Light Opera Works’ new artistic director, Lara Teeter, is a choreographer, and it shows. From the moment the curtain rises on his production of this 1889 Gilbert and Sullivan operetta, the stage is alive with dance–including graceful waltzes, an elegant, stately gavotte, and a high-spirited cachuca. Even when the performers aren’t actually dancing, their actions reflect a choreographer’s attention to precision in gesture and movement. But this isn’t to say LOW has turned into a dance troupe. Teeter’s terpsichorean talents enhance rather than overshadow the operetta’s fine points: the score, which draws on Italian and Spanish folk idioms, is one of Sullivan’s loveliest, very well sung and played here under Lawrence Rapchak’s showy if slightly somber musical direction; Gilbert’s droll wit and penchant for silly names and convoluted plotting are likewise much in evidence, and Teeter’s treatment of the humor isn’t broad or arch. The story, a satire on republicanism, monarchy, and religious zealotry, concerns two gondoliers raised as brothers, though one may be the king of Barataria’s son, taken from his family in infancy; the grand inquisitor, Don Alhambra del Bolero, who arranged the royal babe’s abduction after the king converted to Methodism; and the pretentious but penniless Duke of Plaza-Toro, whose daughter, Casilda, secretly loves the duke’s drummer boy though she was wed in childhood to the missing prince. (The name Barataria, by the way, comes from the Spanish word for “to deceive.”) Designers Sahin Sahinoglu (set), Mary Ellen Park (costumes), and Andrew Meyers (lighting) splendidly evoke mid-18th-century Venice–even using candles for footlights–so the production looks more like something by Gluck or Mozart than a Victorian operetta. The fine cast’s crisp articulation helped compensate for opening-night sound problems; standouts include Erich Buchholz and Christopher Garbrecht as the balladeering boatmen, Michelle Areyzaga as Casilda, Peter Pohlhammer as the inquisitor, and the marvelous Frederick Reeder as the greedy grandee Plaza-Toro, a grotesquely haughty Hogarth etching come to life with the aid of makeup artist Sandy Morris. Friday and Saturday, 8 PM, and Sunday, 2 PM, Cahn Auditorium, Northwestern University, 600 Emerson, Evanston; 847-869-6300. ALBERT WILLIAMS

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Rich Foreman.