NEGASS home page Gilbert Sullivan pooh-bah@negass.orgpdf copies

Vol. XXV No. 5 
 No! No! No! Not intelligent!

SUNDAY, March 25 at 2:00 PM
LMLO IDA in Arlington

 In This Issue: 

 

Articles

Reviews 

 

 

 

 

 

 


LMLO PRINCESS IDA

- W
ith Last-Minute Light Orchestra -
AT THE PARK AVENUE CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH IN ARLINGTON

(How to get there
)

Sunday, March 25 at 2:00 PM 

The show has been almost entirely cast, but there are still a few parts open:

We need a Cyril.  This is a high tenor part, but it can be sung as a “trouser role” by a light soprano – I have known it done, and such cross-casting is entirely appropriate for LMLO.  We need a Scynthius – a role usually done by a bass, but hey! – this is LMLO!  Girls, here’s your chance to show the guys how to be a really stupid brother! And there’s Ada - a short speaking role - female.  But if you’re a guy who wants to perform, but who doesn’t sing… why not?  (Please note the casting of Lady Blanche, as listed below.) NEWS FLASH! - since print time, the role of Scynthius has been taken by Steve Levine, the role of Ada has been taken by Nancy Burstein, and the role of Cyril has been taken by Larry Seiler!

We will once again be singing with a full Last-Minute Orchestra, which will be conducted by David Larrick, using his own edition of the orchestra parts and full score.  Vic Godin has assembled a complete orchestra.  And we have a cast:

King Hildebrand

Bob Russell

Hilarion (his son)

Lee Patterson

Cyril (Hilarion’s friend)

Larry Seiler

Florian (Hilarion’s friend)

Todd Long

King Gama

Ray O'Hare Act I
Irv Hodgkin Act III

Arac, Guron and Scynthius (Gama’s sons)

Peter Cameron, Tony Parkes and Steve Levine

Princess Ida (Gama’s daughter)

Marion Leeds Carroll Act II
Janice Dallas Act III

Lady Blanche (Professor of Abstract Science)

David Leigh

Lady Psyche (Professor of Humanities)

Ellen Spear

Melissa (Blanche’s daughter)

Randi Kestin

Sacharissa, Chloe, (students)

Martha Birnbaum

Ada  (student)

Nancy Burstein

 

To claim one of the still-open roles, contact Rebecca Consentino Haines at rconsentino@mediaone.net or Carl Weggel at (978) 474-0396

-- mlc 

  

JANUARY MEETING: THESPIS AT THE NEWTON FREE LIBRARY.  The Newton Library provided a pleasant spot in which to enjoy a videotape of Bruce Montgomery’s setting of THESPIS.  (As every Savoyard knows, Sullivan’s music was almost entirely lost, inspiring generations of devotees to attempt re-settings of the text.)  This videotape, which was filmed at last summer’s International G&S Festival in Buxton, England, featured a performance by a group from the Philadelphia area, which rehearsed very briefly on this side of the puddle and then got together in England and put the show together in four days.  For such a rapidly-prepared production of an unfamiliar work performed by amateurs, it was a remarkably fine show.

A plus for those of us who have never been to the Festival: The film opened with a bird’s-eye view of Buxton, circling down from heights which showed the surrounding countryside and the town, then soaring through groves and streets, until the putative bird finally came to rest inside the opera house where Festival performances take place. We then saw the stage being set up for the production, and finally saw the performance itself.

The show was very satisfying. The sets and costumes were attractive, the performers were charming and talented, and the staging took advantage of opportunities for both intimacy and pageantry.  Bruce Montgomery’s music worked very well.  There were places where Sullivan himself might have made a different choice of style or mood, but overall it was very attractive, very Sullivan-esque in style, and showed the story line (not perhaps Gilbert's most brilliant, but let that pass!) to good advantage.

There were only about a dozen NEGASSers present – including a few we don’t see very often. It was good to see Chuck Berney, who is laying plans for future obscure Savoyard activities.  An even rarer sight: John Howard, the Charter Member who briefly, in bygone days, served as editor of the Trumpet Bray, and who used to host all our Election Meetings. The bulk of the large audience (Don Smith estimates about 90) consisted of Newton residents who came to enjoy a free Sunday program at the library, not knowing exactly what they were going to see.

Janice Dallas commented that “not all that many of them” walked out half-way through the screening. Carol Mahoney suggests that a written plot synopsis of some sort would have been helpful for those unfamiliar with the plot - a thought for future screenings of any show in any venue, but particularly of more obscure shows in this particular venue. Another suggestion came up: NEGASS ought to use the Newton Library as a place in which to perform or to hold screenings of familiar rather than unfamiliar G&S operas, since the audience we gather there is usually full of neophytes who need to be wooed gently.

There was talk of going out to dinner afterwards, but in the end, the only NEGASSers who went were the Dallases, who dined in the company of an audience member who expressed interest in joining NEGASS.  The suggestion was made that a more formal and comfortable dining establishment might have encouraged more members to linger, and Dick Freedman, a former Newton resident, has suggested a good Italian spot to try.

In any event - What a pleasant way to spend an afternoon, seeing a fine performance of a rarely-performed show!

 --  EMILY, JOHN, JAMES AND I

Tentative Meeting Schedule, 2000-2001 

3/25 at 2:00 PM Last Minute Light Opera/Orchestra IDA - Park Avenue Congregational Church, Arlington, MA
5/6 Master Class with Eileen St David
6/10 Elections/Fantasy Day

Next Bray Copy Deadline: April 15, 2001

Next Bray Stuffing: Sunday, April 22 at 3:00 PM at 111 Fairmont St, Arlington, MA. Call Us at (781) 646-9115 evenings and weekends, or send email to marion@leedscarroll.com for directions to Our snug and easy-to-get-to home. -mlc

Welcome, Welcome, Welcome We New Members David Leigh, Deborah Reisman, and Dot Stevens – and Welcome to our hearts again, David Jedlinsky- We didn’t realize you had left! Dot and her husband, Tom, who live in E. Greenwich, RI, are long-time devotees of G&S, and members of SavoyNet. Dave Leigh was introduced to the world of Gilbert and Sullivan at the age of twelve, and has been hooked ever since. He holds a BFA in Musical Theatre from  Emerson College, has performed in several G&S operas, and studies and researches the repertoire in his spare time.  David Jedlinsky, who  has performed as tenor and baritone in many area G&S productions, and who was one of the founding members of MITG&SP, is directing their upcoming DUKE  No news about the others – Tell Us, Tell Us All About It! Hearty Greeting Offer We!

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THESPIS RECORDING: [Those NEGASSers who enjoyed the THESPIS screened at our January meeting  - and those who missed it and are now kicking themselves – will be glad to know about this recording, by some of the same folks who were involved with the Buxton performance we saw] Believing that our recent production of the THESPIS with the Bruce Montgomery score was special, we engaged a professional studio from Philadelphia to make quality audio and video recordings of the show. They set up shop for our opening night and used that show to adjust their microphones, cameras, and recording decks for the real recording session the next evening.

The master recordings for both are digital. For the video they used three digital cameras, one dead center of the first row of the balcony plus two at orchestra level, one left and one right with zoom lenses. All three recorded the entire performance. The audio was recorded with multiple micro phones covering the stage, the orchestra, and the audience. The multi-track audio will be mixed into a stereo format and produced as a two-CD set. The video will be edited and produced in VHS format with the sound track being taken from the audio recording, giving the video better sound than is normal for VHS, although not as good as that found on a CD.

Copies can be ordered of either. Each is US$32. Domestic shipping & handling charges for either or both will be $3.00. I haven’t figured out foreign shipping charges but will do so on a case by case basis. I also haven’t addressed the issue of handling checks in currencies other than US dollars, but I’m sure I can find a solution that doesn’t cause either you or our Society to take a significant hit. Let me know if you're interested and we'll find a solution.

If you’d like one or the other or both, please mail me at my home address a check payable to the G & S Society of Chester County for the proper total plus the shipping and handling charge. [The recording and copying was going to be handled at the end of January – so We suggest you get in touch with him to make sure there’s a copy for you before sending any money! – mlc]

-- KELVIN L. KEAN

G & S Society of Chester County
321 James Mill Road
Elverson,  PA 19520-8719
kelvin@ptdprolog.net

-- mlc 

IDA PIANO-VOCAL SCORES New member Dave Leigh writes: I have just completed a new edition of the vocal score of IDA. My edition is clear, easy to read, free of the changes to the show that have crept in from performance tradition, and is, to my knowledge the only edition of the vocal score to contain all the dialogue. The cost is $15, and it will be available from me as of March 10.

-- DAVID LEIGH

From other communications, We gather that this score has its own quirks – e.g., some text has been based on Reginald Allen’s The First-Night Gilbert and Sullivan rather than standard 20th-Century readings.   David’s address is Dave Leigh, 57 Theodore Rd., Newton Center, MA 02459-2727; his e-mail is preeta2@excite.comBTW – there is another, informal, edition which contains all the dialog:  The version put together for the Sudbury Savoyards’ production of several years ago.  Copies of this version are being made for NEGASS, and will be available to borrow – not to purchase - during the LMLO meeting.

  – mlc

G&S EXHIBIT AT HARVARD A reminder: The third lecture by F.W. Wilson in conjunction with the Gilbert and Sullivan Exhibition at Harvard will take place in Tuesday, April 3, 2001 at 4:00 p.m. in the Forum Room of the Lamont Library on the Harvard Campus. The exhibition continues in the Harvard College Theatre Collection in the Pusey Library through Friday, April 13. This last lecture in the series will focus on the role of Richard D'Oyly Carte in the G&S legacy.  [Alessandra Kingsford sent Us a clipping from Harvard Magazine containing prints of some of the gorgeous images on view at the Exhibition – what treasures!- mlc]

&&&  A major new G&S website is in progress. Compiled and maintained by Frederic Woodbridge Wilson, Curator of the Harvard College Theatre Collection, this website will, when finished, have everything anyone wanted to know about G&S. Just the topics, as listed at http://lyceum.fas.harvard.edu/ , are enough to excite one’s curiosity. [Later correction - that site is now pass-word protected. Visit http://arcadia.org/ instead. - mlc]        

--  DON SMITH 

CLIPPINGS COLLECTION AT HARVARD  A NEGASSer e-mailed this update:  I have just got to the part of the January Trumpet Bray where you mention the exhibit at Harvard and then quote Dame Rumor regarding the existence of a collection of press clippings "about G&S performances in the US during the first half of the 20th century..."  I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt whatever that the collection exists but your description of it is inaccurate.

First, it is in the research area of the Harvard College Theatre Collection, a different building entirely from Lamont Library.

The clipping collection is not limited to G&S, the US, or the first half of the 20th century, although G&S is the focus of our interest, of course

In the early 1970's, Connie Thompson, then of Concord, California, was in the process of compiling a bibliographic listing of all things published about G&S, including magazine and newspaper articles.  I was living in Boston at the time and, in support of her effort, I went to the Harvard College Theatre Collection first around 1972, I think.  I examined the G&S clippings, organized them, identified them and paid to have them microfilmed.  Connie would then purchase from Harvard a copy of the film of the portion I had completed at any given time.  Even after I moved to New Jersey, I would return each summer for a week's work at this project for several years.  In the course of this, I handled nearly every press clipping that was in the collection up to about 1980.  There were problems with the contrast on the last microfilms made, so the written identifications were mostly washed out and not legible, and the last bit of the G&S material at that point never did get filmed at all, but a good deal was done and from that I can tell you something of the collection.

It is organized by topic.  Within G&S there are folders for each of the 14 operas, for D'Oyly Carte Company, and for many of the works of G without S and S without G, etc.  It includes not only newspaper clippings, but also some magazine clippings.  (I recall, for example, a great article from Life Magazine in the 1930's, covering The Savoy Company of Philadelphia as they toured their annual production to New Orleans - traveling by private train, cast, crew, set and all.)

In the 1920's and 30's, the Theatre Collection clearly subscribed to a commercial clipping service, at least for the New York City papers.  As a result, they have extremely good coverage of the performances at Castle Garden, for example.  But they always had other sources, presumably individuals sending in clips of interest.  So there are clippings covering G&S activities well into the 1970's, and I'm sure they have continued to add to the collection since then.  Oh, yes, the collection goes back past 1900, and includes some materials from England.  There were a few tattered clips of first night reviews - the "real" first nights, the ones at the Savoy in London.  These were from the later works, of course.

In parallel with the clipping collection is a theatre program collection. Again organized by the name of the work - one box of MIKADO programs, another of GONDOLIERS, etc.  Some time before I got into this, they had distributed the facsimile programs from The First Night Gilbert & Sullivan throughout this program collection.  I made it a point to inform the staff of the nature and rarity of reproductions and I hope they brought them back together with the book itself.

Anyone who has attended a production of Harvard G&S, at least into the 1980's (the last time I did so) knows that they have a tradition of reproducing an authentic 19th century Savoy Theatre program, with modifications to show their cast, etc., as their program.  It is from this collection, both the facsimiles and the actual programs in the collection, that they get those images.

I also recall seeing summer theatre programs from the late 1940's for G&S performed on Cape Cod, long before Oberlin or CLOC moved in there.  They also have a complete collection of D'Oyly Carte Centenary Season Programs, and an incomplete selection of programs from the International G&S Festival. I know because I donated them.

I don't know how accessible this part of the theatre collection is to someone who simply walks off the street, but I imagine anyone with a Harvard connection can get access.  Certainly anyone with a valid research interest can do so.  Unfortunately, the Theatre Collection, unlike the current G&S display, is not open on weekends or evenings.  When I was working on this little project, they kept strict business hours of 9-5 and closed for an hour at lunchtime, too.

The clipping collection does not cover everything you might expect.  For example, I recall little about the 1901 MIT GRAND DUKE there, although the Boston papers of the day gave that activity some attention.  However, anyone who can get there when it is open, and has the least interest in such things, will find it fascinating.  I commend it to all NEGASSers, and recommend that they support it at least by donating press clippings when possible, especially for significant out of area performances, which are less likely to reach the Collection in these times of limited finances.

A donated clipping should be an original cut from a paper (although I suppose a good photocopy would be acceptable these days).  Mark the sources of the clipping carefully and legibly in pencil in a margin or other open space.  Note at least the name and city of publication of the paper and the date of publication if it is not printed on the clip.  the section and page number can also be helpful if noted.  Never, NEVER apply any form of tape to a clipping intended for donation.  If the clip is in two parts because, for example, the story was "continued on page 24C", put both parts in an envelope or folder, folding the paper as few times as possible, and let the professional staff deal with how to keep them together.

Sorry for running on and on, but this is one of my petty enthusiasms, and one I've not been able to do much about for the last several years.      

--  PETER ZAVON 

 

AND FOR YAM, I SHOULD GET -  Ellen Spear subscribes to a mailing list called A.Word.A.Day which provides vocabulary enhancement through a daily e-mailed definition. She writes:  …today's word -- tokology, meaning midwifery or obstetrics, from Greek toko = child, childbirth -- got me thinking about Gilbert's line in MIKADO: ...and for yam I should get toko, meaning if I embrace you with too much passion, childbirth might result.  What do you think?  I've never seen this explanation before (though I make no claims to thorough scholarship)… My speculation about Gilbert's inserting such a joke is only that.  I think if Gilbert had that in mind, it would be a private joke and maybe he'd let a simpatico friend or two (male of course) in on it.  You might publish it in the Bray, with appropriate comments.  It is a tantalizing coincidence, and Gilbert knew at least some Greek.  (According to the concierge at Grim's Dyke, Gilbert was not only a flirt, but had affairs.)

We replied, and submit to Our readers:   The story I've heard is that “getting toko for yam” was a slang expression meaning that you'd get punishment instead of a treat.  Somehow I suspect that Gilbert, in his drive to create Family Entertainment for the Proper Victorian, would not knowingly  have used  a term with such a personal and private implication.  Remember, pregnancy and childbirth were not matters for polite conversation in that period, and women strove to  hide the embarrassment of either from all!

Anybody have more a scholarly response? --  mlc  

 

TOPSY TURVY QUESTIONS  A visitor to the NEGASS web site asks: In Topsy Turvy, just before the first performance of MIKADO, George Grossmith is shown shooting some kind of unspecified drug into his arm. The implication is clear that he's an addict. Does this have any basis in fact? He lived to 65 and was productive all his life, which seems unlike a druggie.

Don Smith replies: Yes. Morphine (which was certainly legal at that time.) And Janice Dallas adds:  These were answered on SavoyNet… If I recall rightly: Grossmith had terrible stage fright.  He used heroin? to calm himself down. She adds, quoting a SavoyNet posting: ”When he died in Folkestone in 1912 the coroner found his arm blue from the needle marks.”

Second, Jessie Bond had some kind of horrible-looking sore on her leg and had to use a cane. Again, no mention of this anywhere else but in the movie. How come? Dramatic license?

Don Smith replies: It comes from her autobiography. And Janice Dallas adds: Jessie Bond got a very bad bruise on her leg, I believe during an American tour.  It went bad and took a very long time to heal.  She was a trouper and kept performing to the best of her abilities even with it.

I'd be very grateful for any information.

DAVID PETZAL 

Thanks for asking, David! By the way – the rumour on SavoyNet, gleaned by Janice Dallas, is that this February Topsy-Turvy won the British Evening Standard Film Award for Best Film and Jim Broadbent won the award for Best Actor.   - mlc

PALACE OF TRUTH ON THE WEB:  Arthur Robinson, who has edited a version of this play by Gilbert, recently announced on SavoyNet that Jim Farron has posted THE PALACE OF TRUTH on the G&S Archive.  Both Web and Word versions are available at:

http://diamond.boisestate.edu/gas/other_gilbert/html/other_gilbert.html#1870

Arthur writes: I first read this play in 1974 and found it hilarious.  I'm slightly more critical now, but I still enjoy it, and I think it's important for an understanding of Gilbert's later work. 

ARTHUR ROBINSON 

Reviews

MITG&SP AT THE ZOO   Due to the short rehearsal period, workshop status, and the location of the performance, I admit my expectations for the MIT Gilbert and Sullivan Players' production of THE ZOO were rather low.  I was surprised to discover that this cast and crew not only overcame these obstacles, but they entertained me despite them.

THE ZOO, by Arthur Sullivan and Bolton Rowe, is a short, one-act play set in the London Zoological Gardens, in Victorian times.  Directors Rebecca Haines and Stephanie Wang did a wonderful job of making this a "full-length" presentation by prefacing it with an abridged performance of TRIAL, set on a stage at the zoo.  All of this is explained to us by a charming tour guide (Ishani Das) as she leads us across the wide expanse of Morss Hall past the snack bar, to the TRIAL  stage, and back into the main plot of THE ZOO.

Morss Hall (used daily as an MIT dining room) has never been an ideal performance space.  For such a difficult space, Mike Bromberg and Brian Trimmer did an admirable job of lighting the minimal but credible set, although it wasn't quite bright enough to convince me that I was outdoors. The room also tends to gobble up sound, yet I could clearly understand all of the dialog, although Eliza's (Victoria Davis) songs required close attention to comprehend them.  [Our two cents – strange, but We had no trouble at all with Eliza’s diction – although We did find Laetitia’s lovely tones hard to distill into words – mlc] I usually don't care to attend performances that don't have at least a 4 instrument orchestra, however, I quickly forgot about that after the first few notes on the keyboard (played by Katherine Bryant) filled the room.

The short length of the show doesn't lend itself to much in the way of character development.  In spite of this fact, the leads did a commendable job portraying the two pairs of lovers, Eliza and Tom Brown (Seth Bisen-Hersh), Laetitia (Ana Albir) and Aesculapius Carboy (David Euresti), and the melodramatic, villainous father, Grinder (Cemocan Yesil).  Many of the chorus members had memorable character personalities, as well.  ZOO is also a bit short on plot as well; money resolves all woes.  There were none of the topsy-turvy plot twists to surprise us in Gilbert and Sullivan fashion, but then again, this is Sullivan without Gilbert.

I will close with an example of how much I enjoyed this production of ZOO (with a little TRIAL tossed in).  I videotape many theatre productions.  Returning home afterwards, I usually spot check the night's work to make sure everything recorded properly and I don't need to do it over.  Rather than fast-forwarding to spot check the tape, I continued watching the entire show, for the second time that night.             

RUTH JEDLINSKY 

Visit http://www-tech.mit.edu/V121/N1/zoo.1a.html for a complete review by Lance Nathan  of the MIT newspaper, The Tech– mlc]

GONDOLIERS BY THE SUDBURY SAVOYARDS  Having never before seen a production by the Sudbury Savoyards, my first reaction upon entering the auditorium was, "Wow!  How will they ever fill that huge stage?"  The answer turned out to be, "Delightfully, thank you!" 

Stage director Kathy Lague and music director Stephen Malionek did wonderful things with the specified four-and-twenty contadine and the gondoliers-turned-courtiers of Barataria. A few of the early solos were a bit soft, but on the whole the ensemble numbers were performed with enthusiasm and beauty.  I had no difficulty hearing both singers and orchestra clearly, and the diction was as clear as anyone could request, desire, or demand.  The second act dance number (Dance a Cachucha) in particular was great fun to watch and to hear.

Among the leads, I quite enjoyed Ted Koban's Don Alhambra, full of a quiet, understated authority even through his energetic songs. Ephraim Herrera and Todd Allan Long were as cheerfully simple-minded as Marco and Giuseppe must be, and their wives, Gianetta and Tessa, were well sung and acted by Amy E. Allen and Deirdre Hatch.

Unfortunately, while the chorus scenes were beautifully realized, many of the smaller numbers seemed to have been overlooked.  For example, Dennis O'Brien's rendition of the Duke of Plaza-Toro's "In Enterprise of Martial Kind" was well sung, but was hardly staged at all, missing many comedic possibilities. My biggest complaint is the lighting of some scenes. For example, Try We Life-Long and In a Contemplative Fashion were performed on a dark stage, with each singer barely illuminated in a small spot as he or she sang.  While the intention may have been to highlight the individual singers, I found the effect quite distracting. Furthermore, this effect required each singer to remain in one spot throughout the number, which is not very interesting to watch. Racing spotlights during some chorus numbers were also distracting.

On the other hand, there were quite a few wonderful moments.  Colleen O'Shaughnessy and Ben Stevens as Casilda and Luiz got quite a well-deserved laugh when her haughty disdain and his humble servility turned to sudden rapture as soon as her parents left the stage.  A Regular Royal Queen was playful and fun as it should be. The appearance of the "courtiers" in Act II, identically dressed except for sashes labelling them, "L. H. Chancellor," "L. H. Drummerboy," "L. H. Executioner," and so on, including of course, "King," (with a crown split in half, one on each half-king's head) was quite funny.  And the interplay between the Duke and the kings as he attempted to address "the gentleman whom my daughter married," with both kings assuming they must be the other one, was hilarious.

Overall, the Sudbury Savoyards certainly "left me with feelings of pleasure," not to mention many of Sullivan's tunes running through my head.  I look forward to seeing more of their performances.

-- BRIAN BERMACK 

PIRATES IN MAINE A greatly anticipated diversion from the New England Winter is the annual trip to Ellsworth, Maine to see the Hancock County G&S Society undertake its latest excursion into the G&S canon. This year's offering of PIRATES made the 6-hour drive all the more worthwhile. Veteran Director Dede Johnson and Conductor Fred Goldrich (in his second year with the company) gave us a bright, lively, fast-paced production with excellent staging, great delivery, some superb singing, and NO pork-pies!

After a brisk overture the curtain rose on the usual pirates camp - rocks to either side and back, some trees - and a flurry of activity which included drinking, gambling, a 'girl' jumping out of a large birthday cake, a pirate trying to hang a 'Happy Birtday [sic] Fred' banner throughout the opening chorus (it kept falling down and he kept putting it up!) As usual, there was so much going on by individual characters that it was impossible in one viewing to catch everything; two viewings didn't help much more. The chorus ended with the Pirate King presenting Frederic with an eye patch and Samuel in a game of pin-the-tail-on the donkey - getting Ruth instead. For the number of men in the chorus, the sound was rather low-powered, even with the Sergeant of Police as a pirate in the first act. There was the usual motley collection of costumes, although Frederic's was not particularly alarming, and he didn't change in Act II, except for putting on a coat over what he was already wearing. Steve Estey was a somewhat low-key Samuel and I wondered if the role was too high for him since his last appearance was in SORCERER as John Wellington Wells.

Debra Hangge as Ruth presented as clear an exposition of the plot in her song as I have ever heard and her comic timing in dialog was spectacular. Roland Dube as the Pirate King, in a costume last worn by Captain Hook, provided an energetic and masterful figure. Better far to live and die was done as an MTV video, with the Pirate King in the apex of a triangle, Samuel and Frederic to either side and behind, then two more rows of Pirates - and carrying out moves and gestures in unison to the song. Despite the MTV reference, it was very well done and it worked. Roland did, on occasion, betray his background as patterman (KoKo and Lord Chancellor) and lose some vocal tone for characterization.

Francis John Vogt as Frederic has a wonderful voice and is a quite decent actor so that the scena between Ruth and Frederic was carried off with great sincerity and believability. One innovation which I had not seen before was for Ruth to vocalize her anguish in response to the offstage voices of the girls. "What grace - (Whimper) -What delicacy (groan) - what refinement (Moan)! and Ruth - Ruth told me she was beautiful (AGONY)." Another innovation - the offstage chorus was Over the bright blue sea, not the preview of Climbing over rocky mountain. Quite a surprise, but it fit.

The entrance of the Major-General's daughters, accompanied by the usual crew of matrons and servants, was every bit as colorful and lively as one would like. The action was accompanied by the usual collection of picnic games - ending in one of Dede Johnson's classic freezes during the playout at the end of the singing.

Frederic's entrance did not seem particularly alarming and only about half the chorus had mastered the art of hopping on one foot. Maiden Breast was very well sung although a bit slow to my taste, and with a few Elvis flourishes thrown in. As usual, throughout the song, Kate was swooning and ready to throw herself at Frederic, but was continually restrained by Edith and Isabel. Mabel entered over the rocks at stage left, but without a spotlight, even when she began singing. Bronwyn Kortge was in her usual excellent form both in singing and acting, keeping Frederic on tenterhooks through Poor wandering one and the subsequent duet, although he finally got his kiss at the end of it.

The pirates’ entrance was not very surreptitious or hidden, requiring a bit of willing suspension of disbelief. The subsequent chorus was lively and full of action, although it wasn't always clear who was capturing whom. There was another freeze on Hold, monsters! dissolving on Samuel's line. John Cunningham, as Major-General Stanley, entered dressed as a Prussian Officer and, with his facial hair, looking for all the world like Hindenburg (the Field-Marshall, not the blimp.) He delivered a clear, well-characterized and very well sung Modern major-general but was clearly out of breath by the end of it. It was a pleasure to hear some nice vocal quality in the role.

For all that some of the inner brotherhood may complain about it, when it is as well done as this was, the 'orphan-often dialog' is still capable of getting good response and laughs from the audience. Hail poetry was extremely effective and one of many highlights of the production. During the Pirate King's invocation, the lights went down, the chorus moved in measured stride (three steps, then stop) into position, on the first note of the song, the lights went full up to reveal a series of semicircles with the men at the back, swords drawn pointing forward.

The end of the finale saw Ruth getting the bum's rush from two of the servants and the Pirate King and Major-General each pulling up larger and larger flags with the MG having the last word as a super-sized Union Jack was unfurled from the flies at the end of the playout.

The second act opened with the MG pacing before the curtain, to be joined by the daughters (in matching night-dress with pink or green shawls, although Mabel still wore her day-time outfit.) Despite good attention to diction throughout, the usual weak spot appeared in the absence of final consonants in the opening chorus. (One could see the 'p’ being said, but not vocalized enough to be heard.)

Frederic entered without any light and the subsequent dialog between him and Mabel was unlit. The police proved to be one of the more geriatric set, stiff-legged, rolling, and in gray helmets and non-matching uniforms which looked like they had last served for the Salvation Army in Guys and Dolls. They were also so low powered that they were barely audible during the double chorus - even with the MG singing along. With such a crew, Irv Hodgkin as Sergeant acted like he knew they were in for trouble from the pirates.

The entrance of Ruth (in Pirate costume) and the Pirate King was most traditional and the scenes captured with great sincerity. One highlight of the production was the way in which people talking to each other actually looked at each other and interacted.

The scene between Frederic and Mabel was sincere. Their singing and acting were at the highest level to gain sympathy for what they were going through, yet done in such a way that the humor came through when appropriate.

Irv Hodgkin delivered a resonant Policeman's lot with his uncoordinated band as counterfoils. Their hiding on the pirates’ approach required another suspension of disbelief as they merely stood and acted as statues. The pirates' entry was finished with a kick-line; they hid by standing behind or next to the policemen. It was a pleasure to hear a melodic Sighing softly to the river with the police and pirates interacting in various ballet moves.

There was a traditional ending which came all too quickly on a very enjoyable production. Not without its flaws (some of the orchestra were inexperienced musicians) but a show worth seeing if one is up in Maine during the summer when Hancock County does its rerun in July.

-- J. DONALD SMITH   

[Visit http://ellsworthme.org/gsshc/pirates2001.html to see a few pictures of this production – mlc]

AS FAR AWAY AS YESTERDAY…  NEGASSers will be saddened to hear of the recent death of Lora Chase, the beloved stage director for the Savoyard Light Opera Company of Carlisle, MA, who passed away quietly in her sleep on February 28.  On inquiry, We learn that memorial services will be private. Expressions of sympathy may be made in Lora's memory to the American Diabetes Assoc., 1 Bromfield St., Boston, MA 02108.

ABOUT CONTRIBUTING TO THE TRUMPET BRAY:

All contributions are welcome, of course - but, strictly speaking, only activities and articles relating to G&S ought to be published. (…although an occasional Yes We Know It's Not slips by when the subject relates to a promising activity presented by long-standing and active member of NEGASS.)

  1. E-mail is the best way to send things! - marion@leedscarroll.com or negass@iname.com will get to Us equally well.
  2. The US Postal Service (aka "snail mail") is fine, too - send letters, preferably typed, or hand-written very clearly so that We can read and correctly reproduce names, dates, etc. - to NEGASS, PO Box 367, Arlington, MA 02476-0004.
  3. The Telephone is a very last choice. We do have an answering machine, but spellings of names and specifics of dates are awfully hard to be sure of when delivered by Word of Mouth (Oricular or otherwise), and We rarely have time to phone people back to check details. Please use the phone only if you have no other choice!
 -- mlc   

 

Note: Very old issues of The Trumpet Bray are still available in The G & S Archives. We hope to create a more nearly complete archive of the Bray in the future.

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