Fall 1998: Utopia, Limited


In 1893, the year Utopia, Limited was produced, Princess Kaiulani of the independent monarchy of Hawaii was receiving a "proper" education at a private school in England. She was the talk of the society pages, with much speculation as to the influence English "civilization" would have on the Princess and eventually her homeland.

Thirty years earlier, Anna Leonowens arrived in Siam for a six-year stint as governess to the king's children. She later wrote two popular books and gave lectures about her experiences. (These books would later become the foundation for Rodgers & Hammerstein's The King and I.)

These two ladies (who may have influenced the characters of "Princess Zara" and "Lady Sophy" respectively) plus Gilbert's disdain for England's Limited Liability Act, provided the historical basis for Gilbert & Sullivan's thirteenth comic opera.

Initially, Utopia, Limited was a moderate success, running for 245 performances. George Bernard Shaw thought it was Gilbert and Sullivan's best. But it did not stand the test of time. The quirky plot, large cast, and expensive running costs discouraged revivals. The D'Oyly Carte Opera Company did not revive it until 1975.

Surprisingly, in the United States, where its satire would seem to be less relevant, Utopia, Limited has taken a stronger hold. It became popular starting in the 1960's and is now performed in America almost as often as Ruddigore, The Sorcerer, or Princess Ida.

"Utopia, Limited" means "Utopia, Inc." In England, a limited company is the equivalent to an American corporation. When the king and chorus sing of "the Joint Stock Company's Act of Parliament sixty-two", they are referring to a real law. If a company should go bankrupt, this law established shareholders' limits of liability to the amount of their investments.

Also, you may notice the reference to our own George Eastman's product and slogan in the princess' duet. In 1893, Kodak cameras had only been around for five years; so we have to commend the Utopians for being up-to-date.

Director: Byron Wilmot
Music Director: Hugh Brodsky
Choreography: Ron Herman
Producers: Jad Jordan, Amanda Lobaugh


King Paramount
Brian Smith
Scaphio, a Utopian Judge
Jim Caffrey
Phantis, a Utopian Judge
Tracy Burdick
Tarara, the Public Exploder
David Schafer
Calynx, the Utopian Vice-Chamberlain
David Heed
Bold-Faced Ranger
Dan Mark
Arbor (the Utopia Emissary)
Terry Benedict
Lord Dramaleigh, a British Lord Chamberlain
Jad Jordan
Captain Fitzbattleaxe
Joel Hume
Captain Sir Edward Corcoran, K.C.B.
Bill Hammond
Mr. Goldbury (a Company Promoter)
David Brown
Sir Bailey Barre, Q.C., M.P.
David Heed
Mr. Blushington (of the County Council)
Dan Mark
The Princess Zara
Anne Virgil
The Princess Nekaya
Sarah Zaffora-Reeder
The Princess Kalyba
Barbara A. Dick
The Lady Sophy, English Gouvernante
Beth Holliday
Lynette Blake
Kori Holley


Terry Badger, Stuart Beck, Fran Carlisi-Paxson, Lilah Crews-Pless, Peter Dunbar, Nancy Galletto, Bill Hammond, Isabele Henry, Kathy Holley, Katie Holley, David Holliday, Anna Jablonski, Lynne Jarrell, Amanda Lobaugh, Dan Mark, Wendi Minier, Sam Nelson, David Odgers, Jean Gordon Ryon, Laurel Schneiderman, Marie Sidoti


Rehearsal Pianist: Robert Blake


House Managers
Stephen Gullo, Patti Anne Montrois, Tracy Paradis
Bodie McCaffrey
Set Designer
Kathy Moore
Set Construction
Tracy Burdick, Jim Caffrey
Costume Managers
Maryanne Lettis, Kathy Moore, Naomi Pless, Brian Smith
Lighting Designer
Michele Denber

View Utopia, Limited Photos on Flickr

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