Kingsley Day was hooked on Gilbert and Sullivan during his first year in high school and now, after performing in 17 G&S operas with the Evanston-based Savoyaires, he jumped into the role of director for the upcoming performance of “Ruddigore.”

Becoming a director wasn’t Day’s idea. “When I said that 2016 would be my last stage appearance for the Savoyaires,” Day explained, “the board said, ‘Oh good, now you can direct.’”

“It was flattering that the board would think that I had that qualification, but it was not my idea.” He agreed to direct one show so the board could see “whether you thought that was such a great idea or not. So here we are.”

“I had directed before, but it’s been decades,” he said. “As an actor, it’s a cardinal rule that when you’re in a show you don’t give direction to your fellow actors. But that is a cardinal rule I’ve had difficulty not breaking.”

“I have very strong opinions about how Gilbert and Sullivan should go,” he said. “So it is kind of nice that this time around my opinions are the ones that everyone has to pay attention to.”

“I was glad to debut as Savoyaires director with one of the lesser known operas because it’s not as familiar to the audience,” he said.

And, with “Ruddigore,” “there are more decisions a director has to make, in consultation with the music director, about what version of the show you’re doing.”

“Gilbert made quite a few changes almost immediately after the show opened” in 1887, Day explained. “And in 1921 when the D’Oyly Carte company revived it in London, they made a lot of additional cuts.”

“You have to decide what to cut or not to cut. There’s an appendix of additional material you can look at.”

“The last time the Savoyaires did “Ruddigore” 17 years ago, all of the D’Oyly Carte cuts were restored,” Day explained, such as Robin’s second act solo “Away, remorse!” with Sullivan’s music.

“I’ve also restored a few things that Gilbert cut,” he said, based on the book “A Most Ingenious Paradox” by Gayden Wren.

“I think he makes a convincing case that some of Gilbert’s dialog cuts in Act II were too extreme and weakened the focus of the plot,” he said, “so I have selectively put in a few lines here and there.”

Of his 17 performances with the Savoyaires, Day said it’s hard to pick a favorite role, but his least favorite is Scaphio in “Utopia Unlimited.”

“Ruddigore”’s Robin Oakapple is one of the most fun roles, he added, because it’s the only character that is both the romantic lead and the comic patter lead.

Day has also extended his talent to composing. Since most of the music is lost for “Thespis,” the first Gilbert and Sullivan opera, he composed a score for the show for piano back in 1982. In 2016 he converted his piano score to full orchestra. “And if I do say so,” he added, “the music sounds like Sullivan.”

Day grew up in Columbia, Missouri, where he was in the chorus for “H.M.S. Pinafore” and became “hooked for life” on Gilbert & Sullivan.

He earned an undergraduate degree in piano at Lawrence University and a graduate degree in music theory at Eastman School of Music and came to Chicago for theater.

He served as editor of Clavier Magazine and is now a senior editor for publications in the Department of Global Marketing and Communications at Northwestern University.

Day lived in Evanston for over 20 years and now lives in Edgewater.

Related story

Portraits come to live in ‘Ruddigore’ (9/25/2018)

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