Solidarity and Action

Dear HRG&SP patrons and community, 

Earlier this semester, we were forced to cancel our production of Kiss Me, Kate by the COVID-19 pandemic. This sent us reeling, but with more than 100,000 Americans dead from the virus, it makes the cancellation of our one little show seem paltry. 

I bring this up because, at present, even the tragedy of the global pandemic seems to have taken a back seat to the uprisings against racism and police brutality occurring across the nation. Even as I sit here in Higginsville, Missouri, insulated from the uprisings in cities around the country, it has become clear that the status quo is no longer tenable for anyone, anywhere, especially Black Americans. 

The killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and countless others in the recent past have shown us all the dark foundation of anti-Blackness that pervades policing as an institution and our country as a whole.

We, as the Harvard-Radcliffe Gilbert and Sullivan Players, stand in solidarity with the Black members of our community, protesters the nation over, and everyone fighting injustice, racism, and police brutality. 

We are blessed as a group to have many generous donors who habitually support us in our mission of performing extra-curricular theatre at Harvard and promoting appreciation and awareness of the works of Gilbert and Sullivan. We especially thank those donors who were able to give to us in our time of need, our semester without a show. 

Now, we call upon our donors to do what they can to support demonstrators and protesters fighting against racist structures and, increasingly, the slide toward authoritarianism in our government. Please, if you can, donate to any of the charities listed below, recommended to us and to you by BlackCAST, Harvard’s Black student theater group. 

Furthermore, we recognize that some works of Gilbert and Sullivan, while musically beautiful, textually witty, and historically important, existed in and contributed to a racist culture. We, as an organization, wanted to give some of the money that we have made from these shows to organizations fighting that racist culture. While we would love to financially support organizations like Reclaim the Block and Black Visions Collective directly, as a 501(c)(3) we are limited to donating to causes that further our mission of theatre education and awareness. We have therefore decided to donate $1,000 to the Penumbra Theatre in St. Paul, MN, a group which “creates professional productions that are artistically excellent, thought provoking, and relevant and illuminates the human condition through the prism of the African American experience.” (https://penumbratheatre.org/). 

We believe in the power of theatre to change hearts and minds. We believe that art can bring change and be a tool for education. I am glad that we are able to provide support to a fellow theater organization that has also lost performances and revenue from the pandemic and which, through its art, fights the very injustices we see protesters fighting every day.

Once again, please donate to these organizations as you are able! The HRG&SP is unable to donate directly to these worthy causes, so we strongly urge you, our patrons and community, to support them to the greatest extent possible. I personally have done so as have many other members of the community. The time has come for us as human beings to put our money where our mouths are and make the world a better place.

Black Visions Collective — https://www.blackvisionsmn.org/
Reclaim the Block — https://www.reclaimtheblock.org/home
National Bail Fund Network — bit.ly/localbailfunds
Anti-Police Terror Project — antipoliceterrorproject.org
Brooklyn Community Bail Fund — brooklynbailfund.org
Transgender Law Center in Memory of Tony McDade — transgenderlawcenter.org

With love and solidarity on behalf of the whole HRG&SP Board of Directors, 
Ross Simmons
HRG&SP President

Kiss Me, Kate Refund Information

Dear HRG&SP patrons,
 
Thank you to everyone who has emailed me about refunds for Kiss Me, Kate. After speaking with our contact at the Harvard Box Office, I have more information about those refunds. Because of the quickly developing situation, the Harvard Box office has already refunded your ticket purchases and donations. Here’s how:

  • If you ordered your tickets online through the Harvard Box Office, your refund occurred automatically. 
  • If you mailed in your donation via the order form we sent you, your check is being returned directly to you by the Harvard Box Office. 
  • If you purchased your tickets in person at the Smith Campus Center or via phone, you will need to be in touch with the Harvard Box Office for a refund.

This means that all refunds are being handled by the Harvard Box Office itself, and we, the HRG&SP, have not received any of your money from them. 

Thank you to everyone who asked for us to keep their donation. Unfortunately, because these refunds were automatic, we were not able to do that. If you would still like to make a donation this semester, please do so through our website. Click the “donate” button on our Patrons page. Here is a link

Once again, we are extremely grateful for you, our patron base, as it is your support that keeps us going from semester to semester. If you would be able to donate to help us make it through this difficult semester without a show and without ticket income, we would greatly appreciate it. 

Dutifully yours,
Ross Simmons
HRG&SP President

A Statement from the President on the Cancellation of Kiss Me, Kate

Hello HRG&SP Patrons,

Firstly, I would like to thank you for your dedicated support to our organization. We love, trust, and rely upon our patrons to keep the organization vibrant, strong, and active. Thank you all for responding positively to our decision to do Kiss Me, Kate and for supporting our organization as we expand the canon. 

That being said, circumstances outside of our control are forcing us to cancel this semester’s production of Kiss Me, Kate.

As you may have heard, Harvard has taken definitive action to curb the spread of COVID19. In response to the ongoing global outbreak of the virus, Harvard has cancelled in person classes and is asking everyone to leave campus. They are limiting all gatherings to no more than 25 people and are clearing out the residential Houses. The cast, staff, and orchestra already exceed 25, so there is no way to have the show.

Other theatrical productions, including the Hasty Pudding, the Lowell House Opera, and various other projects have also been cancelled in recent days over concerns about spreading COVID19.

The HRG&SP regrets having to share this sad news, but we have no choice but to cancel the production. We would have preferred a fully budgeted, fully attended, fully fantastic production. We would have loved to see all of you this semester. Unfortunately, that is no longer possible. 

We want to let you all know that we are extremely grateful for you and your patronage. If you have already donated or purchased tickets, please email me at hrgsp.president@gmail.com and I can help get you a refund. 

If you would like to lend extra financial help to the HRG&SP in this trying time, please feel free to donate on the “patrons” page of our website. Here is a link

The HRG&SP will be back at it in Fall 2020 with a glorious production of Ruddigore; or the Witch’s Curse! I hope to see you all there, happy, healthy and excited.

On behalf of the Board of Directors, thank you all so very much. We depend upon your support and patronage to keep the organization thriving. 

With a heavy but grateful heart, 
Ross Simmons
HRG&SP President

Welcome back!

The semester is back in full force this week. Classes have been picked, sections have been distributed, books have been bought, and auditions have been held! It’s been a busy past couple of weeks for us here at Harvard, but we have some important announcements to make. 

I am happy to announce officially that our spring show will be Kiss Me, Kate, the Cole Porter classic. Kiss Me, Kate is a witty and beautiful musical that is clearly in the tradition of Gilbert and Sullivan. I know that even the G&S diehards among you will enjoy seeing it. 

While it is unusual for us to perform a non-G&S show, this isn’t the first time our organization has done so. This is, in fact, the fourth time. In our 64 year history we have performed Die Fledermaus, The Threepenny Opera, and Of Thee I Sing. Below you will find pictures of various paraphernalia related to these shows from the Harvard Theater Archives.  The most recent of these was Of Thee I Sing which was performed in April of 1999, more than two decades ago. 

Kiss Me, Kate will run in the Agassiz from March 27 through April 5. Tickets will go on sale at the Harvard box office on March 1st. If you want to buy tickets before the general public, you can do so by becoming a patron! We will be mailing a special order form to our patrons this Monday, so be sure to join our mailing list soon to get the patron letter and order form! You can find it under the “Patron” tab of this website. 

Finally, as a reassurance to our dedicated G&S fans and HRG&SP patrons, I am glad to say that we are returning to the canon in Fall 2020 with the classic Ruddigore; or, The Witch’s Curse!

Thank you to everyone who helps keep our organization up and running. We couldn’t do it without you. 

Dutifully yours, 
Ross Simmons ‘21
HRG&SP President

The program from our 1999 production of Of Thee I Sing.
A review of our 1965 production of Three Penny Opera.

Sitzprobe is in the air!

Hello friends!

It’s getting colder and windier here in Cambridge, so I hope everyone is enjoying the transition into fall. Harvard is never quite so beautiful as it is in the fall. This semester, I am extremely excited to be orchestra producing HMS Pinafore. I am usually in the cast of HRG&SP shows, but I am glad to have this opportunity to learn about another part of the process. 

The first orchestra rehearsal was a bit sparse, but even though we were missing a few instruments, the first few notes of the overture blew me away. I recognized the jaunty tune and knew that we were going to have a good show. As the orchestra has grown week to week, I can do nothing but smile. 

Last weekend, we had our Sitzprobe where the cast and orchestra performed together for the first time. It was elysian. Mary Reynolds (Tufts ‘21) has done such a good job as music director! The rehearsal went smoothly and we got through the whole show with minimal hiccups. Janiah Lockett ‘20 (the stage director), Sam Guillemette ‘20 (Cast Producer), and I were bobbing our heads, tapping our feet, and humming along to the famous and unforgettable tunes of this classic operetta. 

I hope that you all can come to see our show!

HMS Pinafore runs in the historic Agassiz theater from November 8th through November 17th. Tickets are available at the Harvard Box Office website. 
https://www.boxoffice.harvard.edu

Thanks again for your support of HRG&SP and our shows!

Ross Simmons ‘21
HRG&SP Historian
HMS Pinafore Orchestra Producer

SitzPic

Spring Updates!

Hello Friends!

Non-G&S show

The HRG&SP would like to hear your thoughts about an idea we’ve had. We are considering producing a non-G&S show in Spring 2020. The kind of show we have in mind is a musical from the “Golden Age of Broadway” era, shows like My Fair Lady, The Music Man, The Man of La Mancha, Kiss me Kate, etc.

We think that producing a non-G&S show could bring in a wider swath of the Harvard Community, increase student interest in our organization, and build a larger community that can then make better G&S shows in following semesters.

It’s a risk we’re willing to take if our patron base is on board. We will not make this leap if our patron base doesn’t think it is a good idea.

To give us your input, please fill out this form.

New Board member and Visitas Fair

In other news, we would like to introduce you all to the newest member of the HRG&SP Board, Edward J. Athaide ’22. We inducted him a couple of weeks ago, and he has been doing a great job ever since. He plays the violin and he orchestra managed The Gondoliers! Give him a big Schwenck welcome!

One of Edward’s first duties was to greet admitted students at the Visitas activities fair and convince them that the HRG&SP is the organization for them. Below is a photo of this auspicious occasion.

DSC_0844.jpeg

Sitzprobe and Load-in!

Hello HRG&SP Community!

The past couple of days have been busy for us here. We’ve been working on bringing The Gondoliers; or The King of Barataria to life! Sunday evening we had our sitzprobe led by our immeasurably wonderful music director Mary Reynolds. The cast, orchestra, and board joined her in the Lowell Lecture hall to run through all of the music in the show. I daresay it’s coming along swimmingly. It was one of the best sitzprobes we’ve had in recent memory. We enjoyed singing some of the most fun music Gilbert and Sullivan ever wrote (“Dance a Cachucha” anyone?). We are eager for you to hear it!

After Sunday night’s run through the aural experience of the show, Monday and Tuesday night were spent constructing the visual experience. We have officially started our residency in the Agassiz Theater! We got everything moved into the Horner Room (future site of the Victorian Ball; stay tuned for more information on that) and started getting platforms and flats painted. While construction was ongoing upstairs, cast members had initial costume fittings downstairs in the costume shop. Let me just say that the costumes will blow you all away. They are simply fantastic. Jamie Paterno Ostmann, our costume designer, has simply outdone herself. You’ll have to come see the show to get a glimpse of these killer ensembles.

We’re so excited to have you join us to see The Gondoliers; or The King of Barataria! We’re less than a month away from opening night, and we’re excited to share our hard work and our artistic vision with all of you.

Dutifully yours,
Ross Simmons
HRG&SP Historian