Fall 1999: The Sorcerer


Gilbert & Sullivan have entered that realm of classics where admiration and re-examination can bring a show new life without barely having to change a word. Like Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet can be a modern movie about gangs or MacBeth can be created in a post-apocolyptic setting, G&S can be just as valid in other settings. Other G&S companies have taken Iolanthe to a Robin Hood period, Princess Ida to a Doctor Zhivago Russian winter, Trial By Jury to the Wild West (and even as the third act with Josephine suing Ralph for breach of marriage contract while Sir Joseph presides on the decks of the H.M.S. Pinafore), and even OMP's own production of Patience set in a Greenwich Village beatnik Coffee-House.

The Sorcerer is ideal for a resetting, because unlike most of the G&S canon, political satire and timely references are at a minimum. The show is more plot-oriented than joke-oriented. And yet, many would claim that the plot is lacking. But that fact makes changing the setting easier. As nothing more than a look at romance, it could be reimagined more naturally and easier than, say, The Mikado in Scotland, H.M.S. Pinafore in Africa, The Gondoliers in outer space, or The Pirates of Penzance in 1920's Chicago.

There is, perhaps, one character that does not translate well into different settings. Dr. Daly, the village vicar, is the only religious figure in the whole G&S canon. Perhaps Gilbert felt uneasy or found it difficult to poke fun at people of religion. This being their first major operetta, the religious character never appeared in later works, where other types of characters would appear over and over — the learned judge or monarch for example. So trying to find a suitable translation for a religious person who wants to marry is a quandary. But since most of the characters are superficial people (what else in Gilbert & Sullivan?), our Daly is as superficial as any one else, and not meant to be taken seriously.

So, with all this superficiality, is there a point to the opera? Many scholars have noted that Alexis should not be the one who triumphs at the end — where as Wells, the innocent, should. Where is the moral in that? And what kind of society would shun Sir Marmaduke's courting the lowly Mrs. Partlet, but would accept the coupling of the beyond-middle-aged Daly and the 17-year-old Constance? But if we hope that Alexis learns his lesson, that love between any two people should be celebrated, not judged or tampered with, then perhaps individually, we can learn that lesson as well.

"Happy Are We"

*The standard version of The Sorcerer is not the original. When Richard D'Oyly Carte revived the production in 1884 while waiting for Gilbert and Sullivan to create new operas, the two took the opportunity to rewrite some sections. The original 1877 version, among other minor differences, had the characters dancing through the end of Act 1, wildly spinning to the effect of the philtre. And sometime during the intermission, the spell took effect, the characters fell asleep, woke up, and set sight upon their new loves. This song began the second act.

Another significant change was that the potion now worked in twelve hours, not in half-an-hour. Some necessary dialogue changes have never been reflected in the official score; the most obvious plot problem being Aline not being effected the same as the others at the end of Act 1. This song and the structure of the second scene have been inserted to reflect the potion's effect on Aline, and to give the chorus another fun number.

Director: Jad Jordan
Assistant Director: Laurel Schneiderman
Music Director: Joel Hume
Assistant Music Directors: Jim Blake, Robert Blake
Producer: Amanda Lobaugh


Alexis Pointdextre
Ron Herman
Aline Sangazure
Beth Holliday
Dr. Daly (Vicar of Poverleigh)
Joel Hume
Judit Fulop-Blackburn
Sir Marmaduke Pointdextre
Ted Benedict
Lady Sangazure
Pamela Good
Tracy Burdick
Mrs. Partlet
Julia Ferreira
John Wellington Wells
Brian Smith
Hercules, Mr. Wells' Page
Lilah Crews-Pless
Little Boy
Daniel Schneiderman


Terry Badger, Josette Battisti, Stuart Beck, Terry Benedict, Lynette Blake, Lilah Crews-Pless, Vesna Georgiev, Donald Green, Stephen Gullo, David Holliday, Jordu Kelly-Sutliff, Amanda Lobaugh, Kathy Moore, Wade Richards, Sean Taylor, Dorothy Wind


House Manager
Patti Anne Montrois
Set Designers
Lynette Blake, Alex Carlo, Kathy Moore
Set Construction
Tracy Burdick, Kathy Moore
Costume Managers
Maryanne Lettis, Tracy Paradis, Naomi Pless
Lighting Designer
Michele Denber
Program Design
Alex Carlo

View The Sorcerer Photos on Flickr

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