New YorK Gilbert & Sullivan Players, America's preeminent professional Gilbert & Sullivan repertory company, launches its G&S Fest 2013, presenting three iconic productions: The Mikado (January 4-6), H.M.S. Pinafore (Jan. 11th -13) and The Yeomen of the Guard (Jan. 18-20) when the company stages its gala return to NY City Center (West 55th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues) . Under the artistic and music direction of Albert Bergeret, the company has, for 38 seasons, presented over 2,600 performances throughout the United States, Canada, and England. Incorporating a 25-piece orchestra, its productions feature contemporary energy while retaining a traditional respect for each of the G&S masterpieces. New YorK Gilbert & Sullivan Players is considered by many to be the nation's "leading custodian of the G&S classics."
In The Mikado, or The Town of Titipu, the location is a fictitious Japanese town full of colorful characters - 3 little maids from school, a wandering minstrel, a hilariously corrupt public official, and a Lord High Executioner who may have a list of potential victims but is too tenderhearted to actually perform his duties. Beautiful school girl Yum-Yum loves the romantic minstrel Nanki-Poo but is engaged to Ko-Ko the executioner. This romantic triangle takes the usual course of thwarted romance, until the arrival first of the fearsome Katisha, claiming Nanki-Poo as her "perjured lover," and later of the emperor, or Mikado, himself - with his own list of punishments to fit the crime. In order to resolve the ensuing complications, Ko-Ko must use his wits to convince the most unattractive Katisha to marry him - in record time. That done, all other potentially dangerous circumstances are settled by the Mikado's all encompassing pronouncement "nothing could possibly be more satisfactory."
H.M.S. Pinafore, or The Lass That Loved a Sailor marks the start of the Gilbert & Sullivan collaboration's hit parade and the beginning of musical theatre as we know it. On board H.M.S. Pinafore, the lowly sailor, Ralph Rackstraw, has fallen in love with Josephine, daughter of the repressed, but ever polite, Captain Corcoran whose social climbing ambitions have caused him to promise Josephine in marriage to the insufferable Sir Joseph Porter, K.C.B, First Lord of the Admiralty. While the crew and Sir Joseph's groupies, referred to as "his sisters and his cousins and his aunts" dance their way across the deck, Josephine promises not to follow her heart in returning Ralph's affection and the Captain reveals his own attraction to the lowly peddler woman, Little Buttercup, who hints that "things are seldom what they seem." Sir Joseph senses Josephine's coolness to his advances, but is convinced by the Captain to make another effort in the boisterous Bell Trio. In a deliberately absurd twist of fate, Little Buttercup reveals that Ralph and the Captain were switched at birth, thereby allowing both Corcorans to marry the objects of their affections, within their own social classes. Sir Joseph is resigned to marrying his most devoted groupie, Cousin Hebe.
The Yeomen of the Guard, or The Merryman and His Maid is the most operatic of the Gilbert & Sullivan masterpieces. The score is full of grand and intimate moments - delicate, dramatic, and sincerely moving by degrees. The only G&S collaboration which takes place in an actual historic time and location, it nevertheless contains the wit and satire of human nature which define their art. Set in the Tower of London during the turbulent reign of King Henry the Eighth, The Yeomen of the Guard is the story of a gallant prisoner falsely accused, two girls who love him, and an out of work itinerant jester. A comic jailer and a busy body old lady provide comic relief from the multiple tales of intrigue as the heroic prisoner narrowly escapes execution, woos the woman to whom he is already secretly wed, and dashes the hopes of the jilted jester in the process.
The NYGASP productions will feature, staging by Mr. Bergeret and co-director/choreographer David Auxier, costumes by Gail J. Wofford; lighting by Brian Presti and scenery by Albère.