“Each lord of Ruddigore,
despite his best endeavour,
shall do one crime, or more,
once, every day, forever!
This doom he can’t defy,
however he may try,
for should he stay
his hand, that day
In torture he shall die!”
Ruddigore, or The Witch’s Curse
March 13 and 14, 2020
The Murgatroyd Ancestral Portrait Gallery
Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, there were only two performances of this production, with the rest of the run cancelled. The Gilbert & Sullivan Very Light Opera Company successfully remounted a full run of this production, from March 11 to April 3, 2022.
|Stage Director:||Joe Andrews|
|Music Director:||Dr. Randal A. Buikema|
In the G&S canon, Ruddigore came after the phenomenal success of The Mikado—a tough act to follow if there ever was one. Gilbert settled on the idea of parodying Victorian melodrama, an art form that started in the early 1800s and continued well into the century. The stock characters and situations for melodrama—the stalwart hero, the innocent damsel in distress, the wicked, mustachioed villain (“you MUST pay the rent!”), paranormal activity, the exotic locales are somewhat familiar to a modern audience through parodies from the 20th century that many of us grew up with, like Dudley Do-Right and sketches from The Carol Burnett Show.
A direct descendent of melodrama is Film Noir. As I began to dig into this genre as a possible backdrop for our show, I realized that G&S is simply too buoyant to be contained in this one rather grim framework. So, we’ve drawn from film classics of the period—from hard-boiled detective dramas, to screwball comedies, to ebullient MGM musicals to bring our Ruddigore to life. So, yes … we’ve taken some liberties. I know that will be a concern to some. I promise that we’ve tried to remain true to the spirit of Gilbert’s original parody . . . we’ve just brought the object of the parody a little closer to home. So, sit back and set your way back machine to 1948. The war is over. The golden years of Hollywood cinema are in their prime . . . and you’re in a fishing village in southern England. Okay, . . . GO!
P.S. A reminder that mounting a full-scale production of Gilbert & Sullivan with a full, live orchestra is as rare as it is expensive. But it is so necessary in times of tumult and divisiveness to have a few precious moments where we can simply sit back and enjoy. Won’t you please consider a donation to our company to ensure that we can continue to bring you this “inestimable treasure for all the world holds dear.” Visit the Gilbert & Sullivan Very Light Opera Company | Mightycause.
Seth Tychon Steidl as Sir Ruthven Murgatroyd (Robin Oakapple),
Sarah Wind Richens as Rose Maybud and
Anthony Rohr as Richard Dauntless
Play Off the Page, by Mary Aalgaard
Two excellent internet resources for information about Ruddigore:
Poster design by Tom McGregor and Mary Olson
Photography by Bethany Jackson, Twin Cities Headshots
“When a man has been a naughty baronet,
and expresses deep repentance and regret,
you should help him, if you’re able,
like the mousie in the fable,
that’s the teaching of my Book of Etiquette.”