The Home of HRG&SP

The Harvard-Radcliffe Gilbert & Sullivan Players are proud to be the largest independent student-run theatrical organization at Harvard College. Each year, we produce two operettas from the grand canon of Victorian duo William Schwenck Gilbert and Sir Arthur Sullivan.

Our spring production will be The Sorcerer, running March 24-April 2! A full listing of show dates and times can be found on our Happening Now page.

Please email hrgsp.president@gmail.com with any questions about ordering tickets for this season’s show.

Any new announcements will be posted right below this!

With Joyous Shout

By Richard Tong

The curtains closed on our production of The Mikado a month ago, and since then things have been much quieter at HRG&SP. This post-show lull—too early to rehearse the next show, too late enjoy the fruits of the last—is precious to us in a number of ways. As well as allowing our sleeping patterns to return to a relatively respectable pattern and providing a much needed respite to catch up on neglected school work, this period of calm gives us time to take stock and reflect on The Mikado.

There are a number of crucial people who made The Mikado possible, most obvious among which is the marvelously talented cast. Yum-Yum (Isabella Kopits ’20) and Nanki-Poo (Ben Grimm ’18) were the very paragon of innocent love, whose soaring arias and overly earnest expressions of affection moved some to tears and many more to laughter. The unlikely and at times outrageous romance between Katisha (Zachary Mallory, Boston Conservatory ’16) and Ko-Ko (Aaron Slipper ’18) brought Gilbert’s libretto to sparkling life. Mallory’s creative vision as director brought out the very best in each actor, and teased out every possibility for nuance, passion, and humor.

Of course, no Gilbert and Sullivan operetta would be possible without an orchestra to bring Sullivan’s enchanting music to life. Music Director Sydney Mukassa ’18 and Orchestra Manager (and erstwhile second trombone) Jared Perlo ’19 performed their delicate task with seemingly effortless ease. The orchestra sounded particularly fine, even when called on to interact with actors and their on-stage shenanigans.

And then, there was the glittering set designed by Elizabeth Pattyn (Massachusetts College of Art and Design ’17) and built under the supervision of Technical Director Sabrina Yates ’19. The standard for HRG&SP’s sets has always been high, but it is safe to say that the exquisite detail seen in The Mikado is almost unparalleled. Everything from the painstakingly hand-painted checkerboard floor to the custom made beer bottle labels was the product of hundreds of hours of work.

But more than anything else, we owe a debt of gratitude to you. Though we look back fondly on the show’s cast, staff and orchestra, fonder still are our memories of our ever supportive audience; after all, we put on these shows to share the joy of Gilbert and Sullivan with fans both old and new. It is your laughter, your tears and your applause that inspire us to do what we do.

This semester has been a particularly challenging one for HRG&SP. We have attempted to grapple with The Mikado’s complex history and relation to race, and we thank you for being so kind and considerate in your feedback. It was instructive and enlightening to read the comments many audience members left on the note cards, and to talk to audience members and patrons at receptions. The Mikado is many things to many people, and we are better off for having you join us in discussion.

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Finally, while it is only right that we look back on The Mikado “with joyous shout and ringing cheer,” the future is equally bright. Next semester we will be returning to the prototypical Gilbert and Sullivan operetta, the first to use the character tropes and musical elements that became the staple of later G&S shows. Join us again in spring as we take on The Sorcerer.

Post-Show Rest and Looking Forward!

By Alexander J. Raun

 
After living in the theater for tech weeks and the run of The Mikado, the Harvard-Radcliffe Gilbert & Sullivan Players have spent the past week resting and catching up on a semester’s worth of school. However, with the closing of one show comes the opening of the next, and we have started initial preparations for The Sorcerer, which will take place in the spring semester! The dates for the show include the weekends of March 24th and March 31st, 2017. We hope to see you there!
Additionally, despite our week of rest, we somehow couldn’t resist the stage, and on Saturday, November 12th, we performed a few G&S numbers in the Hasty Pudding Theatricals annual Fall Variety Show! The songs came from HMS Pinafore, Ruddigore, and The Mikado. Performers in the HPT Fall show included Aaron Slipper ’18, Arianna Paz ’19, Richard Tong ’19, Jake Corvino ’19, Sydney Mukasa ’18, and Alex Raun ’17. Thank you to all who came out to support us, and we hope to perform in the show again next year!

Mikado 2016 Historical Note & FAQ

Written by Ashley Zhou ’17 and Kat C. Zhou ’17

We distributed this document at the box office during the run of the show. Some of the responses to the FAQ have been revised slightly in order to clarify and enrich my original answers, which were written in haste before opening. 

A Brief Historical Note

The history of Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado, as with so many beloved Victorian cultural artifacts, is a history of imperialism: Western imperial powers’ thirst for dominance in an economic system they saw as a zero-sum game, the ever-growing urgency to find more trading partners, the dehumanization of non-white peoples as justification for conquest couched in paternalistic rhetoric of civilizing missions and Christianization. Of Commodore Matthew Perry docking gunboats in Tokyo Bay and calling the result of his actions, even to this day, an “opening,” as if to read choice into Japan’s forced entry into Western-controlled systems of trade and to turn away from the violence of that historical moment. Of the political upheaval of the Meiji Restoration, a direct response to this act of U.S. imperialism, and the economic consequences of the new government on Japanese people, many of whom emigrated, in the first large-scale Japanese migration to the U.S., to find opportunities on the West Coast or in Hawai’i, itself under the rule of white settler colonists.

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Mikado Opening

Written by Kat C. Zhou ’17

Beware this is a long post! See section headers to find specific content.

This has been a whirlwind process, one that has even hit national news! I wanted to use this blog post to share some of my thoughts on what the show does, and what it might continue to think about for the future. I hope also to include voices (reactions from both longtime G&S fans and students on campus) besides my own in this post.

I spent time looking through the Crimson archives to see if I could find information on previous HRG&SP production of The Mikado. I believe that there have been 12 production of The Mikado in HRG&SP history, and as far as I can see, this is the first non-yellowface production (loosely categorizing the anime Mikado of 1997 as a form of yellowface), making the fall 2016 production of The Mikado a historically unprecedented one!

It is a paradox (a paradox!) to live in the present, surrounded by reminders of history, knowing that the present is constantly slipping away into the past. What might it mean to forget and to remember? This is a central question that has haunted me throughout the entire production process of The Mikado, and it is a question to continue to grapple with even after we have opened, even years from now.

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Warming up for The Mikado

By Elena Sokoloski

The orchestra is warming up, the lights are coming on, and the actors can be heard warming up backstage.. tech week is underway! Backstage, the floor Horner Room is protected by a paint-speckled tarp as our paint team is working on the final touches on The Mikado hotel, orchestra members are marking the last of the cuts and transitions into their music, and in front of it all, our fearless stage and music directors are bringing it all together.

Programming outside the theater is also ramping up. We began last semester with a series of community conversations held both as a thermometer for student opinions towards our decision to stage the Mikado, and as an opportunity for members of the Harvard community to give their input on our staging of the show. This semester’s programming kicked off with a screening of the Mikado Project, and will be continuing in the following weeks with a series of teach-ins, talkbacks, and community discussions of the Mikado and its complicated racial history.

We’re in the final stretch of show prep, and look forward to sharing our hard work – both onstage and offstage – soon!

Mikado Load-In

By Michaela Kane
The Las Vegas Mikado hotel and casino is readying itself for its grand opening on October 28! The talented staff from all departments of HRG&SP have been tirelessly working in preparation for our Load-In Sunday. After The Scottish Play left the historic Agassiz theater, we swooped in and finished setting up larger set pieces, began painting some lovely Japanese screens, and set up all of the onstage lights. Time has been of the essence, so all of cast and staff will be working together in the coming weeks to paint the stage, build platforms, and get the stage set up and ready for business. With the dynamic trio: set designer Elizabeth Pattyn, light designer Kathleen Zhou ’16, and technical director Sabrina Yates ’19, we had an incredibly efficient and productive Load In, and we look forward to the weeks of tech ahead!
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Mikado Rehearsal Update!

By Arianna Paz

The fall weather is growing colder, which means we are getting closer and closer to the opening night of this fall’s production of The Mikado! The cast, staff, and orchestra have been busily rehearsing and preparing to bring Las Vegas to the Agassiz Stage in this creative setting for Gilbert and Sullivan’s classic operetta.

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In most recent rehearsal news, sitzprobe was this past Sunday night!  The cast and orchestra finally got to rehearse together for the first time under the guidance of this fall’s music director, Sydney Mukasa.  The two groups sounded wonderful together, and the rehearsal went incredibly smoothly.  Stage director Zachary Mallory even joined in on the fun when he grabbed a score and sang along.  It was truly a treat to see that the hard work of both the cast and orchestra has really been paying off!

As rehearsals continue, both groups will be perfecting the patter songs until the curtain rises on October 28th!

Hello, Autumn!

By Allegra C. Caldera

Yesterday I picked up my first red-gold leaf off the sidewalk. Today, I cracked open a box of sweaters and contemplated re-introducing scarves to my wardrobe. There’s a crisp chill in the air, a beautiful New England fall on the way, and, of course, another HRG&SP production in the works. Our orchestra members are sight-reading their music; our designers are getting re-certified to work in the scene shop; and our cast, directors and stage manager and are already busily rehearsing. Together, they’re getting ready to create a refreshed and reinvented Mikado, with a new Las Vegas spin.

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Fall Evening outside of Agassiz Theater 

Maybe it’s because my first G&S show was a fall production of Pirates of Penzance, but I’ve always thought the red-velvet decor of the Ag fits perfectly with autumn. The smell of new sawdust and the laughter of sing-through go just right with the fall weather. So, as the leaves change and the chill begins to settle in, wish us luck with our preparations to bring laughter and light (opera) to Harvard Yard… and make sure to catch The Mikado at the end of October!

 

 

Spring has sprung!

by Alex J. Raun ’17

With the closing of Pinafore almost a month in the past, we have all been having intense G&S withdrawals over these past few weeks. However, last week, we were able to have a much needed reunion at our annual Spring Tea! The event was filled with great conversation, creative hats, and of course, amazing food (I think I’m still full). Anne A. Power ’16 lead the charge as the master chef, and some classic dishes included Coronation Chicken sandwiches, homemade scones, and coconut macaroons. Additionally, we concluded the event with our traditional hat competition. This year, the winner was Barra A. Peak ’18! Her outstanding hat can be seen in the picture below.

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Spring Tea 2016

Overall, Spring Tea this semester was a huge success and the perfect way to see everyone before the long summer months ahead.

Onwards!

By Emma R. Adler ’16

With this spring’s production of H.M.S. Pinafore sailing off into the great blue eternity of HRG&SP posterity, it’s time to set our sights on what’s to come. HRG&SP is thrilled to announce our season for the coming year: The Mikado; or, the Town of Titipu in the fall, and The Sorcerer in the spring.

The Mikado will be helmed by the topnotch producing team of Peryn E.A. Reeves-Darby ’18, Michaela J. Kane ’18, and Alexander A. Raun ’17. With this production of The Mikado, HRG&SP hopes to subject problematic aspects of the show to scrutiny, and to contribute to other campus organizations’ efforts to facilitate greater mindfulness and commitment to social justice among Harvard students.

The Sorcerer, written just before Pinafore, has historically enjoyed much less acclaim than The Mikado (not to mention many fewer productions). However, HRG&SP believes that there is plenty to be said for this ugly duckling of the G&S canon, and that its mockery of Victorian obsessions with rank and social niceties will cause it to dovetail nicely with The Mikado, which places similar mores under a satirical microscope.

The Mikado will run in the Agassiz Theater from October 28 through November 4. In the meantime, be sure to check out the production photos from Pinafore, taken by HRG&SP mainstay Joey Goodknight.