Giving Vitality to the Living Legacy of Gilbert & Sullivan
The leading custodian of the G&S Classics
Now in its fourth decade of operation, New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players (NYGASP) is America’s preeminent professional Gilbert & Sullivan repertory ensemble. Under the dynamic leadership of Artistic Director Albert Bergeret, who has been hailed as “the leading custodian of the G&S classics” by New York magazine, NYGASP has created its own special niche in the cultural mosaic of New York City and the nation. Since its founding in 1974, the company has presented over 2,000 performances of the G&S masterpieces throughout the eastern United States and Canada, captivating audiences of all ages.
NYGASP’s productions are charged with contemporary energy while retaining that traditional respect for the shows themselves which is so important to Gilbert & Sullivan enthusiasts.
Mr. Bergeret’s vision for his company’s mission is clear: to build and maintain an ensemble of professional repertory singers, actors, dancers, and musicians dedicated to bringing quality performances of the Gilbert & Sullivan masterpieces to as wide an audience as possible. To do so, he has developed a unique blend of creative spontaneity and classical precision, which is neither revisionist in nature nor mired in the rigidity of the more typical view of “tradition”. NYGASP’s productions are charged with contemporary energy while retaining that traditional respect for the shows themselves which is so important to Gilbert & Sullivan enthusiasts. The use of elaborate, but relevant choreography and movement is a particularly important element. Where possible, topical references from the nineteenth century are updated when the original intent would be lost on a modern musical theatre audience, but without disturbing the shape or scope of the material as written. Gilbert’s satire of human foibles and sophisticated wit remain intact, while Sullivan’s evocative scores, which need no revision at all, are given the full range of vocal and orchestral color for which they call.
The company has in its repertory thirteen different complete G&S operettas (cast, orchestra and crew of 50-80 people), special versions of the most popular operettas designed for children’s audiences, and a variety of charming concert programs created especially for NYGASP’s “Wand’ring Minstrels” ensemble.
Recognition and stature for NYGASP programs continues to grow. In January of 2002 the company mounted the first of its annual seasons at New York’s venerable City Center, performing The Mikado, H.M.S. Pinafore, and The Pirates of Penzance to over 20,000 G&S enthusiasts in 3 weeks. The company also makes an annual appearance at Wolf Trap Farm Park in Vienna, Virginia, where a loyal and exuberant audience of over 5,000 attends each performance. After a performance there in 1998, the company enjoyed a memorable visit with acknowledged G&S fan the late Chief Justice William Rehnquist following the show. NYGASP received a favorable review from The Washington Post for its topical rendition of The Mikado, as well as a picture in People Magazine with the Chief Justice. In August of 2004 the company was featured at the Annual International Gilbert & Sullivan Festival in Buxton, England. In January of 2005 the company received rave reviews for its production of The Pirates of Penzance with guest star Hal Linden as The Major-General, and in December of 2005 had its founding and history presented as a feature article in The New York Times. The company’s celebrated ensemble of G&S experts, developed by introducing new singers each year from New York’s immense pool of vocal and theatrical talent, has collaborated with such guest artists as world-renowned G&S exponent John Reed, O.B.E. in numerous comic baritone roles, Tony winner John Rubinstein and Frank Gorshin both as King Gama in Princess Ida, John Astin as Sir Joseph in H.M.S. Pinafore, Noel Harrison as the Major-General in The Pirates of Penzance, Pat Carroll as Little Buttercup in H.M.S. Pinafore, and Steve Allen as The Mikado.
NYGASP’s 25th Anniversary was fêted in April 1999 with a Gilbert & Sullivan Extravaganza featuring tributes, recollections of the Company’s illustrious history and a symposium entitled “Gilbert & Sullivan in the New Millenium - The Pros and Cons of Updating.” In honor of the occasion, a dedicated fund and annual award for artistic achievement were established in the name of a noted and much loved Gilbert & Sullivan enthusiast - the late Isaac Asimov -who was a devoted fan of the Company’s work.
NYGASP’s first CD, “Oh, Joy! Oh, Rapture!”, contains an exuberant selection of G&S highlights and is available for purchase through the company’s office.