savoyaires-grand-duke-juliaernest

The Savoyaires, Evanston’s Gilbert & Sullivan troupe, presents its 50th annual production this month, performing the last, least-performed, and topsy-turviest of the 14 G&S operettas — The Grand Duke.

The production is directed byJeff-winning stage director Terry McCabe, the artistic director of Chicago’s City Lit Theater, who previously staged the Savoyaires’ productions of Thespis (2004) and Princess Ida (2007).

Music director is Timothy Semanik, conductor of the Salt Creek Chamber Orchestra and the Bradley University Orchestra returns for his seventh consecutive Savoyaires production.

Choreographer Todd Rhoades recently choreographed Chicago Folks Operetta’s Ball at the Savoy, Paramount Theatre’s The Music Man, and Light Opera Works’ Camelot as well as the Savoyaires’ 2013 Mikado.

The Princess of Monte Carlo (Margaret Jarvis) and her father, the Prince of Monte Carlo (Noel Taylor), demonstrate his new invention — roulette.

Jeff-nominated scenic designer Grant Sabin’s designs have been seen at Steppenwolf, Victory Gardens, Next, the Royal George, American Blues, and numerous other Chicago theaters in addition to the Savoyaires’ 2012 Patience.

Jeff-winning costume designer Tom Kieffer has designed for such companies as Writers Theater, Peninsula Players, and City Lit as well as the Savoyaires’ 2003 H.M.S. Pinafore.

Lighting designer Tom Rusnak returns for his sixth show with the company, and producer Laima Day returns for her 14th consecutive Savoyaires production.

In The Grand Duke, as a theatrical troupe plots to overthrow the miserly title character, the troupe’s lead comedian acquires three new wives in succession, and duels are fought by drawing cards from a deck–leaving the losers legally dead but very much alive.

Ludwig (Daniel Berry) draws an ace to beat the king drawn by Grand Duke Rudolph (Kingsley Day) as they fight a statutory duel by drawing cards from a deck held by the Notary (David Craven).

This production’s specially edited version of the show, based on a new edition by Marc Shepherd, promises to reveal this rarely produced work as a neglected gem, full of absurd Gilbert humor and sparkling Sullivan music.

Performances will be held at the Chute Middle School Auditorium, 1400 Oakton St. in Evanston, on at 7:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, Oct. 10, 11, 17 and 18 and at 3 p.m. on Sundays, Oct. 12 and 19.

Tickets prices range from $10 to $25 and may be purchased by phone at 847-563-0155, online  or by mail from Savoyaires, P.O. Box 126, Evanston, IL 60204.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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