Introduce yourself to the wonderful shows that make up the NYGASP repertory. Below are all 13 Gilbert & Sullivan operas and Sullivan’s last work, The Rose of Persia, with librettist Basil Hood. Also included is the critically acclaimed NYGASP 1990 production of Of Thee I Sing by George and Ira Gershwin. To see more pictures of our productions, visit our Photo Gallery page! For small ensemble programs visit Wand'ring Minstrels.
- Trial By Jury
- The Sorcerer
- H.M.S. Pinafore
- The Pirates of Penzance
- Princess Ida
- The Mikado
- The Yeomen of the Guard
- The Gondoliers
- Utopia, Limited
- The Grand Duke
- The Rose of Persia
- Of Thee I Sing
- I’ve Got a Little Twist
Trial By Jury
Trial by Jury is an over the top send up of the legal system. A lecherous judge and all male jury, a gold digging plaintiff, a self professed cad of a defendant, and a sleazy lawyer turn the courtroom proceedings upside down with self serving arguments and musical merriment. This 45 minute farce is the perfect remedy for the boredom induced by long, drawn out trials on TV. Beautiful Angelina is suing dashing Edwin for "breech of promise of marriage". The courtroom buzzes with anticipation as Edwin enters and introduces himself as a lover of variety, especially in women. The Jurymen admit similar instincts, but condemn his lack of fidelity. The Court Usher advises impartiality, as long as it favors the pretty girl, and introduces the Judge who tells how he obtained his appointment to the position by pretending to fall in love with, then ditching, a rich attorney's "elderly, ugly daughter". All of the men drool over Angelina as she admits to not being quite so unhappy about having been jilted as the law suit would make it appear. Angelina's lawyer paints a melodramatic picture of his client's mental anguish, so Edwin proposes to marry her on the spot while marrying someone else the next day. When the idiotic lawyer points out that this amounts to "burglary", (it should be bigamy), the courtroom breaks into a great operatic parody to express the "nice dilemma". All is resolved to everyone's satisfaction when the wealthy Judge agrees to marry Angelina himself and pays off Edwin for his trouble.
The Sorcerer, about a respectable English shopkeeper who just happens to sell authentic sorcery products, touches on Gilbert's favorite theme of class distinction and calls for the audience pleasing device of magical theatrical illusions. Sullivan's underrated score contains lilting melody, glorious harmony, and just the right touch of pastoral sentiment to convey the essence of Gilbert's light hearted satire. In a quaint English village, a young military officer, Alexis, decides to purchase a love potion from the respectable sorcery peddler in order to distribute it to the entire populace of the town. Of course, this potion is compounded on the strictest of moral principles so as to have no effect on married persons. Once everyone has partaken of the potion all sorts of mismatches occur, including Alexis' noble father with a common pew opener, a noble lady with the sorcerer himself, and eventually Alexis' own fiancee with the lovable village vicar. Even the well meaning, but misguided, Alexis is unhappy with this situation, so the sorcerer agrees to forfeit his own life to set things back the way they were - disappearing magically as part of his sacrifice to the delight of all.
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 Pirates of Penzance
The Pirates of Penzance, or The Slave of Duty centers on the dilemma of young Frederic who, as a child, was mistakenly apprenticed to the pirates until his twenty first birthday. Helping Frederic to deal with this unusual predicament are the brash Pirate King, Ruth - the pirate maid-of-all-work, romantic Mabel, and the delightfully stuffy Major-General Stanley. On the rocky coast of Cornwall, England a band of tenderhearted pirates celebrates the coming of age of their apprentice, Frederic. Although Frederic's apprenticing to pirates was the mistake of his nurse maid Ruth, he has dutifully served, but he now announces his plan to devote his life to the extermination of piracy. The naive young man meets a group of beautiful girls, their father, the delightfully dotty Major-General, and enlists the help of some bumbling and diffident policemen. But Ruth and the Pirate King tell Frederic that his apprentice papers state that he won't be of age until his 21st birthday, which won't occur until the distant date of 1940 because Frederic was born in leap year on the 29th of February. Frederic is doomed to remain the pirate apprentice. The policemen try to capture the pirates on their own, but are easily defeated. Everyone is happy to discover that the pirates are really all "noblemen who have gone wrong", so all is forgiven in the end.
Patience or, Bunthorne's Bride - pretension, inflated egos, and the incompetence of those in power - no this is not about the current political scene but the grist of a Gilbert & Sullivan comic masterpiece Oscar Wilde and his friends may have been the objects of Gilbert's pointed satire, but this colorful send up of the 19th century aesthetic movement communicates the obvious parallels with other more familiar cults and their inherent excesses. Sullivan's score has an aesthetic beauty of its own but also wittily amplifies all of the outrageous juxtapositions between cult followers and their "uninitiated" counterparts. Throw in a dash of genuine pathos for a woman's subservient role in a repressive society and Patience further emerges as a relevant and timely piece. The phony poet Bunthorne has surrounded himself with adoring ladies, all formerly engaged to a regiment of heavy dragoon guards, who have now espoused the aesthetic cult at his suggestion. While the ladies fawn on him excessively, his affections have lighted on the simple village milkmaid, Patience, who has no understanding of either the current craze or the nature of romantic love. A rival, and equally trivial, poet, Grosvenor arrives to steal the attentions of both the fickle adoring crowd and the virtuous milkmaid, while the rigidly militaristic dragoons struggle valiantly to assume the role of willowy aesthetes - with decidedly mixed results. In the end the poseur Bunthorne's only choice for a bride is his own narcissism.
The burning question in Iolanthe, or The Peer and the Peri is, can a man who is half a fairy find happiness in a world where to marry a mortal is a capital crime? No this is not an indictment of gay marriage or the death penalty but a fanciful Victorian tale about a band of spritely females with "fairy brains" who "never grow old", the stodgy male House of Peers who rejoice that they "are persons of no capacity whatever", and confused "half a fairy" Strephon - the fellow who is literally caught in the middle. Could anyone wonder that this gentleman's lady friend wants to know "which half"? Gilbert's commentary on the human condition was never pithier while Sullivan's effervescent score evokes the conflict between the balletic fairies and the martial peers as well as the more serious motherly love of the title character. Last, but not least, Iolanthe also features the Lord Chancellor - an elderly gentlemen whose conflicting emotions as widower, would be lover, legal guardian, father figure, judge, and legislator play out in the course of three classic patter songs, including his delightfully convoluted tongue twister known as the "Nightmare Song". When the Fairy Queen's best friend, Iolanthe, returns to fairyland after a 25 year banishment for having married a mortal, she tells her fairy sisters that she has a son, Strephon, a man who has the mixed blessing of being half a fairy. When Strephon is thwarted in his attempts to marry the beautiful Phyllis by a group of stodgy politicians from the House of Lords and a deliciously conflicted Lord Chancellor, he calls upon the supernatural powers of his newly discovered "aunts". The ensuing impasse results in a riotous battle of the sexes which cannot be resolved until Iolanthe, following her motherly instincts, puts her life on the line to reveal that the Lord Chancellor is her husband and Strephon's father. But all fairy tales have happy endings, so the fairy law is amended, allowing everyone to get married and perhaps change their minds afterwards. As Strephon says, "That's the usual course!"
Princess Ida, or Castle Adamant is the classic battle of the sexes, which nobody can win but where true love triumphs! A witty and rousing send up of extremism on both sides, with a crusty curmudgeon, dashing young courtiers, 3 incredibly dumb warriors, and a determined feminist - with just a touch of sentiment and pathos. The women's lib movement started earlier than you might think. In order to promote peace between their warring countries, two kings, the none too bright male chauvinist Hildebrand and the viciously twisted cripple Gama, married their infant son and daughter twenty years ago. Prince Hilarion has grown into a determined romantic, while Princess Ida has established a woman's university where no men are permitted and the virtues of an all female society are promoted. Hilarion and two male friends, each in pursuit of true love, disguise themselves as girls in order to gain admission to the school. The sincerity of the prince's affection for the princess initially holds no sway when their true gender is discovered, but Ida relents when her three hulking warrior brothers lose a match fight to the three courtly gentlemen in women's garb. She reluctantly admits that, after all, the posterity of her all female society can only be secured with the assistance of men.
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."
Ruddigore, or The Witch's Curse - thrilling, but not chilling, is the word for this musically evocative send up of melodrama, replete with virtuous maidens, robust sailors, honest old folks, and dastardly bad baronets. Bridesmaids' dresses swirl in hornpipes and country dances, while ancestral ghosts appear magically from their portrait frames. Gilbert & Sullivan even poke fun at themselves in the delicious "Patter Trio" which proudly proclaims: "this particularly rapid, unintelligible patter isn't generally heard, and if it is it doesn't matter!" A family of baronets is under the unlikely curse of having to perform a crime of some sort each day. The most recent holder of the title has escaped this fate by hiding in a fishing village under an assumed name. When his younger brother reveals his true identity he is forced to assume his birthright position and face the ire of his predecessors, all ghosts represented by a picture gallery in the family estate. However, when the secret of how to break the curse comes to light, our hero is free to wed the beautiful, and very particular, girl of his dreams, while both his brother and recently deceased, but now fully revived, uncle find their own appropriate romantic matches.
The Yeomen of the Guard
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 Gondoliers or, The King of Barataria is the ultimate Gilbert & Sullivan hit featuring luxurious music, brilliant costumes, and exuberant choreography along with Gilbert's pithy commentary on social climbing, pretension, ignorance, and misguided notions of equality. With a whirl of skirts, a dash of Italian bravado, and the romantic strains of Sullivan's glorious score, two Venetian gondoliers, with highly developed egalitarian principles, take over the Spanish island kingdom of Barataria - with colorful, gleeful, and disastrous results. A Grand Inquisitor, the droll Don Alhambra, presides over the proceedings, occasionally "not quite equal to the intellectual pressure of the conversation" as pronounced by the decidedly plebeian former gondoliers, but always "up to date" with such apt comments as "when everyone is somebody, then no one's anybody." A riot of romance, revelry, and repartee! When gondoliers Marco and Giuseppe select peasant girls Gianetta and Tessa as their brides, they are surprised to discover that one of the brothers was stolen in infancy by the inquisition and is really the king of Barataria. The men set off for their new country until which of them is the true heir can be ascertained, but must leave behind their new wives. Meanwhile a penniless Spanish duke, his wife, his daughter Casilda, and his drummer boy Luiz arrive in Venice, also seeking the heir to the Baratarian throne, to whom the daughter was secretly wed in infancy. The Grand Inquisitor meets up with all of the inquisitive parties in the island kingdom where the nurse of the infant prince reveals that the true king is really Luiz, with whom Casilda has been in love all along. As usual in Gilbert's tales of class differences, all of the characters revert to their appropriate stations and love matches rather than fomenting social change.
Utopia Limited, or The Flowers of Progress is a rarely performed G&S satire concerning the attempts of an island paradise to clone the ways of Victorian England. The score is full of arching melodies, sprightly tunes, and rousing choruses while timely objects of Gilbert's wit include political correctness and governmental gridlock. Not bad for a neglected 100 year old work! Gilbert's humor is a bit more vindictive than in his previous works and Sullivan's score reflects the intricacies of a composer striving for a new level of composition, but both are delightful in their own way. Although Gilbert's lampooning of the 1862 invention of the principle of "limited liability" (here in America it is called "incorporation") seems a bit flat, the premise of an island paradise named "Utopia" desiring to "improve" its lot by adopting all things British, the privatization of government functions, the problems of the "tabloid press", satire on the difficulty of singing tenor, and other references in the show are uncannily up to date - typical of Gilbert's unerring insight into human foibles. King Paramount of Utopia has sent his oldest daughter to an English boarding school while importing an English lady to tutor his younger girls. When the elder student returns to her south sea island paradise home from the United Kingdom with seven idealistic "flowers of progress" representing various British institutions (amongst them a dashing young dragoon guard with whom she is in love) the locals adopt their white washed versions of Victorian ways, with catastrophic results.
The Grand Duke
The Grand Duke or, The Statutory Duel is the last of the Gilbert & Sullivan collaborations and brings the canon full circle with a plot concerning a troupe of actors assuming the role of governance - mirroring the plot of their first work together Thespis or, The Gods Grown Old for which Sullivan's score has never been found to date. The legal ramifications of this reversal in position is one of the former lawyer Gilbert's favorite topics A petty and miserly tyrant rules an obscure German grand duchy where a troupe of struggling actors have engaged a leading lady from far off England who, in typical Gilbertian reversal speaks with a German accent. A secret society, of which the actors are all members, plots to violently overthrow the Grand Duke, but when the miserable tyrant learns of their machinations he is happy to temporarily relinquish his position by the means of an obscure, and about to expire, law which establishes a bloodless "statutory duel" as a means of settling disputes, using cards in place of weapons. The winner assumes the loser's place and all his obligations. The troupe's lead comedian draws an ace in a statutory duel with the Grand Duke, assumes his title, and immediately renews the law, thereby making what was supposed to be a temporary abdication permanent. Things get hopelessly mixed up when a series of women present themselves at the court as legally intended brides of the Grand Duke (none of them at all interesting to the actor/ruler), but all is resolved, and everyone realigned with the appropriate partner, when it is discovered that an ace is constituted as the lowest, rather than highest, card in a statutory duel.
The Rose of Persia
The Rose of Persia, or The Story-Teller and the Slave takes place in a less complicated middle east where slave girls and the Sultana herself, Rose-In-Bloom, seek escape from the boredom of the harem by concealing themselves in the home of a wealthy philanthropist named Hassan who shuns the society of the Sultan's court. Hassan has "only" 25 wives, but is constantly trying to escape their whining complaints, especially those of his domineering first wife, Dancing Sunbeam. When the Sultan himself and his 3 top officers, disguised as holy men known as dervishes, come to check out the eccentric behavior of Hassan, things get hot for all concerned until the Sultan devises to play a joke whereby Hassan, in a drug induced stupor, is taken to the palace and hailed as the real Sultan - to the delight of Hassan's social climbing wives. While an itinerant Story-Teller and the slave girl, Heart's Desire, carry on an illicit romance, the rest of the Sultan's palace is busy perpetrating the ruler's practical joke, while the Sultan, an excellent commentator on the ways of modern man, shows his sincere affection for Rose-In-Bloom by refusing to discuss her illegal outing away from the harem. Hassan, rousing from his reverie, refuses to accept his new position and eventually tells the story of a relationship between himself as a boy and the previous Sultan which resolves matters to everyone's satisfaction, except his own, since he is now destined to return home with the insufferable Dancing Sunbeam and the rest of his complaining wives.
Of Thee I Sing
George (composer) and Ira (lyricist) of this Pulitzer Prize winning musical were both big fans of Gilbert & Sullivan. Along with renowned humorists George S. Kaufman and Morrie Ryskind, they created a 1930's blend of political satire and commentary on human excesses to rival the Victorian duo, in a very American format. Presidential candidate John P. Wintergreen decides to hold a beauty pageant with the title of First Lady as the grand prize and to run on a platform of "Love is Sweeping the Country." Instead of marrying the true contest winner, slinky southern belle Diana Devereaux, Wintergreen falls for an All American secretary, and baker of corn muffins without corn - a depression era joke, named Mary Turner. The ensuing true love campaign leads to a landslide election victory that is tainted only by jilted Miss Devereaux's claim to be the rightful presidential mate, however the Supreme Court rules that corn muffins are more important than justice and send her packing with a rousing chorus "Of Thee I Sing, Baby." Meanwhile the unassuming vice president, Alexander Throttlebottom, can only gain access to the swinging White House by taking a public tour until he learns that he is supposed to be presiding over the Senate on Capitol Hill. Devereaux has initiated an international scandal by claiming French heritage, with the assistance of the French Ambassador, and impeachment proceedings against Wintergreen for having neglected his rightful duty in the first place are underway. But Mary announces that she is pregnant, so the impeachment is shelved with the Senate asserting that fatherhood is as American as motherhood and corn muffins, or apple pie as the case may be. Various topsy turvy shenanigans are resolved when the Wintergreens produce twins and it is decided that the vice president, who assumes the president's functions when he is unable to, should get the beauty queen for himself.
I’ve Got a Little Twist
It’s where The Mikado meets The Music Man. Where the HMS Pinafore sets sail for Brigadoon. Where The Pirates of Penzance take shore leave On the Town. It’s I’ve Got a Little Twist—a one-of-a-kind show that proves the Gilbert & Sullivan repertoire is as fun, fresh, and full-of-life as, well, three little maids from school! See for yourself as New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players celebrates the legacy of Gilbert & Sullivan in American musical theater, featuring favorites from Rodgers & Hammerstein, Bernstein, Sondheim, Lerner & Loewe, Meredith Willson, and Jerry Herman. Life is a cabaret and so is this show—and as we all know, it’s always more entertaining when you add a little twist.