set to a contemporary score with a jazzy feel which, although initially interesting does not match with the performer’s classical voices. Some sharp and fun lyrics add brightness but modern words or phrases do not blend successfully enough into the libretto for them not to clash and sound out of place. The lyrics become far too repetitive and the piece starts to feel long almost immediately. The performances are inconsistent and become caricatured, although all three actors earn chuckles from the audience at points. Both the CEO and the Secretary have good voices although their diction is poor and we struggle to understand every word.

Joanna Watson as the Secretary has a great voice, a very expressive face and a sharp physicality. She has real sparkle on stage and her energy drives the momentum of the piece.

Reviews by Cara Ballingall

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

Scandalous and accessible comic opera. Pergolesi's La Serva Padrona updated for the 21st century, with a new English libretto. Set in the offices of Soft Sheets Inc, purveyors of luxury toilet roll, where sexual tension, gross incompetence and barely contained chaos lurk just beneath the surface. 'A treat of quality, four-ply comedy ... it's ages since I laughed this much at an opera' **** (OneStopArts.com). 'A hilarious, accessible modern farce ... had us all in stitches' (PlanetHugill.com). 'A genuine hit ... sterling performances' (Ham & High).