Blog

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

A Magic Lozenge?

Even W.S. Gilbert fought against one of many writers’ most dreaded adversaries: writer’s block. Following the conclusion of Princess Ida at the Savoy Theatre, Gilbert and Sullivan were at a standstill with regards to what form their next operetta should take. It was at this point, Gilbert suggested a plot regarding a “magic lozenge” that would introduce conflict into the plot. Sullivan was not keen on this idea, calling the idea lacking in “human interest and probability”, and it was also reminiscent of one of their first productions The Sorcerer where everyone falls in love with the wrong person as a result of a love potion. This resulted in production of a new Savoy opera being stalled until Gilbert came up with the idea for The Mikado, which went on to become the most successful of Gilbert and Sullivan’s collaborations.

However, do not fear, for the “magic lozenge” idea was not lost completely to history. In fact, Gilbert collaborated with two other composers, Alfred Cellier, who died in the process of creating the comic opera, and Ivan Caryll, who finished in Cellier’s place, to write The Mountebanks, which was a comic opera in which a magical potion is administered which transforms people into what they pretend to be. However, this was not a huge success, and it was on par with the moderate success of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Utopia, Limited, running for 229 performances. Critics praised Gilbert’s libretto at the time, but reviews of the score were mixed.

One can only wonder what might have happened should this plot have been used as the plot in Gilbert and Sullivan’s next collaboration and if it would have caused them to stop collaborating earlier or been a rollicking success, but alas, we must be satisfied with Gilbert and Sullivan’s six final collaborations: The Mikado, Ruddigore, The Yeomen of the Guard, The Gondoliers, Utopia, Limited, and The Grand Duke that were still to come.

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

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.

Ruddigore1956
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).

IMG_8109

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.

NewBoardies
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!