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NY Gilbert and Sullivan Players Present UTOPIA, LIMITED, 11/21

Gilbert & Sullivan repertory ensemble, the New YorK Gilbert & Sullivan Players (NYGASP), announced that their new fall, winter and spring season will kick off with a production of UTOPIA, LIMITED on Sunday, November 21st (5PM) at Peter Norton Symphony Space (2535 Broadway at 95th Street).

Its 36th annual season is spread throughout the year as an alternative to its annual January program at New York's City Center, due to City Center's planned winter construction and renovations. The schedule will also include Sunday afternoon presentations of: THE YEOMEN OF THE GUARD (December 5th), TRIAL BY JURY with the revue G&S a la Carte (March 20th) and a special G&S Sing-Along - a NYGASP first-(May 22nd) as well as a week-long engagement of The MIKADO (December 29-January 2nd which includes a gala New Year's Eve performance). All performances will feature the full score and dialogue with NYGASP's cast and orchestra, ranging from partially staged productions (UTOPIA, LIMITED; THE YEOMEN OF THE GUARD) to full productions (THE MIKADO; TRIAL BY JURY) and the unique G&S Sing-Along.

Under the artistic and music direction of Albert Bergeret, the company has 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."

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. 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 YEOMEN OF THE GUARD, or THE MERRYMAN AND HIS WIFE 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 MIKADO or THE TOWN OF TITIPU, is set in 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." A timeless story still as fresh as "The flowers that bloom in the spring".

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.

G&S à la Carte is an original revue developed by NYGASP to showcase its many talented artists and the incredible range of work by the incomparable team of Gilbert & Sullivan. From their most popular tongue-twisting "patter songs" to their dramatic double choruses and their pyrotechnics of vocal virtuosity ----this revue is a new found favorite of seasoned G&S devotees as well as new fans of the legendary team! Written to play as a follow up to the one act Trial by Jury, the cast from the opening night of this first G&S success in 1875 is invited to a party by producer Richard D'Oyly Carte where material from the G&S canon not yet created at the time is performed - in typical Gilbertian topsy-turvy fashion. When audience member and G&S fan Walter interrupts the proceedings to point out these historical inaccuracies, his intrusions are not welcomed by the illustrious collaborators and their associates on stage, until Walter demonstrates his own prowess at performing the G&S canon.

G&S Sing-Along is an opportunity for G&S lovers to join the NYGASP cast and orchestra in singing and celebrating the most familiar and memorable songs and choruses from the G&S repertory - all under the witty supervision of Artistic Director/Conductor Albert Bergeret. Audience members are invited to bring their own scores, purchase a compilation of the numbers to be presented at the performance, or just read the lyrics printed in the program.

Performance times are as follows: Utopia - Sunday, November 21st - 5PM; The Yeomen of the Guard - Sunday, December 5th - 5PM; The Mikado - Wednesday, December 29th - 3PM; Thursday, December 30th - 8PM; Friday, December 31st - 7PM (ticket price for this performance includes complimentary champagne toast!); Saturday, January 1st - 3PM; Sunday, January 2nd - 3PM; Trial By Jury with G&S a la Carte - March 20th - 5pm; G&S Sing-Along - May 22nd - 5pm

Gilbert & Sullivan tickets are generally priced from $80 to $60, with half price tickets for children 12 and under. More detailed pricing information will be available closer to performances dates. Information and tickets can be obtained by phoning (212) 864-5400 or by visiting www.nygasp.org.


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