Archive for the ‘Shows’ Category

Very Light Cabaret

Monday, October 15th, 2018

The Gilbert & Sullivan Very Light Opera Company, The Twin Cities’ premiere (and only) theatre company dedicated to the works of Gilbert & Sullivan, proudly presents to you a Very Light Cabaret! Come see some of our company’s finest perform reimagined takes of the Victorian duo’s comic works.

There will be songs of PINAFORE, there will be PIRATES OF PENZANCE, there will be a number of numbers from operettas you’ve never heard of before (which are surely just as good)! Celebrate our company turning 40 (in 2019) with some drinks, sharp humor, and much singing.

Friday, Oct 19, 7-8:30 PM at Can Can Wonderland (755 Prior Ave N, St. Paul, MN)
More Info

Saturday, Oct 20, 7:30-9 PM at Honey (205 E. Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis)
More Info

Sunday, Oct 21, 7:30-9 PM at Honey
More Info

Tickets are pay what you can at the door!

The Mikado

Saturday, April 28th, 2018

The Gilbert & Sullivan Very Light Opera Company is pleased to announce that it will present The Mikado, from March 15 to April 7, 2019.

This production will be directed by Rick Shiomi and will present his adaptation of the original version of The Mikado.

In this re-imagined version of The Mikado, flirting is still declared a crime and punishable by death.  Yet, there is a lot of flirting going on in the town of Ti-Tea-Pu, in the land of England.  In anticipation of the arrival of the monarch, The Mikado, a tailor has been appointed Lord High Executioner and must behead someone before his majesty arrives.  The tailor himself is involved in a love triangle and attempts to set up his rival, Franky-Poo, before he loses his own head.  It’s all the fun and games of Gilbert and Sullivan, with a modern twist.

In describing his vision for his retelling of this classic operetta, Rick Shiomi says, “Our re-imagined production of The Mikado will deconstruct the unfortunate stereotypes while still retaining the humor and classic music; getting at the heart of the universal human experience through the lens of our diverse contemporary American culture.”

Rick Shiomi’s editorial in which he discusses his previous mounting of this production can be found here.

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 pm.  The Saturday and Sunday matinees are at 2:00 pm.  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.

Two excellent internet resources for information about The Mikado

Wikipedia – The Mikado

The Gilbert & Sullivan Archive – The Mikado

Princess Ida

Friday, December 15th, 2017

Princess Ida Program

Princess Ida Cast

Directors

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

Director’s Notes

Could Gilbert or Sullivan ever have imagined that their works would be alive and well some 130 years later and providing so much joy to us all in Minnesota in the dead of winter?

Princess Ida; or, Castle Adamant opened on January 5, 1884 and was the eighth operatic collaboration for Gilbert and Sullivan.  It nestled between Iolanthe and The Mikado – two of their biggest successes.  By comparison, Princess Ida was not an enormous hit.  But its longevity is a testament to its many charms.  In 1985, I played my first lead in a G&S show – Hilarion in Carleton College’s production.  About eight years later, I sang the role again with this very company in the 1993 production.  So, this show holds a special place in my heart.  Its enduring power might seem odd given that it deals with difficult topics: the satirization of Victorian feminism, college education for women (a novelty at the time), and Darwin’s theory of evolution (only a few decades old when the show opened).  Any one of these topics could pose challenges for a modern audience.  Thankfully, Gilbert treated the topics with a light touch; in fact, the show pokes more fun at male foolishness and chauvinism than anything else.

Princess Ida is based on a narrative poem by Tennyson called The Princess (1847).  Gilbert had written a farcical musical play, based on the poem, in 1870 and lifted much of the dialogue from it for his operetta.  It is the only Gilbert and Sullivan opera in three acts and the only one with dialogue in blank verse (unrhymed iambic pentameter).  It has been noted – and I agree – that the dialogue sometimes fails to sparkle in the usual Gilbertian way as a result of the forced meter.  Happily, the score and lyrics more than make up for any shortcomings in the somewhat stilted dialogue.

It should be noted that we have adapted the play very slightly to address a notable challenge in the original: the play’s conclusion includes a significant reversal.  The ending is forced and somewhat jarring – especially to the modern ear.  We’ve added just a few lines in Act 2 and 3 to help Ida’s change of heart seem more plausible.  Many of these new lines are actually from the original Tennyson poem which handles the conclusion in a far less perfunctory way.

I hope you enjoy this production even half as much as we have enjoyed putting it together for you.  I feel extremely fortunate to have been able to work with such a profoundly talented, collaborative, dedicated and buoyant cast, crew, orchestra, music director and board.

I hope you’ll agree that it’s especially important right now, right here, to support art that brings beauty and joy – the wellsprings of hope – into the world.  If you agree, perhaps you’ll consider a contribution to this unique Twin Cities company that dedicates itself solely to this special brand of operetta that we all hold so dear.

Joe Andrews

 

Sarah Wind Richens as Princess Ida, with
Anna Maher, Kaitlin Klemencic, Sarah Mehle,
Taylor Ann Grand.and Cassandra Utt

Joe Allen as Guron,
Doug Freeman as Arac and
Alessio Tranchell Scynthius

Princess Ida Reviews

         Compendium, by Becki Iverson

         PhenoMNal Twin Cities, by Stephanie Kwong

         Play Off the Page, by Mary Aalgaard

         Say Entirely, by Tierney Chlan

         Lavender Magazine, by John Townsend

         Cherry and Spoon, by Jill Schafer

         Twin Cities Arts Reader, by Basil Considine

An excellent internet resource for information about steampunk, the concept that inspired this production of Princess Ida

Wikipedia – Steampunk

Two excellent internet resources for information about Princess Ida:

Wikipedia – Princess Ida

The Gilbert & Sullivan Archive – Princess Ida

Orpheus in the Underworld

Wednesday, August 16th, 2017

Orpheus in the Underworld Program

The Cast of Orpheus in the Underworld

Directors

Stage Director: Lesley Hendrickson
Music Director: Marina Liadova

Historical Note

Orpheus in the Underworld was first performed in Paris in 1858, and reached London in 1865.  Its success was one of the inspirations for the creation of a home-grown school of 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.

Synopsis

Sing out and praise suburban life, where dad presides over the barbeque and kids and wives run wild.  Not even dreaded Public Opinion can keep this gang in line.  In Act I, Eurydice is wooed away from her philandering husband, Orpheus, by an attractive stranger who turns out to be Pluto, Lord of the Underworld.  Orpheus is delighted when the two run off together, but Public Opinion can’t allow it.  She insists that Orpheus put up a front of moral outrage and demand his wife’s return.  She will personally escort him up Mount Olympus to ask Jupiter to intervene.

Act II finds the Olympian gods and goddesses snoozing as Dr. Morpheus spreads this poppy dust – and the last few deities sneak back in after a night on the town.  Dawn reveals that all is not serene up here either.  When news of Eurydice’s abduction reaches Olympus, Juno assumes that Jupiter has been chasing mortal girls again.  Mercury has evidence to point the finger at Pluto, who is summoned to defend himself.  When Orpheus and Public Opinion finally arrive and confirm that Pluto is to blame, Jupiter promises to descend to Hades to find the girl.  He makes himself popular by agreeing to take the whole pantheon of gods and goddesses with him for a little holiday.

Pluto manages to keep Eurydice hidden away down below, so Act III finds her bored and Jupiter increasingly frustrated.  Convening the Infernal Court (with three blind justices and evidence from the three-headed dog Cerberus) fails to bring satisfaction.  Cupid is ready to help, summoning the Love Police to find Eurydice.  Jupiter assumes an unusual disguise to slip through the keyhole and woo Eurydice for himself.

In Act IV, Pluto’s wild party is just starting to get interesting when Public Opinion barges in, spoils the fun and puts everyone back on track to reunite Orpheus and Eurydice.  Jupiter can’t let that happen.  But who gets the girl?  Well, Eurydice has her own ideas.

 

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

The Orpheus and Eurydice Legend

Orpheus was so gifted a musician that wild beasts gathered around him entranced when he played his lyre.  Shortly after marrying him, Eurydice was walking in a meadow when she was bitten by a viper and died.  Grief-stricken, Orpheus resolved to rescue Eurydice from Hades.  His music charmed the three-headed dog Cerberus, and when he sang of his woes, even the god Pluto listened.  Eurydice was restored to him on the condition that he not look back at her as they climbed up out of the darkness to earth.  Just as they neared the upper world, Orpheus turned back in a moment of forgetfulness.  As she disappeared behind him, all he heard was her faint “Farewell.”  He returned to the earth in utter desolation, where he played his lyre constantly until he was killed by a band of frenzied Bacchantes.  Where his remains are buried, the nightingale sings more sweetly than anywhere else.  Reunited with his beloved Eurydice in the Elysian Fields, Orpheus may gaze at her to his heart’s content.

Orpheus in the Underworld Review

         Twin Cities Arts Reader, by Basil Considine

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

The Gondoliers was the winner of the 2017 BroadwayWorld Minneapolis Awards for Best Lighting Design!

Our production of The Gondoliers was dedicated to the memory of long-time company member Amy Tobin.

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

The Gondoliers Reviews

         Cherry and Spoon, by Jill Schafer

         Twin Cities Arts Reader, by Basil Considine

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

Iolanthe was the 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

Iolanthe Reviews

           Cherry and Spoon, by Jill Schafer

           Twin Cities Arts Reader, by Basil Considine

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

Trial by Jury Reviews

            Cherry and Spoon, by Jill Schafer

            One Girl Two Cities, by Laura vanZandt

            Twin Cities Daily Planet, by Basil Considine

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

H.M.S. Pinafore Reviews

          Cherry and Spoon, by Jill Schafer

          One Girl Two Cities, by Laura vanZandt

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

Wikipedia – H.M.S. Pinafore

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