Dramatical, Theatrical, and Highly Emphatical

grand duke

The title of this post pays tribute to the whimsical and often completely nonsensical lyrics of Gilbert and Sullivan, that famed duo credited with the creation of 14 operettas. Tonight begins closing weekend for my first operetta experience, The Grand Duke, which is the last in the G&S canon and undoubtedly one of the most ridiculous.

With this production, The Savoyaires mark their 50th anniversary of bringing G&S to Chicago’s North Shore. (They were also the first American group to complete the G&S canon in 1980.) With direction by Terry McCabe, music direction by Timothy Semanik, and choreography by Todd Rhoades, this experience has been quite smooth, with the main challenges arising from navigating a rather complicated plot (fake duels fought with playing cards, a sequence of tearfully abandoned fiancés, and plenty of champagne imbibed throughout the whole messy affair).

As a featured member of this chaotic. eclectic ensemble, my character (Martha) did not require the learning of solo songs, but did demand knowing extensive chorus parts interspersed throughout the score. I would hazard that the ensemble is onstage for 70% of the show, which involves a great deal of crowd interaction and active engagement in scenes, but not scene-stealing (perhaps with the exception of a few planned moments). This balance of engagement can be difficult to maintain for an extended period of time, and this experience has been beneficial in brushing up that aspect of my stagecraft.

I have also appreciated the experience to explore more of a classical vocal sound, as my recent experiences have primarily been of the bright musical theater variety. It’s always a good challenge to explore less-familiar genres and expand that repertoire!  Even better, I’ve met wonderful cast mates with impressive technical backgrounds and great personalities, inspiring me to continue improving and giving.

Press Coverage of The Grand Duke:

Splash Magazine

Pioneer Press

Evanston Now

Evanston RoundTable


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