Archive for the ‘Shows’ Category

Orpheus in the Underworld

Wednesday, August 16th, 2017

The Gilbert & Sullivan Very Light Opera Company is pleased to announce that it will present Jacques Offenbach’s  Orpheus in the Underworld, from October 27th through November 19th of 2017.

This production of Orpheus in the Underworld will be directed by Lesley Hendrickson, with Music Direction by Marina Liadova.

Gilbert knew and liked the Offenbach operettas and stated that he hoped to emulate his work, but in a more distinctly British style.  Gilbert was particularly adamant that his plots and staging would allow any Englishman to feel comfortable bringing his wife and daughters to see the shows.  Offenbach’s libretti, after all, were the very definition of “too French!”  Offenbach and his various librettists share Gilbert’s interest in topical satire and character-based humor.  And both liked to see pretty girls on stage — though Gilbert’s chorus ladies were costumed rather more discreetly.

This hilarious, satiric retelling of the Orpheus legend opens on earth.  Orpheus is annoyed with his wife, Eurydice, for cheating on him, as he has long cheated on her.  When she is abducted by her lover, Pluto, and carried off to the underworld, Orpheus is delighted!  He is forced, however, by Public Opinion to visit Mount Olympus to ask for the gods’ help in getting her back.  Everyone ends up in the underworld, but while Pluto, Jupiter and Orpheus are all competing for Eurydice, the rest of gods are there for the party!  As Eurydice sings, “Pleasure is for all time!”

Orpheus in the Underworld was first performed in 1858, and reached London in 1865.  Its success was one of the inspirations for the creation of a home-grown English operetta, and for Richard D’Oyly Carte’s pairing of Gilbert and Sullivan to accomplish it.  Orpheus in the Underworld was revised in 1874 to the full four-act version with chorus, and achieved even greater popularity.  The English adaptation we are using was created for the 1985 English National Opera production.

The cast for this production of Orpheus in the Underworld includes:

Orpheus Jim Ahrens
Eurydice Nelle June Anderson / Jennifer LeDoux
Aristaeus / Pluto Philip Eschweiler
Public Opinion Lara Trujillo
Jupiter Wally Benbenek
Juno Alyssa Burdick
Mars Ryan Johnson
Venus Victoria Valencour
Mercury Eric Mellum
Diana Claudia Finsaas
Dr. Morpheus / John Styx Thore Dosdall
Cupid Maggie Burr
   
Judge Joe Allen
Judge / Bacchus Christopher Michela
Judge Anthony Rohr
   
Love Police Anna Maher
Love Police Sarah Mehle
Love Police Cassie Utt
   
Chorus  
   
Mary Mescher-Benbenek Doug Freeman
Clyde Gerber Ron Giroux
Taylor Ann Grand Eleanor R. Gustafson
Stephen Hage Kaitlin Klemencic
Julia Knoll Jerry Kurek
Blanka Melbostad Eric Pasternack
Rhea Sullivan  
   
Children  
   
Mary Bair Liam Hage
Rhianwyn Hage  
   

Jennifer LeDoux as Eurydice and
Nelle June Anderson as Eurydice
Jim Ahrens as Orpheus

The performances will be at the Howard Conn Fine Arts Center, at Plymouth Congregational Church, located at 1900 Nicollet Avenue South, in Minneapolis.

Friday and Saturday evening performances are at 7:30 p.m.  The Saturday and Sunday matinees are at 2:00 p.m.  For a more detailed performance calendar, visit our Tickets page.

If you would like to be notified about when to order tickets, we invite you to add your name to our mailing list. This way, we will know how to contact you!  We never sell our mailing list to other parties.

An excellent internet resource for information about Orpheus in the Underworld:

Wikipedia – Orpheus in the Underworld

The Gondoliers

Wednesday, July 20th, 2016

Gondoliers Program

The Gondoliers Cast

Directors

Stage Director: Lesley Hendrickson
Music Director: Dr. Randal A. Buikema

Director’s Notes

The Gondoliers, first performed in 1889, is probably the most joyous of the G&S operettas.  The story starts in Venice on the morning of a double wedding of Marco and Giuseppe Palmieri, brother gondolieri.  To be scrupulously impartial (well, maybe), they are about to select their wives though a game of blindman’s bluff.  No sooner are the lucky and agreeable girls swept off to be married when they receive the startling news that one of the couples is about to become the new king and queen of Barataria.  Of course, there are complications (it’s only Act I!) and soon the lovers are parted.  In Act II, the revelation of an unexpected prior claim on one of the bridegrooms throws everyone into confusion and despair until the deus ex machina appears with an unexpected – and perfect – resolution.  So, pretty much par for the course as operetta goes.

In 1891, The Gondoliers was honored as the very first theatrical performance requested by Queen Victoria at Windsor Castle after the death of her beloved Prince Albert, nine years earlier.  It is said that the cheerful quartet about the potential joys of being “a right-down regular royal queen” became a special favorite.  Clearly, the queen was amused.  We hope you will be, too.

Lesley Hendrickson

Ryan Johnson as Giuseppe Palmieri,
Maggie Burr as Tessa,
Blanka Melbostad as Gianetta and
Michael Burton as Marco Palmieri

Two excellent internet resources for information about The Gondoliers:

Wikipedia – The Gondoliers

The Gilbert & Sullivan Archive – The Gondoliers

The Mikado — Summer Concert 2016

Friday, March 18th, 2016

The Gilbert & Sullivan Very Light Opera Company and the Minneapolis Pops Orchestra will present a concert version of Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado, at the Lake Harriet Bandshell, on Saturday July 16th and Sunday, July 17th.

The performances are free and open to the public. There are benches available directly in front of the stage and lots of lawn seating available in the surrounding area. Plan to arrive early to get a good spot as our concerts are one of the most popular events of the summer at the Lake Harriet Bandshell.

The emperor of a far away land has decreed that the act of flirting when not married is punishable by death.  Horrified by this prospect, the leaders of a town appoint the next man condemned as the Lord High Executioner, reasoning that this will prevent future executions since he “cannot cut off another’s head  until he’s cut his own off”. The lyrics and dialogue have been slightly altered to make the setting a mythical empire.  This was done to bring out more clearly Gilbert’s intent to satirize Great Britain’s politics and justice system.

When:
  Saturday, July 16th, 7:30 PM, and Sunday, July 17th, 5:30 PM
     
Where:  

The Lake Harriet Bandshell Minneapolis, MN

Cast of named parts:

Ko Ko cheap tailor, and Lord High Executioner Felix Aguilar Tomlinson
Yum Yum His ward and intended bride Sarah Wind Richens
Pitti Sing His ward Maggie Burr
Peep Bo His ward Sarah Mehle
Katisha Member of the emperor’s court Deb Haas
Nanki Poo Disguised Eric Mellum
Pish Tush Nobleman of the town Tom Berg
Pooh Bah Lord High Everything Else Waldyn Benbenek
Emperor   Christopher Michaela

Get Directions

The Gilbert & Sullivan Very Light Opera Company has collaborated with Jere Lanz and the Minneapolis Pops Orchestra for many years in presenting a concert version of one of the Gilbert and Sullivan operettas.

Two excellent internet resources for information about The Mikado:

Wikipedia – The Mikado

The Gilbert & Sullivan Archive – The Mikado

Iolanthe

Tuesday, August 18th, 2015

Iolanthe Program

Iolanthe Cast

Winner of the 2016 BroadwayWorld Minneapolis Awards for Best Director of a Musical and the Best Ensemble Performance in a Musical!

Directors

Stage Director: Joe Andrews
Music Director: Dr. Randal A. Buikema

Director’s Notes

Iolanthe opened in London and New York on November 25, 1882, marking the first time any show had a simultaneous premier on two different continents—a feat that remains unique.  It was the seventh collaboration of Gilbert and Sullivan and directly followed a string of three huge successes for the duo: HMS Pinafore, Pirates of Penzance, and Patience.  London’s Savoy Theatre was still relatively new and had just converted from gas lights to full electricity.  Iolanthe was the first show to take full advantage of this new technology and the twinkling electric wands for the fairies were the talk of the town!

Sullivan did not write most of his overtures.  He would usually turn this task over to a trusted associate, having them weave his melodies into a 4-5 minute introduction to the opera.  Iolanthe’s gorgeous overture, however, is an anomaly and was written by the master himself.  It stands as my favorite and surely one of the finest overtures of all their 14 collaborations.

I performed in the GSVLOC’s 1992 production of Iolanthe as Lord Tolloller.  It remains, to my mind, one of the most beautiful productions of the company.  This was due in no small part to the director, Lesley Hendrickson, who was new in town at the time.  There are several homages (“that word is French!”) to Lesley in this production.  I owe her a debt of gratitude for graciously allowing me to dip into her immense well of creativity.

This is the first production I have directed for the GSVLOC that doesn’t involve a “concept” (2007’s Mikado) or a major rewrite (2014’s The Grand Duke).  We’ve moved the time frame up from the 1880s to the 1910s to take advantage of the more beautiful styles of the Edwardian era (Downton Abbey, anyone?), and we’ve modified a line here and there to clarify Gilbert’s intent or to touch—ever so lightly—on something regionally specific or au courant.  But I promise, we’ve been very careful to honor the spirit of the text and not stray too far.

This company is a unique institution in the Twin Cities that offers beautifully rendered annual productions of the great operettas of W.S. Gilbert & Sir Arthur Sullivan.  We do this largely through volunteers—or quasi-volunteers (“a Latin word!”)—who love these shows and want to ensure that our region has access to the full repertoire of G&S classics.  Your attendance today helps us fulfill our mission, and any contributions you can make will help to ensure that we will be able to do this well into the future.  Please consider giving a gift to the company if you believe that ebullient, family-friendly productions (with full orchestra—so rare these days!) such as the one you’re about to see should be a part of our community in the years to come.  I hope you enjoy our production of Iolanthe!

Joe Andrews

Scott Benson as the Lord Chancellor,
Sarah Wind Richens as Phyllis and
Eric Sargent as Strephon

Two excellent internet resources for information about Iolanthe:

Wikipedia – Iolanthe

The Gilbert & Sullivan Archive – Iolanthe

Trial by Jury – Minnesota Fringe Festival

Tuesday, July 14th, 2015

Trial by Jury Program

Trial by Jury Cast

Directors

Stage Director: Lesley Hendrickson
Music Director: Marina Liadova

Director’s Notes

Trial by Jury was the only one-act opera Gilbert & Sullivan wrote together and the very first of the operas they wrote for D’Oyly Carte.  Their one previous collaboration, Thespis (1871), had only moderate success and had not been a pleasant experience for Gilbert.  With all the known copies of that score lost in a warehouse fire, today we have no way of knowing how good Sullivan’s efforts had been on behalf of Gilbert’s libretto.  At the time there seemed no reason why the two would ever join forces again.  Then, three years later Richard D’Oyly Carte needed a curtain raiser for his upcoming production of Offenbach’s La Perichole.  Gilbert already had a great little one-act to offer him, and the producer proposed that Sullivan set it to music.  It seems time is a great healer.  Less than three months later, Trial was a huge hit and is now the world’s most-produced English language one-act opera, not to mention the happy reboot of an immensely successful artistic partnership.

Lesley Hendrickson

Felix Aguilar-Tomlinson as Edwin, the Defendant,
Steve Hendrickson as the Learned Judge and
Grace Lowe as Angelina, the Plaintiff

Two excellent internet resources for information about Trial by Jury:

Wikipedia – Trial by Jury

The Gilbert & Sullivan Archive – Trial by Jury

H. M. S. Pinafore – Summer Concert 2015

Tuesday, April 14th, 2015

The Gilbert & Sullivan Very Light Opera Company and the Minneapolis Pops Orchestra will present a concert version of Gilbert and Sullivan’s H.M.S. Pinafore, at the Lake Harriet Bandshell, on Saturday July 11th and Sunday, July 12th.

The performances are free and open to the public.  There are benches available directly in front of the stage and lots of lawn seating available in the surrounding area.  Plan to arrive early to get a good spot as our concerts are one of the most popular events of the summer at the Lake Harriet Bandshell.

H.M.S. Pinafore is one of the most popular Gilbert & Sullivan operettas, due to Sullivan’s wonderfully infectious tunes and Gilbert’s very well-constructed libretto.  The opera gently satirize one of Gilbert’s favorite themes: Love between members of different social classes.  The gentlemanly Captain of the Pinafore, who claims that he would never swear at his crew (What, Never?), does not know that his daughter has fallen in love with a common sailor serving on her father’s ship.  Meanwhile, the Captain has arranged for her to marry the First Lord of the Admiralty, Sir Joseph Porter.  Sir Joseph himself has risen from humble beginnings to gain his office by political acumen, despite having never gone to sea!  And the Captain himself fancies a poor bumboat woman.  Fear not: it all works out in the end.  Hip, hip, hoorah!

When: Saturday, July 11th, 7:30 PM, and Sunday, July 12th, 5:30 PM
Where:

The Lake Harriet Bandshell Minneapolis, MN

(Click Here for Directions)

The Gilbert & Sullivan Very Light Opera Company has collaborated with Jere Lanz and the Minneapolis Pops Orchestra for many years in presenting a concert version of one of the Gilbert and Sullivan operettas.

Two excellent internet resources for information about H.M.S. Pinafore:

Wikipedia – H.M.S. Pinafore

The Gilbert & Sullivan Archive – H.M.S. Pinafore

Trial by Jury – Minnesota Fringe Festival 2015

The Gilbert & Sullivan Very Light Opera Company is pleased to announce that it will present Trial by Jury, at the Minnesota Fringe Festival, between July 30th and August 9th, 2015.

This production of Trial by Jury will be directed by Lesley Hendrickson, with Music Direction by Marina Liadova.

Trial by Jury is a comic opera in one act, with music by Arthur Sullivan and libretto by W. S. Gilbert and has been acclaimed the most successful British one-act operetta of all time! The lovely Angelina is suing Edwin for “a breach of promise of marriage” and on the way captivates the heart of the Learned Judge. Gilbert’s lighthearted satire and Sullivan’s delightful music combine to poke good natured fun at the British legal system.

The success of Trial by Jury launched the famous series of thirteen collaborative works between Gilbert and Sullivan that came to be known as the Savoy Operas.

Our company’s production will feature a fourteen piece orchestra and our cast will include Ivey Award winning Twin Cities actor, Steve Hendrickson, as the Learned Judge.

Poster design by Tom McGregor and Mary Olson

Original artwork by Dennis Lo

Performance Schedule …

Thursday, July 30th     5:30 – 6:30 pm
Saturday, August 1st   4:00 – 5:00 pm
Sunday, August 2nd     8:30 – 9:30 pm
Thursday, August 6th   8:30 – 9:30 pm
Sunday, August 9th      1:00 – 2:00 pm

Performances will be at the University of Minnesota’s Rarig Center’s Proscenium Theater, 330 21st Avenue South, Minneapolis.

Directions – Google Map

Minnesota Fringe Festival tickets will be available at: Minnesota Fringe Festival

Felix Aguilar-Tomlinson as Edwin, the Defendant, Steve Hendrickson as the Learned Judge and Grace Lowe as Angelina, the Plaintiff

The Cast of Trial by Jury includes:

     The Learned Judge           Steve Hendrickson
     The Plaintiff                    Grace Lowe
     The Defendant                 Felix Aguilar-Tomlinson
     Counsel for the Plaintiff    Jim Ahrens
     Usher                               Ryan Johnson
     Forman of the Jury           Waldyn Benbenek

     The Bridesmaids

     Victoria Erickson       Carly Hayes
     Kate Lamb                Amanda Weis McGivern

     The Defendant’s “Floozies”

     Sarah Richens            Madeline Veenker

     The Jury and Public Chorus

     Mary Mescher Benbenek   Scott Benson
     Tanya Brody                     James Brooks
     John Byram                      Mary Gregory
     Stephen Hage                  Ivar Hendrickson
     Shawn Holt                      Julia Knoll
     Holly MacDonald               John Orbison
     Eric Pasternack                Jo Pasternack
     Roger Shaver                   Tyler Stanchfield
     Rhea Sullivan                   Jason Vogen    
     Benjamin Wagner             Keelin Yenny-Henderson

If you would like to be notified about performance dates, times and locations for any of our productions, we invite you to add your name to our mailing list.  This way we will know how to contact you!  We never sell our mailing list to other parties.

Two excellent internet resources for information about Trial by Jury:

Wikipedia – Trial by Jury

The Gilbert & Sullivan Archive – Trial by Jury

H. M. S. Pinafore

Wednesday, August 6th, 2014

H.M.S. Pinafore Program

H.M.S. Pinafore Cast

Directors

Stage Director: Lesley Hendrickson
Music Director: Randal A. Buikema

Director’s Notes

H.M.S Pinafore was Gilbert & Sullivan’s first full-length hit, opening 1978.  It has remained, with Mikado and Pirates, among the “big three” of the G&S canon, continually in performance by groups ranging from professional companies to elementary schools.  It’s story manages to be sweetly romantic while tying logical (and mathematical) granny knots.  Half the fun is rolling along with the rapidly rising level of implausibility.  Don’t ask how old Little Buttercup is supposed to be.  Don’t even think it.

As originally staged, the work had a contemporary setting.  Over the years, the GSVLOC has mounted three productions of Pinafore, the first an homage based closely on photos and engravings of the original.  Our second was a very contemporary ‘Love Boat’ setting.  This, our third, is set on a World War II battleship.  For a gaggle of blitz-wearied “sisters and cousins and aunts,” a jaunt down to Portsmouth is a jolly distraction, and aiding young love an added treat.  So grab your gas mask and your ration book and join us on the H.M.S. Pinafore.

Lesley Hendrickson

Victoria Valencour as Josephine and
Kai Brewster as Ralph Rackstraw

Two excellent internet resources for information about H.M.S. Pinafore:

Wikipedia – H.M.S. Pinafore

The Gilbert & Sullivan Archive – H.M.S. Pinafore

The Pirates of Penzance – Summer Concert 2017

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

The Gilbert & Sullivan Very Light Opera Company and the Minneapolis Pops Orchestra will present a concert version of Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance, at the Lake Harriet Bandshell, on Saturday July 15th and Sunday, July 16th.

The performance is free and open to the public. There are benches available directly in front of the stage and lots of lawn seating available in the surrounding area. Plan to arrive early to get a good spot as our concerts are one of the most popular events of the summer at the Lake Harriet Bandshell.

Synopsis

The Pirates of Penzance, or The Slave of Duty, is one of the best-known and loved shows by the Victorian duo. Frederic, an apprentice pirate, wants to give up piracy and lead a blameless life. As he follows Frederic’s star-crossed journey, Gilbert manages to lampoon the army, the police, and “respectability.” And remember, it’s all about leap year. Sullivan’s music is magnificent and innovative, with a number of the songs that defined the two for years to come: “Poor Wand’ring One,” “I am the Very Model of a Modern Major General,” and “A Policeman’s Lot is not a Happy One.”

When: Saturday, July 15th, 7:30, and Sunday, July 16th, 5:30
Where:

The Lake Harriet Bandshell Minneapolis, MN

(Click Here for Directions)

The cast for this concert production of The Pirates of Penzance includes:

Major General Stanley   Tom Berg 
The Pirate King Waldyn Benbenek 
Samuel Eric Sargeant 
Frederic Eric Mellum 
Sergeant of Police John Orbison 
   
Mabel Victoria Valencour 
Kate Cassie Utt 
Edith Katerina Middeldorp
Ruth Lara Trujillo 
   

The Gilbert & Sullivan Very Light Opera Company has collaborated with Jere Lanz and the Minneapolis Pops Orchestra for many years in presenting a concert version of one of the Gilbert and Sullivan operettas.

Two excellent internet resources for information about The Pirates of Penzance:

Wikipedia – The Pirates of Penzance

The Gilbert & Sullivan Archive – The Pirates of Penzance

The Grand Duke

Thursday, August 8th, 2013

The Grand Duke Program

The Grand Duke Cast

Directors

Stage Director: Joe Andrews
Music Director: Lori Maxwell

Our production of The Grand Duke was dedicated to the
memory of long-time and founding company member
Peter Erickson

Director’s Notes

The Grand Duke was the fourteenth and final collaboration between the Savoy masters, W. S. Gilbert and composer Arthur Sullivan.  (Of note, the opening night for The Grand Duke in 1896 was March 7th, exactly 118 years to the day for our opening night).  While the operetta received good notices, it was the duo’s only financial failure.

The original production had (mostly) glorious music, and much of the score was used to great effect in Mike Leigh’s film Topsy Turvy, a must-see for G&S fans in particular, but a great movie by any measure.  The libretto, though, was labored and the show itself clocked in at well over three hours.  The Times said of the plot, “…the turning-point of (the) plot requires considerable intellectual application before it can be thoroughly grasped.”  While one might level this criticism to any one of Gilbert’s plots, The Grand Duke storyline was particularly oblique and serpentine.

So, the GSVLOC made extensive revisions when they first mounted the production in 1991 – where I was fortunate enough to play Ludwig.  The company tightened up the libretto even more in the 2003 production and added a trio from Utopia, Limited, (“With Wily Brain”) to remind the audience that “legally dead” Ernest and Rudolf still exist.

I mention all of this because I am not a particular fan of tinkering with libretti that have proven successful.  The original version of The Grand Duke, however, needed doctoring.

For this production, I have moved the Grand Duchy, of 1750, to the mythical region of Ruritania in 1910.  By setting the action in 1910, the rather generic theatrical troupe can be a light opera company that focuses on the works of G&S. Sound familiar?

As is a tradition with most G&S works, we have excised some of the “inside” jokes from 1896 and inserted ones appropriate for either 1910 or 2014.  We exercised restraint … we think.

I would like to thank Holly Windle and Lesley Hendrickson for being gracious and clever contributors to this third round of rewrites.  Listen closely to Act Two’s “At the Outset I May Mention,” to hear some of their finest work.  Lori Maxwell, too, has been a game partner in this adventure.  To each of my requests for extra fermatas, added vamps, additional scoring she always answers, “You bet!  We can do that!”

I would particularly like to single out special gratitude for Stephen Hage, our Producer, for so patiently and helpfully responding to hundreds (literally) of emails from me over the last six months.  He was my “sounding board” for each one of the countless changes I made.  He offered expert opinion, on-going support and a lot of room for me to play, for which I’m very grateful. I hope you all enjoy this latest GSVLOC version of the final Savoy opera, The Grand Duke.

Joe Andrews

Scott Benson as the Grand Duke Rudolph and
Michael Burton as Ludwig

Two excellent internet resources for information about The Grand Duke:

Wikipedia – The Grand Duke

The Gilbert & Sullivan Archive – The Grand Duke

The Mikado – Summer Concert 2013

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

The Gilbert & Sullivan Very Light Opera Company and the Minneapolis Pops Orchestra will present a concert version of Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado, at the Lake Harriet Bandshell, on Saturday July 13th and Sunday, July 14th.

The performances are free and open to the public. There are benches available directly in front of the stage and lots of lawn seating available in the surrounding area. Plan to arrive early to get a good spot as our concerts are one of the most popular events of the summer at the Lake Harriet Bandshell.

The Mikado of Japan has decreed that the act of flirting when not married is punishable by death.  Horrified by this prospect, the townsfolk of Titipu appoint Ko-Ko as the Lord High Executioner.  He has been imprisoned for flirting and would be obliged to execute himself before beheading anyone else!  Setting the opera in Japan allowed Gilbert to satirize British politics and institutions more freely by thinly disguising them as Japanese.

When:
  Saturday, July 13th, 7:30 PM, and Sunday, July 14th, 5:30 PM
     
Where:  

The Lake Harriet Bandshell Minneapolis, MN

(Click Here for Directions)

The cast for this concert production of The Mikado include:

     The Mikado        Christopher Michela
     Nanki Poo           Michael Burton
     Pooh Bah            Waldyn Benbenek
     Pish Tush           Thomas Berg
     Ko Ko                 Zach Garcia

     Yum Yum            Quinn Shadko
     Pitti Sing            Julia Knoll
     Peep Bo              Missy Griffin
     Katisha               Lara Trujillo

The Gilbert & Sullivan Very Light Opera Company has collaborated with Jere Lanz and the Minneapolis Pops Orchestra for many years in presenting a concert version of one of the Gilbert and Sullivan operettas.

Two excellent internet resources for information about The Mikado:

Wikipedia – The Mikado

The Gilbert & Sullivan Archive – The Mikado