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Our very first show poster!

This week, HRG&SP had a very exciting occurrence- we were sent a poster from HGSP’s (our name before the Radcliffe part was added in) inaugural production, Ruddigore from the spring semester of 1956! Julia McVaugh, a member of cast, had found the poster and offered to send it to us, and we were delighted to welcome the beautiful poster, which was designed by the leading tenor of the cast, back home. Thank you so much to the McVaughs for helping us preserve our history and records!

We have scanned the poster and added it to our digital archive, and Ross, our historian, is putting it in our physical archive.

Other than that, our cast, crew, and orchestra are off and running on rehearsals for Gondoliers, which is shaping up to be a great show! It has been exciting to get a sneak peek at the initial concepts from the other designers and hear the first run-throughs of songs by cast and orchestra, and I have been enjoying getting to know the talented people who are working with HRG&SP this semester.

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Spring 1956, Ruddigore

Winter Welcome!

Welcome back!

It’s a new semester, and we’re off to a running start! Or should I say paddling? Rowing? If you couldn’t guess, this semester, we’re putting on a production of The Gondoliers; or, the King of Barataria. In typical G&S fashion, Gondoliers is a tale of princes switched at birth by a (contralto) nursemaid. Abnormally for G&S, this show features a song in Italian, so wish us buona sorte with the diction!

Music rehearsals are well underway. This past Saturday, we had our sing-through, which is the first time the entire cast and senior staff come together. It’s always exciting to see the beginnings of a new production – especially so for me personally, as I am returning to the stage as Gianetta in Gondoliers! Thank you, thank you, hold your applause until our opening on March 29 (mark your calendars!).

Winter Update #1: The Board of HRG&SP is thrilled to introduce our newest members, Sam Guillemette ‘20 and Ross Simmons ‘21!

Winter Update #2: The weather in Cambridge is dreadful these days. A gondola might be useful to navigate the puddles at this point (although it would be a little tricky to store in a backpack).

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Patience Load-In

Written by Isabella Kopits

Last Sunday, friends and family, was (drumroll, please!) load-in! That’s right, folks. As I write this post, the staff and cast of Patience are hard at work painting, drilling, sewing, lighting, and belting along to their favourite songs. (Meanwhile I, of weak grip strength and poor coordination, am keeping you, our adoring public, in the loop.) The set is well underway, but we’ve still got a ways to go before we can share it with our loyal fan base; however, attached are a few pictures to pique your interest.

Load-in is the one day during the show process when all of us, technically proficient and not, come together to work on the set. It’s really the Hackathon for theatre people. I love load-in because I always learn something new. This year, I learned how to paint wood to look like a different sort of wood! It is remarkably complicated, with several layers of colours and different techniques.

We are incredibly fortunate to have a dedicated staff that has already been toiling away at every aspect of the show. Shoutout to our fearless president and brilliant tech director, Richard Tong, who has been leading the build team, and to our treasurer/set design/paint extraordinaire, Sabrina Richert!

So far, only two G&Sers are lying on the floor of the Agassiz. Morale remains high. We remain caffeinated. We build on!

 

A New Year!

Written by Isabella Kopits.

Welcome back! We’re thrilled to welcome you all to our 2018–2019 season!

A month into the academic year, HRG&SP is already abuzz. This fall, we are putting on a production of Patience; or, Bunthorne’s Bride! The cast and staff have been working hard in the Ag. So, too, has our board! We are thrilled to announce our newest board members, Olivia and Amanda, who were inaugurated this fall.

In addition to producing Patience, the Board has been focused on community building. We hosted our annual Wine and Cheese party this weekend. Many Trader Joe’s* products were consumed, and much merriment was made by all. Wine and Cheese is one of my favourite HRG&SP events. It’s an excuse to dress up, and even better, it’s a reason to catch up with theater friends and community members. As the weather gets colder and midterms draw near, opportunities to leave homework behind and enjoy this place are precious. Stay tuned for updates on the show!

*We are not sponsored by Trader Joe’s, but I personally wouldn’t mind if we were.

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Our new board members: Olivia Manickas-Hill and Amanda Gonzalez-Piloto!

Visitas

Written by Abraham Rebollo

A sunny day, temperature in the mid-50s (could it finally be Spring?) with a cold wind to rein in anyone foolish enough to have dressed for warm weather. The smell of mulch looms in the air, intermingling with the smell of… indecision?

It was visiting weekend this past weekend at Harvard, bringing hordes of high school seniors trying so desperately to make their school decision before the deadline (c’mon guys, between the financial aid, meal plan, and guaranteed 4-year housing, the choice really is that simple). I do my best to avoid the hordes at all costs. That is, until the activities fair, where my introverted side (libra sun) has to take the back seat so my more extroverted self (aries moon) can get as many talented prefrosh as possible to agree to join our organization come fall.

I arrived at our stand, with its tri-fold covered in (old) production photos, a jar holding what appeared to be fairy wands(?) and British flags, and chocolate candies scattered about to entice passers-by (like a venus fly trap but fun!). I went into the board office, donned a beautiful orange flower crown over my baseball cap, and set to work. Richard and Sabrina covered the same shift as I, asking any freshman who made the mistake of making eye contact with us or looking in our general direction if they were “interested in musical theatre?” Many were frightened by this very question. Those who weren’t, however, seemed quite promising. A lot of them were instrumentalists, many of whom were violinists/cellists. Of those interested who were singers, many sang the lower voice parts. Perhaps a good sign that we will, in the future, be very easily able to find string players and male chorus members?

Fingers-crossed, I suppose we’ll find out when we start Patience in the fall!

Next Year’s Season

Written by Ned Sanger

Yeomen of the Guard closed over two weeks ago. What’s next on the docket for HRG&SP?

In the fall of this year, we’ll put on Patience; or, Bunthorne’s Bride. For those who aren’t yet familiar with the plot: the eponymous Patience is a humble milkmaid who catches the eye of two ardent poets, Reginald Bunthorne and Archibald Grosvenor. This creates a thorny love triangle which demands, in order to secure its resolution, a full-length operetta filled with jabs at the vain aestheticism, overwrought poetry, pretentious Victorian personalities and wailing romanticism that Londonites had to endure as they waited for the 20th century to hurry up and arrive. The libretto might be the funniest Gilbert ever wrote. The show will be produced by Arianna Paz ’19, Sabrina Richert ’20, Sunny Levine ’20, and Yours Truly ’19.

Once Patience has ended and spring hath sprung, we’ll put on The Gondoliers; or, The King of Barataria. Gilbert set the show in Italy, presumably so that he could maintain some plausible deniability as he mocked the aristocracy and monarchy of his own native country. The impetus of the plot is a case of confused identity: Giuseppe and Marco, two charming gondoliers, are informed that one of them is certainly the heir to Barataria—but due to a drunken mishap, it’s not clear which of the two it is. The show was one of Gilbert and Sullivan’s final collaborations, and remains one of their strongest.

So that’s next year’s season. Enjoy!

April Snows bring May Flowers?

Written by Arianna Paz

Despite the below-freezing temperatures outside, the inside of the Signet Society Mansion was bursting with the spring season for HRG&SP’s annual Spring Tea!  The April snow didn’t stop us from dressing in spring attire and gathering to celebrate a year of two successful productions, old friends, new friends, and great memories! The event featured piles of cookies, scones, and tea sandwiches, as well as the annual hat competition and a toast to our graduating seniors.

On a more personal note, Spring Tea, the last community-wide event on HRG&SP’s calendar, has always been an opportunity for me to reflect on the past year with the company.  Looking back on my junior year, I am constantly in awe of and extremely thankful for the incredible opportunities HRG&SP has given me. In one school year alone, I went from serving as a board member and helping to run an undergraduate theater company to performing Mabel and Phoebe, two vastly different roles in both their character and voice-type.  HRG&SP is truly a special organization, and I can hardly believe that I only have two semesters left here!

To the patrons reading this: it is your generous contributions that make all of this possible! Thank you so much for your continued support to HRG&SP’s and community!

To this year’s graduating class: thank you for all you’ve taught me and the younger members of HRG&SP.  Your energy, passion, and devotion to forming this community means so much to so many people. We’re going to miss you all – be sure to come back and visit us!

While my junior year isn’t quite over yet, I am extremely excited to return to Harvard for my senior fall, ready to produce Patience; or, Bunthorne’s Bride alongside my wonderful colleagues Ned Sanger, Sabrina Richert, and Sunny Levine! A ton of preparation has already gone into this production, and we are so looking forward to bringing the canon’s funniest operetta to Harvard! Don’t miss the show, set to run November 2nd – November 11th in the Agassiz Theater!

Champagne

Written by Richard Tong

I should have drank more champagne.
– the apocryphal last words of John Maynard Keynes

I can say with a high degree of certainty that John Maynard Keynes
never attended one of the Harvard-Radcliffe Gilbert & Sullivan
Players’ Victorian Balls. If he had, his famous last words would make
no sense, for the bubbles at last Saturday’s Ball flowed almost as swiftly
and effortlessly as the conversation it accompanied.*

There’s a strong case to be made that HRG&SP’s “Vic Ball” is the most
exciting event in our calendar, and not merely for its attendant rivers
of champagne. Now in its thirteenth year, Vic Ball is an opportunity
for show participants to celebrate, for alumni to reunite, and, above
all, for a community formed around two eccentric Englishmen to
express a most singular belief: that music and art, no matter how silly,
have the power to bring us joy, to bring us beauty, and to bring us a
more perfect understanding of what it means to be human.

Though they are shrouded in layers of absurd situational comedy,
Gilbert’s libretti are, at their heart, intensely human. More than any
other Savoy Opera, The Yeomen of the Guard embodies this penetrating
understanding of human nature. The operetta’s denouement is striking
not only for Gilbert’s typical absurdity but also forits beauty, a fact not
lost on the many audience members who approached our cast and crew
after performances to remark just how affecting Yeomen was.

When I look back on Yeomen, I see a microcosm of my six semesters with
HRG&SP—the initial excitement at being cast, followed by a rush of
stress as opening night creeps closer. Then comes the elation of the first
show, followed by new anxieties before every subsequent performance.
All too soon, the show is over and the set broken into pieces; all one can
hope for is for the process to repeat itself, all over again.

But a show must end, and so too must a blog post. After too many
paragraphs extolling the spirit of Gilbert and Sullivan and its
manifestation in Vic Ball, it is time for me to stop writing and put
away my pen. John Maynard Keynes may not have had enough
champagne in his time, but if this paean to Gilbert and Sullivan is
anything to judge by, I have certainly drunk my fill.

*Keynes also died in 1946, a full sixty years before our first Victorian
Ball.

Milk and Cookies (and Cymbals!): Happy Opening Weekend!

Written by Elena Sokoloski

Congratulations are in order to the cast and staff of, The Yeomen of the Guard, which opened this Friday to HRG&SP’s biggest audience in recent memory! The real stars of the show were the all of the fantastic kids who came to Saturday’s Milk & Cookies Matinee: Dozens of serious young audience members came, dressed in their best for the performance, and donning hard hats for a special backstage tour after the show. Star board member, set designer, and paint charge Sabrina Richert led them through the set, talking with kids from age 1 to 99 about the way that each piece was constructed.

It was hard to believe that just a week ago we were in the theater, struggling over how to put up a wall twice as tall as any of us, and balancing ladders on platforms to reach unruly lights. The theater stage is such a playful space, but often so inaccessible to all but the actors and technicians – to see our audience playing on it was so meaningful, as someone who had participated in its design and construction.

Some particularly adventurous audience members ventured over to the orchestra, where I’m proud to say we made five new percussionists that day! They learned about how I use the timpani and bell to create different sound effects during the show, as well as how hard it is to pick up the heavy cymbals! I’m always impressed by the questions they come up with, and the perspective with which they approach the show. One boy wanted to know why we didn’t have a saxophone in the orchestra (the others thought this would be a good idea, too), and another asked, very seriously, how we were able to see our music in the dark. Their curiosity reminded me of my own first times in the audience of a show, and, in retrospect, made the performance that much more special.

In the end, teamwork made a cymbal crash possible, to the tune of another new percussionist’s triangle-melody, and all left with fun pictures, new friends, and, most importantly, cookies!

 

An Update from Yeomen Cast

Written by Sunny Levine

On behalf of the cast of HRG&SP’s production of Yeomen of the Guard, welcome to tech week! Monday was our first rehearsal of tech week and first all-cast rehearsal back from spring break. We donned costumes and did a piano run of the show. The Yeomen team is in the process of cleaning up blocking and choreography for some scenes and numbers, and we’re so excited to be able to share our work with an audience soon! After tonight’s run, cast is feeling especially grateful to our wonderful designers, technicians, and staff, who have worked incredibly hard to help make this show a success. This is my second consecutive semester as part of the cast in a G&S show, and as I’ve settled into the process, I’ve become even more grateful to be working with a team of such rockstars! For most of our cast, it was the first time running numbers on the absolutely gorgeous and complete set, and we were in awe. We can’t wait to open this Friday, and we hope to see you there!