Gilbert and Sullivan’s first collaboration, “Thespis” was for years considered lost because while the dialog was known, the music has not been found. However, thanks to a skillful reconstruction by opera designer Anthony Baker and conductor/composer Timothy Henty, a truly entertaining version of Thespis has been created.
Troupers will present the Northeastern Premiere of this Thespis on November 5th and 6th in Norwalk, CT at All Saints School at 139 West Rocks Rd. The 20 member cast, under the direction of Marian Shulman and Jim Cooper will present the full comic operetta as created by Gilbert and Sullivan as a special Christmas entertainment for the company of London’s Gaiety Theater.
Troupers has been performing Gilbert and Sullivan in Fairfield County for 72 years and is delighted to premiere this Baker-Henty version of Thespis to Northeast US audiences. Each year Troupers welcomes new members to our company: this year we are delighted to welcome soprano leads Anne Collin and Jennifer Wallace. New members are always welcome!
In the ridiculous story, the gods on Olympus have become old and tired (except Mercury) and would like a vacation. They happen on a theater company picnicking on the side of the mountain and quickly reach an agreement that the actors will play the parts of the gods fo a year, while they go down to Earth. Of course, this doesn’t work very well, as Mercury sings “Olympus is in a terrible muddle” in the second act.
The famous chorus number “Climbing Over Rocky Mountain” first appeared in Thespis, and it was so successful that Sullivan reused it in “Pirates of Penzance.” Some musicians believe that a lot more of the music from Pirates originated in Thespis, and Baker and Henty have included several references to Pirates in their reconstruction, as well as using music from several other familiar and less familiar Sullivan works. You will also hear a bit of Offenbach in Thespis, because early reviews suggested that Sullivan had borrowed some, perhaps as a jest.
The Troupers cast of Thespis stars Brett Kroeger as Mercury and Greg Suss as Thespis along with Anne Collin as Nicemis and David Richy as Sparkeion. Rounding out the gods: Bob Scrofani plays Jupiter, Wendy Falconer is seen as Diana, John Matilaine as Apollo, and Rob Strom plays Mars.
Among the mortals, Deborah Connelly plays the flirt Daphne, and Jennifer Wallace plays Pretteia. Other cast members include Ty Goff playing Sillimon, the stage manager, John Hoover as Timidon, Guy Stretton as Tipseion and Tammy Strom as Cymon, or Father Time. Also appearing will be Rebecca Kovacs, Rosa Parrotta, Ruth-Anne Ring, Bill Abbott, and Neil Flores. The accompanist will be Troupers 35-year veteran, Dorothy Kolinsky.
Tickets are available on Troupers’ web site: TroupersLightOpera.org. Don’t miss a chance to see this rarely performed gem!