The Sorcerer

Those of us who regularly perform as members of the chorus in theatrical productions have to admit that we’ve all thought about what it would be like … if not fervently wished … to perform in a principal role.  This alternate lyric song, written by Ernest and Stephanie Brody, and sung to the tune of “Dear Friends, Take Pity On My Lot,” gives voice to that quiet ambition!

This song was performed at the company’s 1997 Last Gasp Cast Bash, by members of the chorus and the show’s directors.

Chorus:

Dear friends, take pity on our lot,
     We’re members of the chorus.
We’ve often wished – as would not,
     F’r a principal role for us.
For years we’ve hankered for a role
     With solos, quints and quartets,
But if the awful truth be told,
Our voices really aren’t so bold,
They couldn’t quite support it.
Not quite support it.
     Oh!
We really, really want a part,
     We want one very dearly.
We really want a part,
     We want one dearly!

Directors:

I’m sorry you’re not what we want,
     Your voice is average merely.

Chorus:

We really want a part,
     We want one dearly!

We know why we don’t get a part,
     Our singing’s average merely.
We’d like to suffer for our art,
     Sing louder and more clearly.
A sweet vibrato would be best,
     A voice both rich and pearly …
With chorus music we’re impressed,
But if the truth must be confessed,
     We want a solo dearly.
     We want one dearly!
Though with chorus music we’re impressed,
     We want a solo dearly,
A solo would be best,
    We want one dearly.

Directors:

We heard you sing,
     You’re not so hot,
We can’t use you,
     Not nearly!

Chorus:

We want a solo part,
     We want one dearly!

The directors for our 2010 production of The Sorcerer decided not to cast the role of Mrs. Partlet as an elderly, lower class women, but as a young, desirable woman of “questionable” reputation.  Their concept was that it would be much more humorous for Sir Marmaduke to be mismatched with Miss Partlet, a young “gold-digger,” rather than with a person of a lower social position.

This alternative lyric song written by Holly Windle and sung to the tune of “I Rejoice That It’s Decided” by Jim Ahrens, Walydn Benbenek, Erin Capello, Paul Coate and Victoria Valencour.

Alexis:

I resist this odd affair, it
     Casts my future into doubt.
When the title I inherit,
     Partlet will have cleaned us out.

Quintet:

She will fool him, fleece him, rule him,
     Spend his money, sell his books.
All the neighbors ridicule him,
     Though they do enjoy her looks.

Aline:

No exhausted, ancient widow,
     Full of petulance and fears,
But a sharp and sexy kiddo
     Who’ll outlive him many years.

Sir Marmaduke:

No high-born and gracious lady
     Like the mother of Aline.
Who cares if her past is shady?
     I feel like I’m seventeen!

Quintet:

She will hold him, tease him, scold him,
     Flirt with footmen, drive him mad.
Someday soon she will cuckold him.
     Things look rough for dear old Dad.

Miss Parlet:

Let dear Constance go for vicars –
     Dry as dust and poor as mice.
Those who get into my knickers
     Must be rich or else no dice.

Dr. Daly:

All the village drank the potion
     Which was mixed into the tea.
How ironic:  in devotion,
     All my flock is leading me!

Others:

All his flock is leading he!

Quintet:

She will lull him, cheat him, gull him,
     Mock his manners, make them smile.
But, although “numbskull” they call him,
     He will think it all worthwhile.

Alexis & Dr. Daly:

But, although “numbskull” they call him,
     He will think it all worthwhile.
     He will think: it’s all worthwhile.

Aline & Miss Parlet:

He will think it all worthwhile.
     He will think: it’s all worthwhile.

Sir Marmaduke:

All worthwhile, all worthwhile.
It’s all worthwhile.

W.S. Gilbert found it quite amusing that women would fawn over young clergymen, as fervently as or even more so than they might over military men or men of high rank.  While our attitudes about such matters may be changed in the twenty-first century … we still enjoy the humor!

This following alternative lyric song was first performed in 1997 and again in 2010, at the Last Gasp Cast Bash events for those year’s productions of The Sorcerer.  It was performed in 1997 by Jim Ahrens, Waldyn Benbenek, Mather Dolph, Joseph Andrews, Zoe Kuester, and members of the chorus, and in 2010 by Jim Ahrens, Waldyn Benbenek, Mather Dolph, Erin Capello, Paul Coate and members of the chorus.

Sir Marmaduke:

Stroll, strut and beguile,
Mannish all into tomorrow,
Sweeps them off of their feet,
Leaving men huddled in sorrow.
Groveling on the ground,
Begging their sweets for a notion,
His song … I’ll be bound,
For it has wooed all our women.
His song … I’ll be bound,
For it has wooed all our women!

Men:

None so cunning as he,
     At wooing our fair company.
Ha ha, ha ha, at wooing our fair company.

Trio:

See, see they wink,
Because he’s so comely.
In petticoats slink,
They’ll take him homely!
Their hearts all melt within his power.
Then the men all have to cower!
Then the men all have to cower!
Have to cower!

Dr. Daly:

I just don’t know why,
Women around me just follow.
Scaring away all the birds,
Leaving me puling in sorrow.
The way they all talk,
You would think I was liquor.
They swoon, from my walk,
Like they are drunk on the vicar,
They swoon, from my walk,
Like they are drunk on the vicar.

Women:

None so handsome as he,
     We love his extra-strong tea.
Ha ha, ha ha, we love his extra-strong tea!

A unique aspect of The Sorcerer is that the script calls for the cast to fall asleep on stage at the end of the Act I Finale, and still to be sleeping on stage at the beginning of Act II.  

Staging this has been a challenge for The Gilbert & Sullivan Very Light Opera Company and its productions on the Howard Conn Fine Arts Center stage … as the stage has no curtain.  What are the “sleeping” cast members to do?  It’s always seemed inappropriate to have the cast simply stand up and walk off the stage during the intermission in full sight of audience members who are still in the theater.

The directors in the Company’s productions of The Sorcerer have come up with various solutions.  In the 1985 production, the cast “slept” on stage for the entire intermission.  Rumor has it that some actually did fall asleep!  In 1997, the director had a roll drop installed as a part of the set.  The drop came down at the end of Act I, but as it had to be installed halfway up the stage, it was necessary for the entire cast to move to the back half of the stage and fall asleep in a crowded mass.  

In 2010, the director came up with an interesting “mixed solution.”  A third of the cast fell asleep on stage and had to “sleep” on stage during the entire intermission.  A third of the cast wondered off stage to fall asleep … which, of course, made it possible for them to enjoy cookies in the Green Room with the orchestra during intermission!  The final third of the cast, wondered out into the theater lobby, where they “fell asleep.”  It was this final group of cast members who had, perhaps, the toughest assignment, as they were required to sleep, despite the occasional prods and “humorous” comments by audience members.

The following alternative lyric song celebrated this experience.  It was written by Jim Brooks and sung at the 2010 Last Gasp Cast Bash by all the cast members, to the tune of “Oi! Where Be I.”  One note … the song refers to a “rant,” which is an English country dance step that was used in the 2010 production.

Men:

Oi! Why be I, a’sleepin’ in the lobby with all those little brats a’pokin’ me?

Women:

Don’t gripe!  My head is on your knees,
They’re knobby and since the “Places” call, I’ve had to pee!

Men:

Just like you!  Always were the whiner!  

Women:

Please say something kinder, couldn’t you?

Men:

That’s quite a pose, sleepin’ on the table.
Few, I suppose, are quite as able.

Women:

I’m sure that’s true, and it takes willpower.
Laura, wake, us up!  It’s been an hour!

All:

Eh, but we loike to pule!    

Men:

If you’ll rant with me, I know I won’t embarrass you!

Women:

If you’ll rant with me, I’m sure I will not harass you!

Men:

If you’ll rant with me, I’ll look just like an ass with you!

All:

All this will I do if you’ll rant with me!

Women:

If you’ll rant with me, I know I won’t compete with you!

Men:

If you’ll rant with me, I’ll use both my left feet for you!

Women:

If you’ll rant with me, I’ll try to keep a beat with you!

All:

Do “potato chip”, if you’ll rant with me!    
Dislocate a hip, if you’ll rant with me!
Hey, Hey but we loike to pule!