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Book, Music and Lyrics by Ian Taylor, using songs by Gilbert and Sullivan

First produced at the Bristol Old Vic, 1975: Transferred to the Westminster and Phoenix Theatres, London

The play tells the story of the famous Gilbert and Sullivan partnership: the meeting, the association with D'Oyly Carte, the mounting success, the divergencies of temperament and conflicting ambitions, Gilbert's obsession with his "lozenge" story and the trouble it caused,

Sullivan's lavish social life and its disruptive consequences, his ill health, the famous tragi-comic quarrel over a new carpet for the theatre - these and many other episodes are covered.

Musical excerpts from the well-known operas are threaded into the story. The entire cast, including Carte, Gilbert and Sullivan, participate in these interludes, singing the various parts, and they also take on numerous supernumerary characters such as critics, friends, acquaintances etc. The setting is an open stage, with small areas for Gilbert's study, Carte's office and Sullivan's conducting podium. The excerpts from the operas can be staged simply or elaborately, as facilities allow. Period: late nineteenth century.


Joe: a stage hand.
Richard D'Oyly Carte.
Jessie Bond.
Geraldine Almar.
Sybil Grey.
Sir Arthur Sullivan.
George Grossmith.
W. S. Gilbert.
Three stage hands.

All characters age through the play and also appear in other small parts.

The Scenes



Orchestral parts are not available for this play