TRIAL BY JURY AND THE GRAND DUKE
Libretto: W S Gilbert; Composer: Arthur Sullivan
Directors: John Drummond and Hilary Norris
Musical Director: Michael Andrewes
The Really Authentic Gilbert and Sullivan Performance Trust
at Mayfair Theatre, Dunedin
From 4 Aug 2012 to 10 Aug 2012
Reviewed by: Louise Petherbridge;
The Final Season of the Complete Gilbert and Sullivan in Dunedin
The Really Authentic Gilbert and Sullivan Performance Trust (RAGSPT) was founded in 2001 specifically to stage in Dunedin between 2002 and 2012 high-quality annual productions of the complete series of 13 surviving G&S comic operas.
This year's concluding production season re-stages G&S's short operatic gem, Trial By Jury, as a reminder of where the project began ten years ago, and then completes the canon with the rarely-performed final opera, The Grand Duke. To the best of our knowledge, this work has only been staged in NZ once before - by the Wellington Amateur Operatic Society in June 1900!
Trial By Jury, just 35 minutes long, is a concise, witty, elegant and near-perfect work of art, which pokes gentle fun at the British legal system in a plot built around a case of breach of promise.
The Grand Duke is a full-scale mad-cap romp set in a fictional German Grand Duchy in which Gilbert returns to a favourite theme – the taking-up of political power by a troupe of actors.
Over the years, the RAGSPT's unique performing arts project, described by one observer as irresistibly quixotic, has brought together supportive backers, performers, personnel and audiences in a community enterprise which has contributed to Dunedin's image as a special centre for artistic work and celebrated a Victorian heritage which is part of the city's identity. Seeing the project through in all its complexity over 11 years has entailed passion and commitment, enabling a new generation to discover through high-quality performances such well-loved operatic masterpieces as The Mikado and The Gondoliers alongside the delights of the lesser-known Patience or The Yeomen of the Guard, as well as rarities like The Sorcerer and Utopia (Limited).
Four of Dunedin's theatrical personalities – Geoff Smith, Donald Evans, Hilary Norris and John Drummond – have, between them, directed nine of the operas over the years, while English professional music-theatre specialist, Alan Spencer, was invited to direct “the big four” G&S works – H.M.S.Pinafore, The Pirates of Penzance, The Mikado and The Gondoliers. Dunedin's Michael Andrewes has been Musical Director throughout, with the city's fine Southern Sinfonia in the pit as accompanying orchestra every year, featuring between 24 and 27 players per opera, depending on Sullivan's original scoring. In an exciting moment of artistic authenticity, a further 12 musicians were on stage in the guise of Grenadier Guards performing Sullivan's contribution to the pageantry of Iolanthe's Peers' Chorus in 2005.
The Trust has had a policy of inviting annually at least one professional guest artist from outside Dunedin to perform a leading role and to serve as a model of excellence for a cast otherwise made up of southern performers. In this way, it has been possible to invest a solid dose of professional expertise in the productions, more often than not in the otherwise difficult-to-fill-in-Dunedin leading tenor roles, in which fine singers Stephen Brown (England), Stephen Smith (Australia) and Justin Freind (Australia) have each excelled more than once. From within New Zealand, and among others, Joel Allen, back from Wellington for The Grand Duke and his sixth guest appearance with the company, has contributed a unique ability to deliver and inflect Gilbert's complex rhythmic language to perfection and an otherwise impeccable stage craft.
This year's concluding season brings together a principal cast, all of whose actors have been represented, some more than once, in the Trust's previous twelve productions. Similarly, this year's large chorus includes only three members new to the company – testimony to the loyalty of the Trust's core performing membership.
The final curtain on the project will fall at the Mayfair Theatre, Dunedin, on Friday 10 August, with 27 members of the Southern Sinfonia in the pit, after a short season opening on Saturday 4th.
Trial By Jury:
Saturday 4 August at 6.00pm (members only),
Tuesday 7 August at 6.00pm, Friday 10 August at 6.00pm
The Grand Duke:
Saturday 4 August at 7.30pm (members only),
Sunday 5 August at 2.30pm, Tuesday 7 August at 7.30pm, Thursday 9 August at 7.30pm, Friday 10 August at 7.30pm
BOOKINGS are now open at the Regent Theatre, Dunedin (03) 477 8597 or 0800 4 TICKET or 0800 224 224. Website bookings: www.ticketdirect.co.nz.
At double-opera performances there will be an opportunity to purchase tickets for finger food and refreshments to be served in the Mayfair Theatre Green Room between operas (approx. 45-minute break – numbers limited – pre-booking essential).
A number of celebratory or reunion events are planned around the 2012 season and former members can get in touch through the website below.
Trial By Jury
Scene: A Court of Justice
The Learned Judge – Dave Solomon
The Plaintiff – Sophie Uriaro
The Defendant – Matt Wilson
Counsel for the Plaintiff – John Kiernan-Sear
Usher – Bruce McMillan
Foreman of the Jury – Karl Power
The Grand Duke
Act I – Public Square of Speisesaal;
Act II – Hall in the Grand Ducal Palace
Rudolph (Grand Duke of Pfennig Halbpfennig) – Barry Dorking
Ernest Dummkopf (a Theatrical Manager) – Justin Friend
Ludwig (his Leading Comedian) – Joel Allen
Dr Tannhäuser (a Notary) – Chris Caradus
The Prince of Monte Carlo – Brian McKay
Viscount Mentone – John Satterthwaite
Ben Hashbaz (a Costumier) – Ray Sheppard
Herald – Tanara Stedman
The Princess of Monte Carlo (betrothed to Rudolph) – Erin Cameron
The Baroness von Krakenfeldt (betrothed to Rudolph) – Jane Robertson
Julia Jellicoe (an English Comédienne) – Nadya Shaw Bennett
Lisa (a Soubrette) – Sarah Oliver
(Members of Ernest Dummkopf's Company)
Olga } – Rebecca Moyle
Gretchen } – Lisa Sutherland
Bertha } – Barbara Bloemsaat
Elsa } – Sarah Levings
Martha } – Rebecca Sarkies
Chorus of Bridesmaids, Public in the Court, Actresses etc.
Deborah Bell, Barbara Bloemsaat, Phyll Esplin, Hannah Grills, Jocelyn Le Petit, Sarah Levings, Rebecca Moyle, Rebecca Sarkies, Veronica Stevenson, Lisa Sutherland, Heidi Thompson, Alice Watson, Amanda Waugh
Chorus of Jurymen, Public in the Court, Chamberlains, Nobles, Actors etc.
Andrew Body, Russell Clark, Reegan Lastovicha, Stephen Murphy, Karl Power, Nick Price-Ellison, John Satterthwaite, Ray Sheppard, Tanara Stedman, Campbell Thomson, Tony Williams, Dan Wilson
Stage Director (Trial By Jury): – John Drummond
Stage Director (The Grand Duke): – Hilary Norris
Associate Director (The Grand Duke): – Jonathan Cweorth
Musical Director: – Michael Andrewes
Repetiteur and Assistant to the Musical Director: – Jonathan Drummond
Production Manager (Trial By Jury): – Vickie Cross
Stage Manager (Trial By Jury): – Geoff Patton
Production and Stage Manager (The Grand Duke): – Karen Elliot
Choreography: – Jonathan Cweorth, Nadya Shaw Bennett
Set Design: – John Drummond, Hilary Norris
Set Construction: – Geoff Patton
Set Painting: – Geoff Patton, Ray Sheppard, Jonathan Cweorth, Karen Elliot
Costumes Designer: – Annette Waugh
Wardrobe: – Jodi Barrett, Amanda Waugh
Dressers: – Leah Herbert, Colleen McCrae
Hair, Wigs: – Lorna Mercer
Props: – Karen Elliot, Vickie Cross
Make-up Director: – Kimberley Jones
Make-up Assistant: – Oliva Wardell
Lighting Designer: – Stephen Kilroy
Lighting Operator: – Stephen Kilroy
Promotion: – Michael Andrewes, Dave Solomon
Programme: – Michael Andrewes, Dave Solomon
Front of House: – Tricia Scott
For the Trust
Newsletter: – Michael Andrewes, Dave Solomon
Graphic Design: – Dave Solomon
Website: – Richard Holland
Photography: – Dave Solomon, Nicky Solomon, Stephen Murphy
Audio Engineer: – John Patrick
Videographer: – Robert van der Vyver
Gala night function: – Colin Gibson, Judy Russell
Project liaison: – Sarah Oliver, Heidi Thompson
Regional Co-ordinators: – Jan Babington (Oamaru), Ruth Briscoe (Wanaka), Bill Christie (Gore)