by Simon de Carvalho '14
Gilbert and Sullivan wrote 14 operettas, works of bubbly comedy that have remained popular some 140 years since the first one was penned.
This semester, the Harvard-Radcliffe Gilbert & Sullivan Players, founded in 1956, tackled the duo’s only operetta with a sad ending, The Yeomen of the Guard (1888). The show runs through April 3 at Agassiz Theatre.
Yeoman takes place in the Tower of London and is the story of a love… eh… heptagon—between a condemned prisoner, a powerful dame, an executioner, a prison guard, a prison guard’s daughter, a travelling singer, and this singer’s female sidekick. That’s seven, right?
Though the production itself is something to behold, one of the most exciting aspects of Harvard’s troupe is the community it engenders.
"The G&S community is very tightly nit," notes Eric Padilla ’14, who plays the head prison guards, Sergeant Meryll, in Yeomen.
"The community in the cast and in the organization is highly enjoyable to be a part of," says Danny Erickson ’14, who plays the jester Jack Point. "As a freshman who was not involved in the production last semester, I had the experience of being placed into an entire network of wonderful people who have known each other for the past several years. There are graduate students who have been performing in these shows for the last six years performing alongside people who have never performed in a G&S production."
Padilla, who had never done Gilbert and Sullivan before coming to Harvard but has participated in both Yeomen and last semester’s Ruddigore, describes G&S as simply "a lot of fun."
And this fun certainly shines through both onstage and off. For Erickson, this excitement and levity even came through in my chat with him:
"Anything to add?" I ask at the end of the talk.
"I think you should mention in the piece that Arthur Sullivan could juggle tigers," he answers. "It's not true, but it would be fascinating if it were."
And so G&S at Harvard remains a strong, vibrant community with some interesting characters (again, both onstage and off), founded upon a rich tradition of brilliant theatrical works.
No tigers. But pretty much everything else.