“It really is surprising what a thorough Anglicizing we have brought about – Utopia’s quite another land; in her enterprising movements, she is England, with improvements, which we dutifully offer to our mother-land!”
Utopia, Limited or The Flowers of Progress
February 22 to March 16, 2008
Our production of Utopia, Limited was dedicated to the memory of long-time company members Debbie Feinwachs and Marcia Hill.
|Stage Director:||Lesley Hendrickson|
|Music Director:||Marina Liadova|
Spoiler Alert: Utopia, Limited is the least performed G&S operetta and comes with a number of problems a producing organization must be prepared to solve. The show’s beginnings were not auspicious: indeed, after The Gondoliers, Gilbert and Sullivan were ready to call it quits on their collaboration. They had never been friends, but after a messy lawsuit (in which Sullivan took D’Oyly Carte’s side against Gilbert) even a working relationship seemed impossible. It was four years before they came back together for Utopia. Sullivan used the hiatus to write the grand opera he had long promised. But when Ivanhoe proved an expensive flop, Sullivan needed more lucrative work. Sullivan’s disappointment combined with Gilbert’s infamous ability to hold a grudge made collaboration tense. Neither was willing to offer or accept editorial advice.
In Utopia, Gilbert presents us with unusually long dialogue scenes. Sullivan retaliates with long orchestral interludes, scenes, dances, and extended choral sections. None of this serves the plot very well. And, by the way, what is the plot? Gilbert threw in all his favorite legal, political and social targets, but took such a long time deciding on a storyline that Sullivan finally put his foot down and declined to set any more music.
The good news is that there is considerably more wheat than chaff in Utopia. Two years’ work (by a number of company members) has led to our revised version. We have propped up the storyline, trimmed the verbiage, excised chunks of music (including a lovely little waltz in the first act finale … another time, maybe) and promise to have you home well before midnight. As always, the energy, intelligence, talents and collegiality of the GSVLOC make our collaborations a joy that I hope will show in every moment of this production.
Two excellent internet resources for information about Utopia, Limited:
Photography by Daniels Studio>
“Government by Party! Introduce that great and glorious element; and all will be well! No political measures will endure, because one Party will assuredly undo all that the other Party has done. Then there will be sickness in plenty, endless lawsuits, crowded jails, interminable confusion in the Army and Navy, and, in short, general and unexampled prosperity!”
“O Make Way for the Wise Men,” with Chris Lowry as Scaphio, Christopher Michela as Phantis and Chorus
“Eagle High,” the Act II Opening, with Waldyn Benbenek as King Paramount, and Company
“A Tenor, All Singer Above,” with Timothy James as Captain Fitzbattleaxe and Betsie Feldkamp as Princess Zara
“Society Has Quite Forsaken All Her Wicked Courses,” the Minstrel Song, with Waldyn Benbenek as King Paramount, Timothy James as Captain Fitzbattleaxe, Jim Ahrens as Sir Bailey Barre, Isaiah Waid at Mr. Goldbury, Victoria Valencour as Mrs. Blushington, Stephen Hage as Captain Sir Edward Corcoran, and Jim Brooks, Dave Ekenrode and Richard Rames as the First Life Guardsmen