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  #1  
Old 10-20-2011, 03:30 PM
Roderick Femm Roderick Femm is offline
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A G&S Abomination - HMS Pinafore by the Guthrie Theater

I saw maybe 15 minutes worth of this mess, which was broadcast a few days ago on some PBS channel.

It was awful. The first clue was in the opening credits, when it said "additional material by" someone I never heard of. I thought "Oh, they had someone update some of the dated references in the dialog or lyrics; I wonder how well they did it."

But no. The additional material is some horrible completely out of place music.

The casting was marginal. Of the characters that I saw (the opening chorus of sailors, Little Buttercup, and the Captain) none of them could really sing the way the roles demand. The chorus were hired to dance much more than to sing, and although I enjoyed looking at their tight bottoms in the tight sailor suits, that's not really why I tuned in. Buttercup and the Captain were clearly actors who could (more or less) carry a tune. Unfortunately, this music calls for a nearly-operatic quality of singing. The way they did it was more like braying.

The directing was ridiculous and the acting was sub-par. Buttercup was played with a supposed Cockney accent that was 'orribly done; the Captain was played as some kind of frantic floppy buffoon, for no discernible reason. That's all I managed to get through.

But the music, oh, have mercy. In the opening chorus they deleted huge amounts of Sullivan's music and substituted this moany, groany, pointless non-music that just made no sense. The musical pace of the whole thing was slowed way down, too.

tl;dr - this is painfully bad, don't bother to watch it if you have any liking for Gilbert and Sullivan at all.


Roddy
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  #2  
Old 10-20-2011, 03:40 PM
h.sapiens h.sapiens is offline
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I recorded it, but haven't had a chance to watch it yet. I guess I won't have to now. Thanks for the warning.
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  #3  
Old 10-20-2011, 03:43 PM
Bryan Ekers Bryan Ekers is offline
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Originally Posted by Roderick Femm View Post
The first clue was in the opening credits, when it said "additional material by" someone I never heard of.
Sam Taylor?
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  #4  
Old 10-20-2011, 04:11 PM
Roderick Femm Roderick Femm is offline
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Originally Posted by Bryan Ekers View Post
Sam Taylor?
Don't remember. Don't wanna remember. Whoever it was has a lot of gall to think he can make musical improvements on Sullivan.


Roddy
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  #5  
Old 10-20-2011, 04:12 PM
Roderick Femm Roderick Femm is offline
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Originally Posted by h.sapiens View Post
I recorded it, but haven't had a chance to watch it yet. I guess I won't have to now. Thanks for the warning.
Well, feel free to judge for yourself but if you are familiar with and like G&S, I predict you won't last five minutes.


Roddy
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  #6  
Old 10-20-2011, 04:56 PM
Cunctator Cunctator is offline
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Originally Posted by Roderick Femm View Post
Of the characters that I saw (the opening chorus of sailors, Little Buttercup, and the Captain) none of them could really sing the way the roles demand.
This is why I so dislike most of the "updated" G&S versions nowadays. The producers completely ignore the fact that the core of a G&S is the music. Most of the solo roles require competent, trained singers, and some of them need extremely talented singers (Mabel in Penzance is an example that springs to mind).
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  #7  
Old 10-20-2011, 05:37 PM
Attack from the 3rd dimension Attack from the 3rd dimension is offline
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The first tip-off would see to be "infused with fresh musical arrangements ranging from big band swing to classic pop ".
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  #8  
Old 10-20-2011, 05:37 PM
Allthegood Allthegood is offline
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If you turned it off after 15 minutes, you missed the TAP NUMBER(!!!!!) and also the arrival of Queen Victoria and her reunion with her former lover, Dick Deadeye (which many of you will realize was NOT a part of the original script -- the queen's procession music was taken from G&S's Iolanthe).

*BOGGLE*

The members of my G&S opera company were uniformly appalled by the entire proceedings, but most especially by the liberties taken with the brilliant music of Sir Arthur Sullivan. I have to admit that the tap number was very well done, and that perhaps Gibert & Sullivan might have included such a thing were they writing today, but the rest of the "liberties" taken were cringe-inducing.

All I can say in support of it is that the production values were excellent and the cast are very good dancers and quite amusing actors.
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  #9  
Old 10-20-2011, 05:40 PM
jayjay jayjay is online now
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Sometimes even the Guthrie throws a shoe. That is disappointing to hear, though.
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  #10  
Old 10-20-2011, 05:41 PM
Eve Eve is offline
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Yeah, the NY Times review suggested Mob Wives or a Karsashian marathon would be preferable.
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  #11  
Old 10-20-2011, 07:04 PM
appleciders appleciders is offline
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I wonder if anyone else here saw the Oregon Shakespeare Festival's production of The Pirates of Penzance this summer. They also worked in different styles of music, but mostly just dipped into another style for a single chorus or half a verse, or floated a recognizable lick such as When I'm Sixty-Four as Mabel considers waiting for Frederick. It helped that the cast could handle the music, too.
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  #12  
Old 10-21-2011, 02:56 AM
panache45 panache45 is offline
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I lived on Long Island for a few years, and attended a performance of Der Yiddisher Mikado (yes, performed entirely in Yiddish). I can't believe that the OP's performance was worse.

Link.

Last edited by panache45; 10-21-2011 at 02:57 AM..
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  #13  
Old 10-21-2011, 07:38 AM
Sigmagirl Sigmagirl is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bryan Ekers View Post
Sam Taylor?
I see what you did there.

We watched less than five minutes of it before giving up. The music and orchestration was horrible. It was like Gilbert and Sullivan's Xanadu.
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  #14  
Old 10-21-2011, 07:54 AM
TV time TV time is offline
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A couple of weeks ago I was with a young friend trying to explain the fun of a G&S show. He was unfamiliar with them, but he was open minded and said he was willing to watch and like if it were enjoyable. When I heard that PBS was going to put on Pinafore, I called him and told him to watch it and have a good time...He now thinks I am totally insane if I could think of anything like that as enjoyable.

During my 15 or so minutes of my trying to watch the program, a loud semi truck rumbled past my house...I was certain it was Gilbert and Sullivan rolling over in their graves.
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  #15  
Old 10-21-2011, 10:11 AM
tdn tdn is offline
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Originally Posted by Attack from the 3rd dimension View Post
The first tip-off would see to be "infused with fresh musical arrangements ranging from big band swing to classic pop ".
That's just horrifying.
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  #16  
Old 10-21-2011, 10:21 AM
drastic_quench drastic_quench is offline
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My entire knowledge of G&S is comprised of Sideshow Bob and 20 seconds of the Kevin Kline pirate movie that used to always be on cable in the 80s.

I sense the Guthrie's production might not be the best starting point.
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  #17  
Old 10-21-2011, 10:29 AM
Le Ministre de l'au-delà Le Ministre de l'au-delà is offline
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Watch the trailer for as long as I could stand it. A production like this is the precise reason the D'Oyly Carte company sat on the rights for as long as they could. This is not Gilbert and Sullivan, this is whatshisname and the other guy's derivative crap, the only worthwhile parts of which were stolen from G&S.
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  #18  
Old 10-21-2011, 11:28 AM
Bridget Burke Bridget Burke is offline
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Originally Posted by drastic_quench View Post
My entire knowledge of G&S is comprised of Sideshow Bob and 20 seconds of the Kevin Kline pirate movie that used to always be on cable in the 80s.

I sense the Guthrie's production might not be the best starting point.
Kevin Kline was The Pirate King in Pirates of Penzance; Linda Ronstadt was the female lead. (She does have a very fine voice.) A few liberties were taken but I like that version a lot....

Reviews are in for the "new" Pinafore. I think I'll pass.

My first G&S was The Mikado--a TV special with Groucho Marx playing The Lord High Executioner. It was cut for time & other liberties were taken but it was a great introduction. In preparation, our music teacher taught us some of the songs.

It's sad to lose any of the music but criminal to replace it with something else. Sullivan supplied the lovely tunes & Gilbert the silliness; the combination still works. (Why, yes, I love Topsy Turvy!)
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  #19  
Old 10-21-2011, 11:42 AM
Jackmannii Jackmannii is offline
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If the standard G&S works are considered old hat in need of modernization, maybe the problem is that hardly anyone seems to perform works other than The Mikado and H.M.S. Pinafore. How many times must they put on just these two? There are other deserving operas by G&S that I'd like to see, but they are never staged, at least not in my area.

Iolanthe? The Yeoman of the Guard? Totally overlooked.
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  #20  
Old 10-21-2011, 11:51 AM
gaffa gaffa is offline
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Originally Posted by Jackmannii View Post
If the standard G&S works are considered old hat in need of modernization, maybe the problem is that hardly anyone seems to perform works other than The Mikado and H.M.S. Pinafore. How many times must they put on just these two? There are other deserving operas by G&S that I'd like to see, but they are never staged, at least not in my area.

Iolanthe? The Yeoman of the Guard? Totally overlooked.
The University of Chicago produced Iolanthe a few years back. My wife and I saw and enjoyed it.
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  #21  
Old 10-21-2011, 11:55 AM
gaffa gaffa is offline
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Originally Posted by Bridget Burke View Post
Kevin Kline was The Pirate King in Pirates of Penzance; Linda Ronstadt was the female lead. (She does have a very fine voice.) A few liberties were taken but I like that version a lot....
It suffers most from the cheesy synth score, but I figured it was too low budget to hire a real orchestra.

Quote:
My first G&S was The Mikado--a TV special with Groucho Marx playing The Lord High Executioner. It was cut for time & other liberties were taken but it was a great introduction. In preparation, our music teacher taught us some of the songs.
Oh, that sounds FUN!

Quote:
It's sad to lose any of the music but criminal to replace it with something else. Sullivan supplied the lovely tunes & Gilbert the silliness; the combination still works. (Why, yes, I love Topsy Turvy!)
Why, oh why didn't they film a complete performance of The Mikado? They had an excellent cast, they were in the original theater...

What a loss.
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  #22  
Old 10-21-2011, 12:12 PM
Le Ministre de l'au-delà Le Ministre de l'au-delà is offline
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Seconded - it would have made such a good companion piece to Topsy-Turvy!
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  #23  
Old 10-21-2011, 12:27 PM
robert_columbia robert_columbia is online now
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Originally Posted by Jackmannii View Post
If the standard G&S works are considered old hat in need of modernization, maybe the problem is that hardly anyone seems to perform works other than The Mikado and H.M.S. Pinafore. How many times must they put on just these two? There are other deserving operas by G&S that I'd like to see, but they are never staged, at least not in my area...
What, NEVER?
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  #24  
Old 10-21-2011, 12:34 PM
tdn tdn is offline
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What, NEVER?
Well, hardly ever.

The groups that I've worked with try to do rotations through all of the shows, but the popular ones still get more play. I'm a total Yeoman freak, though.
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  #25  
Old 10-21-2011, 12:41 PM
The Lurker Above The Lurker Above is offline
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Originally Posted by Jackmannii View Post
If the standard G&S works are considered old hat in need of modernization, maybe the problem is that hardly anyone seems to perform works other than The Mikado and H.M.S. Pinafore. How many times must they put on just these two? There are other deserving operas by G&S that I'd like to see, but they are never staged, at least not in my area.

Iolanthe? The Yeoman of the Guard? Totally overlooked.
Are you me?

Don't get me wrong, I love The Mikado and H.M.S. Pinafore, but I just can't work up the enthusiasm to go see them in yet another production.

I did jump at the chance to see my cousin in The Gondoliers a few years ago even though it was a four hour trip. I would definitely go to any non-Mikado/Pinafore G&S production within a few hours drive, if anyone would actually put one on.

As an aside, can anyone recommend a good recording of The Sorcerer? It's pretty much the only G&S work I don't have at least one version of.
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  #26  
Old 10-21-2011, 01:21 PM
gaffa gaffa is offline
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It really seems to be an east coast thing in the US. Chicago has two groups that produce one show a year.
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  #27  
Old 10-21-2011, 01:26 PM
Bridget Burke Bridget Burke is offline
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I have, alas, not availed myself of Houston's Gilbert & Sullivan society.

Next summer: Iolanthe.
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  #28  
Old 10-21-2011, 02:02 PM
suranyi suranyi is offline
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In the Bay Area we have the Lamplighters who typically do two shows a year, mostly G&S. They have done both the famous ones and the more obscure ones. I've seen both Iolanthe and Yeoman. Looks like they're doing Gondoliers in January.

Last edited by suranyi; 10-21-2011 at 02:03 PM..
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  #29  
Old 10-21-2011, 04:55 PM
Daylate Daylate is offline
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Let me chime in here. Anybody trying to "improve" on a G&S opera is an abomination before the Lord.

I saw that Guthrie production, too, and stick it out hoping in vain that it would get better. If anyone saw that who has never before seen G&S, they will come awas with a very poor opinion of their work.

Hughly disappointing.
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  #30  
Old 10-21-2011, 05:24 PM
araminty araminty is online now
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Yeah, I made MaxTheVool turn it off when I heard the atrocious accents. Why are Americans so bad at sounding English? Aussies can do it!
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  #31  
Old 10-21-2011, 06:39 PM
Eve Eve is offline
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There was a big stink on Broadway this season about an "improved" version of Gershwin's Porgy and Bess, too. I don't recall exactly what the changes were, but I think they involved Porgy joining the Roller Disco.
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  #32  
Old 10-21-2011, 06:42 PM
jayjay jayjay is online now
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There was a big stink on Broadway this season about an "improved" version of Gershwin's Porgy and Bess, too. I don't recall exactly what the changes were, but I think they involved Porgy joining the Roller Disco.
Porgy Express?
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  #33  
Old 10-21-2011, 06:53 PM
Bryan Ekers Bryan Ekers is offline
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Jammertime, and the Living is Easy ?
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  #34  
Old 10-21-2011, 08:20 PM
Sampiro Sampiro is online now
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It's reset from a black tenement in Depression era Charleston to a middle class retirement community in Palm Beach where instead of a beggar on a cart Milton "Poor Guy" Saperstein has a disability check and a mobility scooter and takes in Bess, a pregnant sorority girl who stays behind on spring break. James Earl Jones and Brenda Song are attached.

Actually, the recent version and several others have changed some of the musical numbers to spoken (more like a musical than an opera) and toned down the dialect (that/this/I'm for dat/dist/I'se). Mixed reviews.
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  #35  
Old 10-21-2011, 09:01 PM
lawoot lawoot is offline
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Iolanthe? The Yeoman of the Guard? Totally overlooked.
My college music department has done both The Gondoliers and Iolanthe. As the Scenic Designer for the theater, I designed both shows.
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  #36  
Old 10-21-2011, 11:17 PM
Roderick Femm Roderick Femm is offline
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Originally Posted by suranyi View Post
In the Bay Area we have the Lamplighters who typically do two shows a year, mostly G&S. They have done both the famous ones and the more obscure ones. I've seen both Iolanthe and Yeoman. Looks like they're doing Gondoliers in January.
Yes, we do, and I'm going to have to start supporting them more than I have. Maybe we could find a couple of others and have a Dopers' night out?


Roddy
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  #37  
Old 10-22-2011, 02:34 PM
Jackmannii Jackmannii is offline
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Originally Posted by suranyi View Post
In the Bay Area we have the Lamplighters who typically do two shows a year, mostly G&S. They have done both the famous ones and the more obscure ones. I've seen both Iolanthe and Yeoman. Looks like they're doing Gondoliers in January.
Must be nice.

Our one G&S performance scheduled for 2012 is The Mikado, in conjunction with the N.Y. Gilbert & Sullivan Players. Let's see, their upcoming performances at various venues are of:

The Mikado
The Pirates of Penzance
H.M.S. Pinafore
The Pirates of Penzance
The Mikado


I sense a rut.
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  #38  
Old 10-22-2011, 03:46 PM
gaffa gaffa is offline
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Both of my nieces are sopranos, and either of them could have done a wonderful job in any of those roles, but for some stupid reason the school's director insisted on wasting their scarce resources on buying the rights to musicals and plays still in copyright.
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  #39  
Old 10-22-2011, 04:22 PM
Hershele Ostropoler Hershele Ostropoler is offline
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It was better than any other televised production of G&S on in this market at the time it aired.
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  #40  
Old 10-22-2011, 04:38 PM
Inner Stickler Inner Stickler is online now
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The directing was ridiculous
I very quickly grew tired of Joe Dowling's directorial slant. Maybe he was great back in the day but now he just makes me sad. And the additional materials guy is Jeffrey Hatcher.
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  #41  
Old 10-22-2011, 04:40 PM
amarinth amarinth is online now
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Originally Posted by Jackmannii View Post
If the standard G&S works are considered old hat in need of modernization, maybe the problem is that hardly anyone seems to perform works other than The Mikado and H.M.S. Pinafore. How many times must they put on just these two? There are other deserving operas by G&S that I'd like to see, but they are never staged, at least not in my area.
Try universities (if you're near one). My college had a G&S society, and I'm pretty sure they weren't the only one in the area. They do Mikado, Pirates, and Pinafore a little more often than the others, but they seem to cycle through the rest.
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  #42  
Old 10-22-2011, 04:49 PM
Eonwe Eonwe is offline
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Porgy Express?
Hah!!!


I will say that I love Hot Mikado, a jazzy update from the mid 80s that remains (in my opinion) wonderfully faithful to the original music while completely re-orchestrating it.
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  #43  
Old 10-22-2011, 05:02 PM
jayjay jayjay is online now
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Thank god someone got it...
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  #44  
Old 10-22-2011, 07:18 PM
FeAudrey FeAudrey is offline
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... can anyone recommend a good recording of The Sorcerer?
There may be better versions, but the most widely available seems to be the one from the "Complete Gilbert & Sullivan" that the BBC and PBS did two or three decades back:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0184910/

(with Clive Revill as John Wellington Wells)


Agree that the Guthrie "Pinafore" was ... strange. I will pass by the interpolated Victoria to concentrate on the broad readings given Captain Corcoran and Sir Joseph -- much funnier when played straight.

I thought that the singing was actually pretty good, given the way the score had been hacked.
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  #45  
Old 10-22-2011, 07:46 PM
gaffa gaffa is offline
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I feel like asking anyone who would presume to replace Sullivan's songs "So, you've been knighted for your music too?"
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Old 10-22-2011, 07:48 PM
jayjay jayjay is online now
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I feel like asking anyone who would presume to replace Sullivan's songs "So, you've been knighted for your music too?"
Seriously. I mean, I've written parodies of "Modern Major-General" (who hasn't?), but I'd never try to replace the real thing with my doggerel.
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  #47  
Old 10-22-2011, 10:53 PM
Bricker Bricker is online now
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Porgy Express?
I am so jealous that you thought of this line before I did.
__________________
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  #48  
Old 10-22-2011, 11:26 PM
jayjay jayjay is online now
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I am so jealous that you thought of this line before I did.
What could possibly be a better collaboration than Gershwin and Lloyd Webber?
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