The New YorK Gilbert & Sullivan Players, America's preeminent professional Gilbert & Sullivan repertory company, launches its G&S Fest 2013, presenting three iconic classic productions: THE MIKADO, H.M.S. Pinafore, and THE YEOMEN OF THE GUARD when the company stages its gala return to City Center (West 55th Street) January 4th – January 20th. Other highlights of the season include a production of the rarely seen THE SORCERER on December 1st & 2nd at the Gerald W. Lynch Theater at John Jay College (899 10th Avenue at 59th Street), plus the annual New Year's Eve champagne gala at Peter Norton Symphony Space (2535 Broadway at 95th Street). Tickets for the City Center engagement go on sale September 4th.
Under the artistic and music direction of Albert Bergeret, the company has presented over 2,600 performances throughout the United States, Canada, and England. Incorporating a 25-piece orchestra, its productions feature contemporary energy while retaining a traditional respect for each of the G&S masterpieces. New YorK Gilbert & Sullivan Players is considered by many to be the nation's "leading custodian of the G&S classics."
THE SORCERER, a story about a respectable English shopkeeper who just happens to sell authentic sorcery products, touches on Gilbert's favorite theme of class distinction and calls for the audience pleasing device of magical theatrical illusions. Sullivan's underrated score contains lilting melody, glorious harmony, and just the right touch of pastoral sentiment to convey the essence of Gilbert's light-hearted satire. In a quaint English village, a young military officer, Alexis, decides to purchase a love potion from the respectable sorcery peddler in order to distribute it to the entire populace of the town. Of course, this potion is compounded on the strictest of moral principles so as to have no effect on married persons. Once everyone has partaken of the potion all sorts of mismatches occur, including Alexis' noble father with a common pew opener, a noble lady with the sorcerer himself, and eventually Alexis' own fiancee with the lovable village vicar. Even the well meaning, but misguided, Alexis is unhappy with this situation, so the sorcerer agrees to forfeit his own life to set things back the way they were - disappearing magically as part of his sacrifice to the delight of all.
In THE MIKADO, or The Town of Titipu, the location is a fictitious Japanese town full of colorful characters - 3 little maids from school, a wandering minstrel, a hilariously corrupt public official, and a Lord High Executioner who may have a list of potential victims but is too tenderhearted to actually perform his duties. Beautiful school girl Yum-Yum loves the romantic minstrel Nanki-Poo but is engaged to Ko-Ko the executioner. This romantic triangle takes the usual course of thwarted romance, until the arrival first of the fearsome Katisha, claiming Nanki-Poo as her "perjured lover," and later of the emperor, or Mikado, himself - with his own list of punishments to fit the crime. In order to resolve the ensuing complications, Ko-Ko must use his wits to convince the most unattractive Katisha to marry him - in record time. That done, all other potentially dangerous circumstances are settled by the Mikado's all encompassing pronouncement "nothing could possibly be more satisfactory."
H.M.S. PINAFORE, or The Lass That Loved a Sailor marks the start of the Gilbert & Sullivan collaboration's hit parade and the beginning of musical theatre as we know it. On board H.M.S. Pinafore, the lowly sailor, Ralph Rackstraw, has fallen in love with Josephine, daughter of the repressed, but ever polite, Captain Corcoran whose social climbing ambitions have caused him to promise Josephine in marriage to the insufferable Sir Joseph Porter, K.C.B, First Lord of the Admiralty. While the crew and Sir Joseph's groupies, referred to as "his sisters and his cousins and his aunts" dance their way across the deck, Josephine promises not to follow her heart in returning Ralph's affection and the Captain reveals his own attraction to the lowly peddler woman, Little Buttercup, who hints that "things are seldom what they seem." Sir Joseph senses Josephine's coolness to his advances, but is convinced by the Captain to make another effort in the boisterous Bell Trio. In a deliberately absurd twist of fate, Little Buttercup reveals that Ralph and the Captain were switched at birth, thereby allowing both Corcorans to marry the objects of their affections, within their own social classes. Sir Joseph is resigned to marrying his most devoted groupie, Cousin Hebe.