Spend any period of time among Harvard undergraduates, and you start to notice quarter-zips,
sweatshirts, and the occasional jacket. These are no run-of-the-mill quarter-zips, sweatshirts, and
jackets to catch your attention like this. Alongside the labels of expensive brands, they bear the
most potent status marker of all: a club emblem. Model UN, the Krokodiloes, Harvard-Radcliffe
Crew, perhaps for the hyper-elite Harvard College Consulting Group—my first year found me a
sideline spectator viewing this ostentatious display of organizational belonging with bemused
interest, and, I must confess, at times a touch of envy.
Imagine my delight (accompanied by a Gilbertian laugh at my feeling of self-importance),
then, when our resident jack and master of all trades Sam Guillemette (in his role as the
merchandise committee) placed an HRG&SP board jacket in my hands. Harvard College Model
UN, I have absolutely nothing against you personally, but you could take your fashion cues from
us. On the front chest, HRG&SP’s wonderfully whimsical emblem stands out against a
background of crisp red that would suite a heavy dragoon from Patience capitally. On the back
of the collar are my three initials. Ever since we first put this uniform on, the new board
members, Ava, Mary, Clarissa and I, have been loath to let it out of our sights. I approach public
spaces with a new sense of confidence and self-esteem. I graciously answer the eager questions
of strangers smitten by the captivating arrangement of the Lord Chancellor, Sir Joseph Porter,
Yum Yum (?), and two treble clefs on scarlet. I stay surprisingly warm, especially given the
mildness of the recent Boston weather. And most of all, I feel that it is indeed a glorious thing to
be a G&S board member.
It is! Hurrah for HRG&SP. Starting off officially with my board duties at the end of January,
I didn’t quite know what to expect. As an ensemble member in Pinafore in the fall, I had seen a
remarkable show miraculously take shape over the course of eight weeks. I had gotten to know
the directors, producers, and fellow staff well. However, I had also noticed that at crucial points
(especially as we were building the set and throughout the performances) mysterious Other
People appeared at the Ag, laden with cookies and milk for matinees, posters to be signed, and
delectable assortments of cheeses. At the back of my mind I was also dimly aware that someone
was taking care of the countless irritating details that had to be attended to for everything to run
as planned.
This semester, I have not been allowed to pique the cast’s curiosity with a surprise visit to the
Ag to pinch hit during build and run. As the staff producer for our Spring production of Kiss
Me, Kate I have been in the trenches from the beginning—and enjoying myself immensely. I
have been given a privileged glimpse of how truly remarkable HRG&SP is: amidst the travails of
full-time student life we stage a full operetta every semester at a high level; we provide our
classmates with an opportunity to display their unique and extraordinary talents, whether as
actors, musicians, or technicians (I trust audiences were as impressed as the cast was by the
stunning set and lights for Pinafore); and most of all we keep alive the unique G&S tradition of
fostering a warm community that delights in elegant wit, superb music, good conversation and
good company.
There have been moments throughout the four weeks of the semester that have elapsed so far
when I have wished I could be attending to something other than my board and producer duties.
(There are at least two papers I could be writing now instead of this blog post, for example.) Yet
these spells of exhaustion are brief. Every time the brass crashes and the trumpet brays, and

every time I see a new example of the warmth of our community or the professionalism of our
members, my bosom swells with pride, and I snap my fingers at a foeman’s taunts. So, give
three cheers and one cheer more for HRG&SP…and do come see Kiss Me, Kate this spring, and
then Ruddigore in the fall!

The author’s Board jacket.

One thought on “Of Scarlet Coats and Other things

  1. From the department of cluelessness,
    Thanks for the fun rumination on joining the HG&SP – sorry, HRG&SP – board, which rings a old but cherished bell. I had to look up “quarter-zip” but now I know, more or less. I am mostly taken by the idea that various clubs now use branded leisurewear to establish “status” on campus. Unless, as you hint, the entire thing is a bit of spoof in the spirit of the spoofmeister himself, old WSG.
    Good luck with ‘Kiss Me, Kate’.
    John Magoun, board member 1975-78


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