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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!

In Good Order!

Written by Sabrina Richert

The tower is in place, the cyc is hung, the platforms are loaded on stage, the rocks are all textured, all the locks, chains, bolts and bars are in good order… Whether these allusions to tech duties are in doubtful taste or not, tech crunch time has come again for the G&S show of the semester! The set of Yeomen of the Guard has really started to shape up and come to life, thanks to the hundreds of hours of work put in by the HRG&SP community. We are working on the final building and painting projects, and watching as the Tower of London in the 1500s starts to take form onstage in the Agassiz Theater, with textured rocks, broken heart motifs, and moss abound. This is always one of my favorite times as a designer, when I can look around and see all the work put in by the separate departments (build, paint, lights, orchestra, costumes, cast, etc.) and see it converging into a complete whole. It is always so rewarding to watch a production come together, from being an amorphous amalgamation of ideas and thoughts becoming an actual operetta staged on a physical set.

While I have been spending a significant amount of my time painting at the Agassiz Theater lately, Yeomen has started to creep into other aspects of my life as well, from the perpetual paint on my fingernails that I can never quite wash off, to the songs that I hum and just can’t seem to get out of my head as I work on my Japanese homework, to the ear plugs I have to dig through in my backpack to get to my pencils everyday in class.

As opening night draws nigh, we are getting more and more excited to share all of our hard work on this production with you, and we really hope to see you there at one of the following times!

Friday, March 23 at 8PM (Creative Black Tie Opening)
Saturday, March 24 at 2PM (Milk & Cookies Matinee)
Saturday, March 24 at 8PM
Sunday, March 25 at 2PM
Thursday, March 29 at 8PM (Free with HUID)
Friday, March 30 at 8PM
Saturday, March 31 at 6PM (Alumni Night)
Sunday, April 1 at 2PM

Yeomen of the Load-In

Written by Michaela Kane

This past Sunday was quite an eventful one, as the cast and staff of Yeomen came together to load in the set and alights in preparation for the show! We still have nearly 3 weeks until opening, but there’s no time like the present to get ready for our full tech runs after spring break.

Over the course of the day, we finished up build, started on extensive painting, and even hung up a cyc to surround the beautiful Tower of London! I don’t want to spoil things too much for our audience, but look forward to one of the most realistic sets HRG&SP has produced, featuring three-dimensional flagstones.

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From left to right: Props Designer Abraham Rebollo, Yeoman Sam Guilemette, and Producer Peryn Reeves-Darby paint a tower flat

Load-In, as always, was a busy and eventful day, but we were graced by the presence of Whiskey – Agassiz Assistant Technical Director Liz Dean’s 9 month-old golden retriever! Nothing like puppy kisses to keep you going during a full day of tech!

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From left to right: Dame Carruthers Rachel Share-Sapolsky and Chorus Member Sophie Bauder with Whiskey the dog

We are less than a month away from opening, so be sure to reserve your tickets for Yeomen of the Guard now! We can’t wait to see you all there!

Yeomen Sitzprobe!

Written By Michaela Kane

As a second-time producer and a senior Board member, there are quite a few things I like to think I’ve gotten used to during my time with HRG&SP. Attending weekly Board meetings has become a part of my regular schedule, shop training now takes a half hour at most, and running production meetings is thoroughly ingrained in my psyche as a technical producer. But one thing that changes with every semester, every cast, and every show is the first day the pieces start to fall into place: The Day of Sitz.

Yesterday, the cast and (ye)orchestra came together for the first time and ran through the entirety of Yeomen of the Guard, and like every Sitzprobe, it was just a little bit magical. Not everything was perfect — nothing ever really is in theater — but getting to watch everyone work and stumble and push through together is part of what I think makes being a producer truly rewarding. Under the watchful eyes of our Music Director, Colton Carter, and our orchestra liaison and producer, Elena Sokoloski, the cast and orchestra made it through an entire run of the show, even bringing some to tears with the final, poignant notes of Jack(ie) Point (Rebecca Thau, ‘20).

We can’t wait to see the show only improve from here! We hope to see you at one of our performances coming up just next month:

Friday, March 23 at 8PM (Creative Black Tie Opening)
Saturday, March 24 at 2PM (Milk & Cookies Matinee)
Saturday, March 24 at 8PM
Sunday, March 25 at 2PM
Thursday, March 29 at 8PM (Free with HUID)
Friday, March 30 at 8PM
Saturday, March 31 at 6PM (Alumni Night)
Sunday, April 1 at 2PM

Get your tickets from the Box Office today!

I Wanna Be a Producer!

Written by Isabella Kopits

Over the last several weeks, I’ve found myself listening to the soundtrack of Mel Brooks’ The Producers. While I am a fan of meta-musical theater in general (trust me, it’s a thing), The Producers has spoken to me in particular, largely because I am incredibly fortunate to be co-producing Yeomen of the Guard!

As a first time producer, I’m learning that there’s a lot more to the job than just glamorous parties and fabulous friends (although HRG&SP does provide those, too!). Producing is usually the first thing I do when I wake up, and the last thing I do before I fall asleep. There are shady deals made in the night, endless emails, and hours of meetings. I’ve already stashed a sleeping bag in the costume room for late nights in the Agassiz Theater. It’s a lot of effort, but producing is a labour of love. How could anyone not fall for Elsie’s soaring lines or Jack Point’s patters?

I’ve been thinking about Yeomen since last winter, and thinking about producing since before I knew what it was. For my fellow biologists out there — if directors are the brains behind the show, producers are the mitochondria! We are the power behind a lot of the operations that happen behind-the-scenes. We attend rehearsals, support our staff, build things, paint things, tape things, and coerce our friends into helping out, too. It’s a crazy job, but I am loving every minute of it!

Don’t miss the event of the season,  Yeomen of the Guard; or, The Merryman and His Maid March 23 – April 1 in the Historic Agassiz Theater!

I have a secret desire
Hiding deep in my soul
It sets my heart afire
To see me in this role
I wanna be a producer!”

The Scheme

Written by Richard Tong

The scheme is rash and well may fail,
But ours are not the hearts that quail

The scheme Gilbert sought to describe in the couplet above was one of subterfuge and perversion of justice. While, for legal reasons, the Harvard-Radcliffe Gilbert & Sullivan Players can’t honestly make claim to having committed a treasonous felony of equal magnitude to that committed by the characters in The Yeomen of the Guard*, we find the sentiment Gilbert expressed perfectly fitting in describing our attitude as we embark upon our rehearsal process.

This past week has seen our fledgling cast and orchestra take their first few steps in learning the extraordinary libretto and score that is The Yeomen of the Guard. The birds are all caged, the wild beasts all littered down, and the “rack, pincers, and thumbscrews all ready for work.” The other critical instruments—not of torture but of music and theatre (and, shockingly, of musical theatre)—are also being readied.

Over the last seven days, I have personally watched an orchestra rehearse, asked a jester to teach me the art of jesting, and sung indignantly about a girl who loves another man. If this is indicative of events to come, then I can say without hesitation that Yeomen will be quite the event.

Tickets go on sale at the Harvard Box Office on February 23, but in the interim you can find out more about our production on the Happening Now page of our website, and also become a patron to support our production.

Yeomen of the Guard opens in the historic Agassiz Theatre on March 23. Until then, and as we continue to rehearse, we can only look to Gilbert’s words for inspiration:

We may succeed—who can foretell?
May heaven help our hope—farewell!

*or, for that matter, one of greater or lesser magnitude.

Another One!

Written by Peryn Reeves-Darby


And we’re back! HRG&SP is up and running after a relaxing winter break filled with anticipation for our next show Yeomen of the Guard; or, the Merryman and his Maid! We got back on campus and jumped right into things. During the first two weeks, we auditioned some of the most talented students on campus and we’re so happy to end up with a cast chock full of them! From Phoebe to Wilfred to the Yeomen, we have a diverse set of voices and actors who are excited to bring one of Gilbert and Sullivan’s most touching pieces to life. Just this weekend we began our dive into this beautiful story with our bi-annual Sing Through. This is the time where everyone in the cast comes together for the first time to meet one another, have some snacks, and sing through the entire show. It’s new, exciting, a little clunky, and always fun! Let’s just say, we can’t wait to see what this show becomes!

Pirates Wrap Up

Written by Peryn Reeves-Darby

And that’s a wrap! We are officially done with our fall run of The Pirates of Penzance. Thank you to our directors, Patrick Cressler ’20 and Mateo Lincoln ’19, for their endless creativity and dedication to this production. Reimaging a G&S show in a different time and place is always a risk, and I think this one paid off. I felt like I was living in the cool world of 1940s New York. I also want to personally thank everyone who came to support our film noir take on this G&S classic. I’m still combing through emails which compliment the wonderful work of our cast, orchestra, and crew! We’ve all had a wonderful experience this semester working together to create something that we’re proud of.

We’ve already started gathering a staff for next semester’s production of The Yeoman of the Guard—the whole process begins over again! But for now, it’s time to take a little breather and get back to the school work that we’ve been putting off. Time to leave the theater and return to the library.