for your entry sets our
tender hearts a-beating.
Men of station,
admiration prompts this
Hearty greeting offer we!”
Ruddigore, or The Witch’s Curse
March 11 to April 3, 2022
Our production of Ruddigore was dedicated to the memory of long-time company members, Artistic Director Wendy Evans, tenor Vern Harmon, Music Director James Straka, and company co-founder and Music Director Jim Hart.
|Dr. Randal A. Buikema
Welcome back to the theater and thank you for coming to see this production of Ruddigore that was sadly sidelined in 2020 due to the pandemic. Ruddigore premiered in 1887 following the phenomenal success of The Mikado. The object of Gilbert’s wit this time around was Victorian melodrama, an art form that started in the early 1800s and continued through the century. The stock characters and situations for melodrama – the stalwart hero, the innocent damsel in distress, the wicked villain (“you MUST pay the rent!”) and his accomplice, a faithful servant, paranormal activity, exotic locales – may be somewhat familiar to a modern audience, but usually through melodrama’s direct descendants. Movies like Mildred Pierce, the films of Douglas Sirk (Imitation of Life, Magnificent Obsession) are 20th-century versions of melodrama. Television’s soap operas, too, share the same DNA as their 19th century counterparts, while Dudley Do-Right, Carol Burnett as Norma Desmond, and SNL’s “The Californians” all offer parodies of the genre.
Film Noir, too, has elements of melodrama and was where I first turned as I considered re-setting Ruddigore. But Gilbert’s libretto and Sullivan’s music proved to be too buoyant to be contained in this one rather grim framework. So, I’ve drawn from classic films of the 30s, 40s and 50s to bring our Ruddigore to life; hard-boiled detective dramas, screwball comedies, and ebullient MGM musicals all get a nod. So, yes … I’ve taken some liberties. I promise that I’ve tried to remain true to the spirit of Gilbert’s original parody … we’ve just brought the object of 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’ve just paid 58 cents for a ticket to the local cinema. 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. Become a supporter of our company to ensure that we can continue to bring you these “inestimable treasures for all the world holds dear.” See an usher to provide a donation or visit The Gilbert & Sullivan Very Light Opera Company | Mightycause.
Lara Trujillo as Mad Margaret
Two excellent internet resources for information about Ruddigore: