The Zoo (Gilbert & Sullivan Society of Austin 2015)

Poster for The Zoo at The Gilbert and Sullivan Society of Austin, 2015
15 Feb 2015

On February 15, we will present The Zoo, with sparkling music by Arthur Sullivan and hilarious libretto by “Bolton Rowe” (B.C. Stephenson). Artistic Director Ralph MacPhail, Jr., will stage this melodic and comedic delight of a show in a production that will also be its Austin premiere. Music Director Jeffrey Jones-Ragona will conduct. The Zoo will be a fully-staged chamber production of the entire opera, with costumes, props, the suggestion of a set, a reduced chorus and grand-piano (and oboe!) accompaniment.

The farcical story centers around deception, mixups, disguise, and surprise.  It was premiered in London in 1875, shortly after Trial by Jury opened, and like The Gilbert and Sullivan opera it is written in one act, running approximately 40 minutes, and contains no spoken dialogue. After its rediscovery in the 1960s, it has entered the repertory of “association works” like Cox and Box.

Hear some of your favorite G&S singers, with Andy Fleming singing Æsculapius Carboy, who’s in love with Laeticia Grinder (Angela Irving). Another romantic pair, Thomas Brown and Eliza Smith, will be played by Bruno Barbosa and Katherine Wiggins. Laeticia’s father, Mr. Grinder, will be sung by Patrick Wright. The chorus, The Great British Public, will include Alix Reilman, Leann Fryer, Lisa Alexander, Janette Jones, Mark Long, Daniel Brookshire, Tim Shelburne, and Jay Young. Musical accompaniment will be by Jeanne Sasaki and Allison Welch. 

The story takes place in London’s famous Zoological gardens, between the bear-pit and a refreshment stall. Wooing in disguise and wooing against parental pressure provide the love interest, and the comic interest is sustained by Sullivan’s musical hits at the conventions of grand opera. All ends “pleasantly,” as forecast early on, but not before a couple of very funny suicide attempts (with music that foreshadows The Mikado!) and a hilarious send-up of public speaking. Since its rediscovery in the 1960s, The Zoo has become a firm favorite with Savoyards, and we’re very pleased to be presenting it in Austin.

Between the two performances there will be a social hour, and guests are invited to bring snacks and treats to share.

Don't miss seeing at least one of these very special performances!

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Suggested donation of $10