Welcome to the Gilbert & Sullivan Society of Bermuda

Opera

 

Norma (Bellini) 13 January 2018
Merry Widow (Lehár) 3 February 2018
Tosca (Puccini) SUNDAY 4 March 2018
L’Elisir d’Amore (Donizetti) 10 March 2018
La Bohème (Puccini) 24 March 2018
Semiramide (Rossini) 7 April 2018
The Opera House (2 hr. documentary) 14 April 2018
Così fan tutte (Mozart) SUNDAY 22 April 2018
Luisa Miller (Verdi) 19 May 2018
Cendrillon (Massenet) 2 June 2018

 

All operas approx. 3-4 hours long inc. interval, unless noted otherwise

NB: These are NOT being screened live, but are live performances on film

All performances (with English subtitles if not in English) will be at the BUEI auditorium, starting at 5pm on Saturdays (unless noted otherwise).

Harbourfront provides a cash bar for pre-performance and interval drinks, and complimentary hors d’oeuvres served during intermissions.

Tickets available at

- ptix.bm/gands

- BUEI gift shop - in person or call 294 0204 – approx. a week before each event; or

- BUEI/at door on the evening – cash/cheque/card

$40/$35 students. Min. 5 subscription (sole use/$35 per opera) available online, (or with G&S reps on eve/in advance – cash or cheque only)

The documentary tickets are $30/$25 students

Please visit www.metopera.org for synopses and more info.

Additional queries, please contact G&S at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. subject "Met Opera."

The Gilbert & Sullivan Society of Bermuda is proud to announce that its production for 2018 will be “Annie”. The Society’s last production of “Annie” was in 1992 starring Rebecca Faulkenberry as Annie. Rebecca is now a Broadway actress.

 

Set in 1930s New York during The Great Depression, brave young Annie is forced to live a life of misery at Miss Hannigan’s orphanage. Her luck soon changes when she's chosen to spend a fairytale Christmas with famous billionaire, Oliver Warbucks. Meanwhile, spiteful Miss Hannigan has other ideas and hatches a plan to spoil Annie’s search for her true family…

 

With its Tony® award-winning book and score, including the unforgettable songs It’s A Hard-Knock LifeEasy Street and Tomorrow, this is a show not to be missed!

 

 

Gilbert & Sullivan Society and BUEI are excited to announce the next (2017-18) season of ‘The Met: Live in HD’ operas in Bermuda (on film) starting on Saturday, 13 January 2018 with an evocative new production of Bellini’s Norma.  Season continues with:

Merry Widow (Lehar) ‘Encore’ 3 Feb
Tosca (Puccini) (moved from 24 Feb!) SUNDAY 4 Mar
L’Elisir d’Amore (Donizetti) 10 Mar
La Bohème (Puccini) 24 Mar
Semiramide (Rossini) 7 Apr
Così fan tutte (Mozart) 21 Apr
Luisa Miller (Verdi) 19 May
Cendrillon (Massenet) 2 Jun

 

All performances are on Saturday, at the BUEI auditorium, unless noted otherwise, and starting at 5pm.

Harbourfront will provide a cash bar for pre-performance and interval drinks, and complimentary hors d’oeuvres will be served during intermissions.

Look out for further details, but online tickets should be available via gands.bm or from ptix.bm in near future.

Alternatively, they will be on sale (at BUEI gift shop - in person or call 294 0204 – approx. a week before each event) or purchase at door – cash/cheque/card - $40/$35 students or ‘package’(sole person use) of min. five at $35 each.  Please note that subscription can only be purchased online, (or with G&S reps on eve/in advance – with cash or cheque only).

Visit www.metopera.org for more and general info.

Gilbert and Sullivan contact: Anne Smith at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

 Annie

 

The Gilbert & Sullivan Society of Bermuda is proud to announce our cast for our 2018 production - “Annie”.

 

Miss Hannigan - - Jennifer Osmond-Campbell

Oliver Warbucks - - Philip Barnett

Grace Farrell - - Paige Hallett

Annie - - Mya Maries - Red Team

               Natalia Tafur - Blue Team

Molly - - Kendall Burrows - Red Team

              Niyah Burrows - Blue Team

Pepper - - Addy Thorpe - Red Team

                Chloe Samuels - Blue Team

Duffy - - Ava Rosser - Red Team

               Julia Slade - Blue Team

Kate - - Aunika Dzurus - Red Team

             Mila Medeiros - Blue Team

July - - Billie Rose Kempe - Blue Team

             Lola Pimentel-Barker - Red Team

Tessie - - Hannah Taylor - Red Team

                Indigo Adamson - Blue Team

Rooster - - Che Barker

Lily St. Regis - - Jessii Terra

President Roosevelt - - Will Kempe

Ickes; Boylen Sister; ensemble - - Gillian Henderson

Drake; ensemble - - Jon Brunson

Cecille; Boylen sister; ensemble - - Kristin Hickey

Annette; Boylen Sister ensemble - - Jennifer Minors

Mrs. Greer; ensemble - - Kate Kyme

Mrs. Pugh; Frances Perkins; ensemble - - Katrina Kawaley-Lathan

Policeman; Bundles - - Owain Johnston-Barnes

Morgenthau; Judge Brandise; Dog catcher; ensemble - - Derek L.A. Smith

Jimmy Johnson; ensemble - - Benjamin Betschart

Burt Healy; ensemble - - Onuri Smith

Howe; Fred McCracken, ensemble - - Dequan Trott

Sound Effects Man; Dog Catcher; ensemble - Ezequiel Jimenez

Female ensemble - - Rachael Barritt, Hailey Barnett, Emma Mayor, Katie Grainge, Kennedy Durfy

Dance ensemble - - Elena Menedez Sanchez, McKenzie Hassell,  Myah Bridgewater, Nhoaa Powell, Shardae Lee, Zayla Bolin

Star to be; dance ensemble - - Hailey Smith

Male ensemble - - Alex Zuill, Thomas Evans

Orphan ensemble

Blue Team - - Alay Burgess-Rocker, Alejandra Tafur, Amelie Mulder Powell, Ava Pedro, Eva O'Connor,  Gianna Pedro, Hannah Stockley, Harmony Seymour, Heidi Paulos, Isabella Simmons, Isabelle Shelley, Jada Crumpler, Jaydi Burrows, Jolie Victoria Davis, Jualiana Montarsolo, Kiyana Minors, Lore de Kock, Resse Morbey, Violet Smith

Red Team - - Amaiah Jimenez, Amelie Kempe, Annika Henderson, Avery Taylor, Chloe Bennett, Elodie Manning, Eloise Smith, Emma Roberts, Erin Kelly, Fiona Kelly, Katie Adams, Kyla White, Lara Rose Burnet, Lily Butler, Maya DeSilveira, Milahn Powell, Riley Darrell, Robyn Kelly, Zoe Delage

 

 

Congratulations to the cast of ANNIE!

 

TIckets go on sale now.  Go to www.ptix.bm/gands to purchase your seats for Annie.

 

 

 

toto

 

Think your Cairn Terrier has what it takes to light up the stage?

The Gilbert & Sullivan Society is searching for two dogs to play Toto in The Wizard of Oz.

The only requirements are that they’re able to bark on command, and are flea-free.

“We need two in case one gets sick,” said Deborah Smith-Joell, the musical’s producer. “Toto is definitely one of the stars of the show. He is the one that starts all the trouble.”

Toto leads Dorothy into the tornado in the classic tale; the terrier is also responsible for unmasking the wizard as a fraud at the end.

When the successful pooch isn’t barking or leaping into Dorothy’s arms, it will be carried around by her in a basket.

Mrs Smith-Joell was all up for using a fake pup until director Nina French convinced her to go for the real deal.

The producer reluctantly agreed. She’s frightened of dogs and had never used an animal in a performance before. “I jerk when dogs bark,” she said. “I was bitten on the foot when I was a child and needed stitches [but] we want The Wizard of Oz to be as close to the original production as we can.”

The one lead she’s followed so far — a woman and a dog she passed on the street — didn’t get her very far.

“She had a Yorkshire terrier,” said Mrs Smith-Joell. “We might use that breed if we can’t find a Cairn. I said, ‘Does he bark on command?’ She said, ‘No, he just barks.’ I said, ‘Does he jump on command?’ She said, ‘No, he just jumps.’”

Canines are invited to try out at the show’s auditions on June 2 and 4.

The Wizard of Oz will run from October 5 to 14 at the Earl Cameron Theatre.

(Taken from The Royal Gazette - May 10, 2017 - Jessie M Hardy)

 

For more information, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

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Bermuda Sun... Beyond the Headlines

Review / Animal Farm, City Hall Theatre
A wild and wicked portrayal

Sarah Lagan
Writer/Sub-editor

Friday, March 25, 2011

 

Sinister: From left, Animal Farm actors Kalin Williams, Gary Skelton, Rowan Vickers and Michael Cabot. *Photo supplied
 

Director Matt McGowan and his cast and crew made animal magic on stage at City Hall.

They vividly brought to life George Orwell’s timeless classic Animal Farm, mocking Stalin’s Russia and other such despotic regimes.

The story is about a cruel farmer who is overthrown by his own farm animals. They aspire to work together towards improving their standard of living but some become as powerful and corrupt as the humans they sought to overthrow.

Pigs call the shots and the actors who played them were excellent; their animal mannerisms were believable and the costumes simple but effective.

Gary Skelton made his debut on Bermuda’s stage as head pig Napoleon and took full command of the role. Seething and snarling as the sinister dictator, he managed to make you sick to the stomach while also injecting some welcome humour to an otherwise grim setting.

“I’m a practical pig, a pig of few words,” he says in a gritty northern English accent.

Anyone new to the story was soon to learn the extent of the damage these “few words” could do.

Mr. Skelton, by day a photo editor at the Bermuda Sun, has plenty of stage experience, having toured the U.K. and Europe. And it showed; no doubt we will be seeing much more of him in future shows.

Though we gain Mr. Skelton, we lose young Rowan Vickers, who was terrific as Napoleon’s sidekick Squealer.

This marks his last performance in Bermuda before he leaves to study at the prestigious Juilliard School in New York.

His role as Squealer is demanding as, unlike Napoleon, he needs to be liked. It is his job to win support of the farm animals for Napoleon’s evil schemes and he does so by pulling the wool over their eyes (pun intended).

There was electricity on stage between Snowball — played brilliantly by Jenny Burrell (Missing Celia Rose) — and Napoleon.

Mike Jones (History Boys) played the role of Old Major. It’s the kind of character he seems to have attracted since he started acting — commanding, intelligent and loveable.

Emma Keane (The History Boys) played the show horse Mollie so sweetly and managed to sustain her animal mannerisms effectively with a brush of a hoof here, a sideward sweep of the head there.

Barb Outerbridge and Mandy Roberts-Smith have to be commended for the costumes. They avoided the obvious coconut shells for hooves and big furry all-in-one suits, instead keeping things subtle and symbolic.

The sheep dressed in dirty Aran jumpers, the crows wore slightly feathered wigs and best of all, the pigs sported leather snouts with their fingers bound in dirty Band Aids to represent trotters.

The idea to put gas masks with pinscher ears on the guard dogs was ingenious. I understand there were more than a few questions at Customs when these “miscellaneous” items were presented.

I had heard beforehand that songs had been integrated into the play and this made me sceptical. Turning such a timeless classic into a musical would not be to my personal taste, but the production didn’t go as far as that. There were too many songs in the first part of the play but on the whole, they were short and sweet and helped the plot along.

Related Stories:
• Animal Farm characters take a walk on the wild side
• Actor bows out of Bda with Animal Farm


Related Links:

A timely reminder from the G&S Society

‘Animal Farm’, subtitled ‘A Fairy Story’, does not have a happy ending, and the stage adaptation of George Orwell’s classic allegory of the Russian Revolution stays close to the original plot.
Ian Woolridge’s adaptation, directed by Matt McGowan and produced by Jane Vickers of the Gilbert and Sullivan Society, is not the typical production local audiences have come to expect from G&S.
The stars of the show are the three pigs, Snowball, Napoleon and Squealer played by Jenny Burrell, Gary Skelton, and Rowan Vickers respectively and the old Clydesdale, Boxer, whose character was interpreted convincingly by Malachi Simmons.
Snowball’s idealism and bright optimism were conveyed effectively by Burrell, underscored by her higher female voice.
Though Skelton’s Napoleon was powerful and menacing, the impression I had from my reading of the novel was that Napoleon was more slick and calculating, his emphasis on ‘practicality’ laced with irony; and Vickers’ Squealer was more collaborator and less sycophant than I had imagined the character to be.
Simmons in his movements and mannerisms ably conveyed the plodding faithfulness of the loyal draft horse. Emma Keane also did a good job of interpreting the flighty filly, Mollie.
Taking a novel that spans many years and compressing it into two hours is no easy task, and the plot skims along quickly with the help of a narrator, a role shared very ably between Philip Mathias and India Wilson.
That said, the adaptation stays true to the original, and following the initial revolution there are the crises of the Battle of the Cowshed, when Farmer Jones and his allies are driven off the farm, the Battle of the Windmill when the animal’s windmill is destroyed, and the final reconciliation between pigs and men.
Perhaps because of the pace of the plot, there is no time to fully develop emotional peaks and troughs.
The Battle of the Cowshed, for example, is less epic than it seemed in the book, and there is no real sense of elation over the animals’ initial triumph or horror at the fate of the faithful farm horse, Boxer.
Except for Mollie’s solo, sung beautifully by Emma Keane, I’m also not entirely convinced the music adds much to the production.
The sombre themes of this dark tale of broken dreams and Machiavellian manipulation are emphasised by the sepia tones of the set, unrelieved by any colour even in the revolution’s hopeful spring when the farm animals are prospering. The opening scene is particularly powerful as the dark, empty set becomes more and more crowded with unkempt animals.
The minimal set of ladders and scaffolding is flexible, allowing swift set changes, and deftly recreates the farmyard, the heart of the story, where the animals gather to discuss the progress of their revolution.
The anthropomorphic costuming works well, with the possible exception of the dairy cows, though I had thought there might have been further change in the pigs’ attire as their status evolved.
The dogs, in their black uniforms and masks which obscured their individuality, made truly menacing Dobermans.
An interesting and thoughtful interpretation of Orwell’s tale, the G & S’s challenging production is a timely reminder of the human cost of autocracy and the danger of refusing, as Benjamin the donkey does, to stand up and speak out against tyranny and injustice.

'Art imitates life and life imitates art'
By René Hill

Director Matthew McGowan’s love for ‘Animal Farm’ led him to choose the play for the latest Gilbert & Sullivan production.

The play opened last night at City Hall Theatre, and runs until March 26.

George Orwell’s literary magnum opus was reworked for the stage by Sir Peter Hall and with the addition of stirring songs adds to the spellbinding tale.

“I was lucky enough to be involved in a production of the play in 1997 performing the character of Benjamin for Gwent Young Peoples Theatre (GYPT),” Mr McGowan said in a release.

“Being a part of such a successful production of the play encouraged me to pursue acting further and led me to a career in drama that has thankfully grown from my early days in GYPT.

“After performing the show it was always a play that I wanted to reprise and when the opportunity to direct for the second time for the Gilbert & Sullivan Society of Bermuda came my way, I recommended strongly that this was the play that they should perform.”

Society of Bermuda president Marjorie Stanton helped him bring the play to life, he added.

“As a theatrical society we have been lucky enough to tap into a wide range of acting ability from across the Island.

“We have veteran performers rubbing shoulders with actors making their debuts on the stage and the skills of the craft are being shared amongst them all.

“With incredible enthusiasm and dedication the cast have rehearsed tirelessly throughout the process and have been able to bring the show to life.”

His thoughts are that the play couldn’t have come at a better time, as “people [around the world are] rising up to overthrow tyrannical or oppressive regimes”.

“It shows us all how art imitates life and life imitates art, and that there are lessons to be learnt by all of us when sitting in a safe and comfortable theatre watching the plight of the ‘animals’ that mirror the dangerous and real lives of people suffering real atrocities all over the world even in the 21st century.”

Curtain time is 8pm. There is also a 4pm matinee on March 26.

Tickets, $35, can be purchased online: www.gands.bm.

Talented young actor shows real stage presence


Centre stage: Rowan Vickers, who has his eye on a career in the spotlight, took a break during the rigorous auditioning process at the Central School of Speech and Drama, Guildhall, London recently.
 

By Nalani Dowling–Saltus Grammar School
Warwick Academy student Rowan Vickers, who has a significant role in the upcoming production of ‘Animal Farm’, as Squealer, is not your typical 17 year old. While most teens are busy filling out applications to colleges and universities, Rowan is just as busy making his way in the world of performing arts.
It’s no easy task as he auditions with over 2,000 others for a spot at some of the most prestigious performing arts schools.
While all of these auditions clearly take hard work and dedication, it’s obvious that Rowan is very passionate about acting and performing and is clearly on his way to doing great things with his many talents.
Rowan has been acting and performing since he was just nine years old and it’s been his main focus ever since. While he also shares a passion for rugby, he says that getting involved in acting and performing has been his “main drive” and that he hopes to one day have a career in doing what he loves.
He has had auditions at numerous schools including Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (RADA), Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts, and Central School of Speech and Drama, Guildhall, all in London, and The Juilliard School in New York City. He’s also already been accepted into Mountview and is waiting anxiously to hear back from the other schools.
Auditioning for a performing arts school is more complicated than one might think. Rowan explained that “the protocol for auditioning at each school is slightly different”, but that “you cannot get into these dedicated drama schools without going for a personal audition. They do not take DVD taped auditions,” and that means overseas travel.
So far he has flown to London three times and to New York once, and he still has another flight to London and one more to New York.
There is no funding available to cover travel expenses. “They do hold auditions in New York, if you can’t get to London,” Rowan explained, “but you do have to do it in person in either London or New York. At Julliard you can apply for a travel stipend for the final-round audition, as it is a whole weekend. I was very lucky to have a very kind friend who provided accommodation in London and a person who helped with some money towards airfares.”
At some schools there are a number of rounds for which you would prepare different classical and contemporary monologues and speeches, typically one Shakespeare, one modern and usually contrasting in nature, limited to two minutes in length. “So you have four minutes to try to make it to the next round,” Rowan observed.
Depending on how you performed in round one, you might make it to the next round. RADA and Juilliard both have four stages.
At Central and Juilliard applicants had to prepare a song from a musical as well. There are also workshops to help with some of the aspects of performing with teachers from the school.
Rowan has been so busy with travelling, auditioning, completing schoolwork and acting in Warwick Academy’s production of ‘Hairspray’ that one might think that he’d feel a little unnerved.
However, while Rowan does say that auditioning is a “long nerve-wracking process” he does not see his many duties as being a burden. “I’m at this school that has a great reputation, and I have the opportunity to do what I love to with the people who love to do it” is how Rowan explained what he thinks of the audition process.
He describes it as being “a great experience” and says that “you just have to relax and have fun with it”.

Down at the Farm


Telling a tall tale: India Wilson (left) and Philip Matthias narrate the tale of George Orwell's Animal Farm dramatised by the Gilbert and Sullivan Society at City Hall on March 23-26.
 

By This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others”: the oft-cited aphorism from George Orwell’s novella, ‘Animal Farm’, will be brought to life by the Gilbert and Sullivan Society’s production of the story, adapted for the stage by Peter Hall, this month at the City Hall theatre.
Under the direction of visiting director Matt McGowan, a cast of youngsters and adults will enact Orwell’s allegory of the Russian Revolution which describes the slow corruption of Old Major’s vision of an ideal farm on which no animal is exploited and all are deemed equal. In the end, the pigs become worse exploiters of the farm animals than the humans had been.
“A lot of people have read the book,” observed 11-year-old India Wilson, one of the play’s two narrators. “They will find it interesting to see it visually.”
The play, while not strictly a musical, has musical elements, with music by Richard Peaslee and lyrics by Adrian Mitchell. The pigs Napoleon, Snowball and Old Major are played by Gary Skelton, Jenny Burrell and Mike Jones respectively, while Rowan Vickers plays Squealer, and faithful Boxer is played by Malachi Simmons.
India and fellow Warwick Academy student Philip Matthias narrate the tale, which India described as “moving”.
“It makes you really think about what happens,” she noted. “When Mr Jones is the leader he whips [the animals] and tortures them.”
Philip also found the action compelling: “It’s really good. It’s interesting. It’s all about ideas and how political stuff works. At first I didn’t really understand everything, but through rehearsals I’ve caught on.”
Both are thrilled to get key roles in the play.
Though India has been in a number of productions, it’s usually been as a member of the chorus, so “this is the first time I’m in a big role that’s really important, so it’s actually quite fun to do it.”
The number of lines to learn can be daunting, Philip acknowledged.
“When I got the part I was really excited,” he declared. “At first I was a little bit scared because I had so many lines to learn, but now I’ve kinda learnt them all and feel a bit confident.”
For Madelyn Moore and Quinceé Dill, who both play hens, this is their first G&S production. Quinceé had some acting instruction while residing in Georgia, and now “I am having so much fun ‘cos I’m doing something I love and I’m getting so much practice doing it.”
Madelyn is also enjoying the acting experience thoroughly. “I like acting,” she noted, “and I’ve never got to be in a proper production.” And what of working with adults? “The grown-ups are much more fun than school actors,” Madelyn declared.
With her high-pitched voice, Quinceé believes she is perfect for the role of hen, “because hens are clucky and high pitched.” The hens, she noted, “have a dumb kind of character. They’re still trying to catch on to things.”
Madelyn agrees. “They’re cool,” she noted of the hens. “They twitch their heads a lot. They’re small and I like small things. They’re not annoying, but they’re not really helpful.”
At the other end of the farm’s power structure are the dogs, the pigs’ enforcers. For CedarBridge Academy student Makeda Simmons, taking on the role of a dog is fun.
Though the dogs don’t really do much, “It’s fun to be evil. You feel like a big dog, because they act like they’re scared of you, like you’re the boss. The animals are terrified of us.”
Makeda has been in a number of productions before, including G&S’s ‘Oliver!’ and thinks ‘Animal Farm’ is going to be a really good show.
“[Matt] McGowan’s an amazing director, and even if [the young audience] don’t understand the political elements, the story itself is interesting, the actors are good and the singing is interesting.”
Madelyn concurred: “It’s a really good play to put on. It shows that humans shouldn’t be abusive to animals and they should treat them as if they’re equal.”
‘Animal Farm’ runs March 23, 24, 25 at 8pm, and March 26 at 4pm. Tickets available at www.gands.bm, $30 for March 23 and $35 for other nights.


Telling a tall tale: India Wilson (left) and Philip Matthias narrate the tale of George Orwell's Animal Farm dramatised by the Gilbert and Sullivan Society at City Hall on March 23-26.
 
Violent confrontation: The animals put their lives on the line for their revolution


Bermuda Sun... Beyond the Headlines

Actor bows out of Bda with Animal Farm
Star performer Rowan Vickers accepted into several world class drama schools

Sarah Lagan
Writer/Sub-editor

Friday, February 25, 2011

 

Rising star: Rowan Vickers, pictured rehearsing for Animal Farm, is about to leave Bermuda having been accepted into some of the best drama schools in the world. *Photo supplied
 
Threesome: From left, Jenny Burrell, Gary Skelton and Rowan Vickers, who play the three pigs in the latest Gilbert & Sullivan production, Animal Farm. *Photo supplied
Animal Farm
Where: City Hall Theatre
Time: 8pm, except closing night when it shows at 4pm.
Tickets: http://www.gands.bm/
Price: Opening night $30 then $35.

A world of opportunity lies on the horizon for rising star Rowan Vickers, as one by one, he receives letters of acceptance from some of the world’s top drama schools.

What’s more, the young actor has beaten more than 2,000 hopefuls by making it to the final interview stage for The Juilliard School in New York. It is one of the most prestigious drama schools in the world, boasting such alumni as Kevin Spacey, Robin Williams and Val Kilmer.

The Warwick Academy graduate is carefully juggling his time impressing drama school faculty heads while rehearsing for the Gilbert & Sullivan Society of Bermuda’s latest production — George Orwell’s Animal Farm. It will be his last performance in Bermuda before he furthers his acting education overseas.

“I really want to live in London but if I get accepted into Juilliard, a part of me says I’d be stupid to turn it down. I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it,” he told the Bermuda Sun.

“It’s been awesome going to all these different drama schools. It was so much fun auditioning for Juilliard but it was a stressful experience — this is one of the best places in the world to do what I want to do and I was being directed by people who are the best at what they do. I thought — this is so awesome”.

Rowan has already been accepted into London schools Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts, where Dame Judy Dench is president, and the Central School of Speech and Drama and he is about to audition at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. He goes to the final round of Juilliard auditions on March 12 and 13 where he has made it to the last 40 — 18 will be chosen.

His final show here is a classic tale in which he plays one of the most prominent roles. Animal Farm is based on Orwell’s 1945 novel of the same title that mocks Stalin’s communist Russia and other such despotic regimes. It shows at City Hall Theatre from March 23 to 26 and will be directed by former Warwick Academy head of Drama, Matt McGowan — a personal friend, mentor and former tutor of Rowan’s.

Drunken farmer Mr. Jones (played by Rowan’s real life father, Ken) is ejected from the farm by all the animals who came to realize they had been taken advantage of their whole lives.

Common goal

The residents of the newly named Animal Farm announce that all animals are equal and form a plan to work towards the common goal of making their lives more efficient and enjoyable. However, certain species, most prominently the pigs, become power hungry and the animals’ dream of utopia begins to fall apart.

Rowan plays the second pig in command, Squealer who, taking orders from head pig Napoleon (played by the Bermuda Sun’s photo editor, Gary Skelton), plays a crucial role in winning the hearts and minds of the animals.

“I was given a choice and it had to be Squealer — he’s the one with the brain,” said Rowan. “Napoleon’s the bigger, imposing, scary one who is a brute but Squealer is the smiling villain and he’s very manipulative with his words. That’s often worse if you have a bully who says ‘I’m going to isolate you from everyone’.”

Other roles include Old Major (Mike Jones, History Boys), Boxer the work horse (Malachai Simmons, History Boys) runaway pig Snowball (Jenny Burrell, Missing Celia Rose), with narration by India Wilson (Railway Children) and Phillip Mathias, (Blood Brothers).

This is the first time Rowan has acted with his father Ken, whose critical opinion of his own acting he treasures. Perhaps Ken, who minored in Drama, gets some of his cultural acumen from his own father — the world-renowned opera singer Jon Vickers. “My dad’s got a really good eye,” Rowan said. “I really trust his judgement. Growing up with his dad being who he was, he can see through all the rubbish out there.”

Rowan’s family is full of creative talent — his mother Jane, for one, is on the board of G&S and is a well-respected producer here. Rowan says he was spurred into acting by his own love of film and theatre from a very young age.

He explains: “When I first got into acting I wasn’t pushed. I remember I saw Airforce One with Harrison Ford and Gary Oldman when I was nine and I was just like, ‘wow — I want to do that!’ It’s never really been a conscious thing to want to be an actor. I just do.”

Rowan was born in Canada where he played roles at the prestigious Grand Theatre and at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival before moving to Bermuda aged 11.

Here, he started doing the shows at Warwick Academy which led to performances with the Bermuda Musical and Dramatic Society, G&S and the Bermuda Festival. In 2008 he read a passage from Frankenstein at the Premier’s Concert and was invited to read a longer passage the following year, a highlight in his budding career.

The actor whom Rowan most admires right now is Derek Jacobi, a protégé of Laurence Olivier who is currently playing King Lear in a U.K. production that will end up on Broadway this Spring.

“His Hamlet will never be touched,” Rowan said. “He is a huge influence on me.”

But theatre is his first love: “My heart is really in the theatre,” he said.

“My ultimate role would be Hamlet at the National Theatre — that would be it — I’d retire!”

 

Article published October 8. 2010 07:24AM
'What an amazing opportunity'::

 

By Jessie Moniz

They may not be dressed as felines, but London West End stage director Jennifer Sawyer is having a ball working with Gilbert & Sullivan performers in Bermuda.

Ms Sawyer who has previously directed such high profile London musicals such as 'CATS' and 'Dirty Dancing' is currently directing Gilbert & Sullivan's production of 'Best Little Whorehouse in Texas' on now at City Hall. "I have loved every minute of working with the Gilbert & Sullivan Society in Bermuda," said Ms Sawyer. "What an amazing opportunity to work with them. You get to do a job you love in such a beautiful place. I have never worked with an amateur company before, and I did not know what to expect."

But she said she has been pleasantly surprised by the company's talent, enthusiasm and dedication. She urged Bermuda audiences to come out to 'Best Little Whorehouse in Texas'.

"They are working so hard," she said. "It is quite a company piece, so everyone literally has a role to play of some description. They have stunned me with their enthusiasm and dedication. They really have. I am not making it up. It is quite a fun little play and it has some great music."

Ms Sawyer got her early start in drama working as a dancer in the West End, London at the age of 18. As a performer, she was in such musicals as 'West Side Story' at Her Majesty's Theatre, 'Me and My Girl' at the Adelphi Theatre, and 'Mystery of Edwin Drood' at the Savoy, among many others.

"I really enjoyed my dance career," she said. "I also managed to get promoted to doing roles. I had a wonderful time. But one day, at 28-years-old, I looked around the dressing room and thought if I am not careful I will be the oldest chorus girl around here. A dancer's career is typically a short one. Musicals are where my heart is and I was never that great a singer. I also wanted more responsibility at this point. I wanted to work in production if at all possible."

On one West End Production, she was lucky enough to assist a choreographer who had come over from America, Graciela Daniele. Ms Daniele won a Tony for her choreography for 'The Mystery of Edwin Drood'.

"I went back to performing after that but it gave me a taste for what it was like to work in production," said Ms Sawyer. "I really liked it. It just so happened that theatre producer Sir Cameron Mackintosh was putting on a new musical in the West End and they needed a resident choreographer. So I was on the resident team, and then on 'CATS', 'Grease' and other productions. Around that time I moved from assisting and being resident choreographer to resident director. I never really planned it, I just took the opportunities that came my way."

Before coming to Bermuda she was with 'Dirty Dancing' for four years. "I was on that show from the beginning," she said. "It was one of the longest contracts I have ever done. I had a great time with it. Our stage manager who has come here from England with me is a brilliant guy called David Curl."

Mr. Curl had been involved in several Gilbert & Sullivan Society Productions in Bermuda including 'Dream Girls' and 'Full Monty'. It was through Mr. Curl that Ms Sawyer first heard of the opportunity to work with the Gilbert & Sullivan Society in Bermuda. "They are really nice people and they have been so generous with their time, and making me feel welcome," said Ms Sawyer. "I would love to come back if I was asked, but that is up to my employer."

She said although she has done tours of Europe with the musical 'The Rat Pack' and also been to Scandinavia and the Mediterranian, she has never been to a place like Bermuda.

"I don't think I really thought about what Bermuda would be like. I knew it would be hot, which I was looking forward to," she said. "I had seen pictures from David Curl's album. If you have never been to an island of this nature there is nothing that can prepare you for it. My first impression was 'oh my God, it really is that beautiful'."

She said touring the world with plays such as 'CATS' has led to some interesting experiences. "The interesting thing was rehearsing in Russia," she said. "This was the first time I had to work with an interpreter. You are never sure if the interpreter is saying what the actor said. Translations are funny. When we did 'CATS' in Antwerp, Belgium, we gave a text to a translator, he translated for us, and then gave us a back-translation so we knew exactly how it has been translated. It is funny. There is a song called 'Macavity: The Mystery Cat'. There is a line in it that goes 'Or the greenhouse glass is broken and the trellis past repair', and it came back with the back-translation 'when the pane is shattered and the bird is in the bush'. We were doing it in Flemish and that is what they came up with."

Article published October 6. 2010 06:06AM
Red light spectacle::

     


By Jessie Moniz

The latest Gilbert & Sullivan Society (G&S) production opening tonight, takes Bermuda back to a time when chicken farms could be brothels, and when brothels could be paid in live chickens.

The G&S production of 'Best Little Whorehouse in Texas' written by Larry L. King and Peter Masterson, runs until October 16.

The story is about a little Texas brothel known as the Chicken Ranch – so named because, during the Depression, customers were allowed to pay with poultry. The brothel is run by Miss Mona Stangley, a former prostitute herself.

Melvin P. Thorpe, a television commentator, is about to go on the air with "Nemisis", a watchdog programme that is supposedly committed to exposing social and commercial abuse, but in reality is only a front for giving Melvin himself exposure so that he can bathe in the limelight.

Melvin proclaims to his audience the surprising revelation that 'Texas Has Whorehouse in It'. He declares that this evil must be brought to an end and calls on the local sheriff to shut the Chicken Ranch down.

Miss Mona always has the right people to call on for advice; with 'special' relationships with politicians, local business leaders and even the law. Will Mona be able to prevent the Chicken Ranch's demise or will Melvin P. Thorpe succeed?

Cast members include Michael Hind as Deputy Fred, Alan Brooks as Doatsie Mae, Nancy Thompson as Mona, Philip Jones as Melvin, Ed Chistopher as the Governor, Jenny Burrell as Angel, Kelly Souza as Shy, Denise Whitter as Jewel and Mark Hamilton as Sheriff.

The play is directed by Jenny Sawyer who trained at Arts Educational. Her early credits, as a performer, include many West End musicals such as 'West Side Story' at Her Majesty's Theatre, 'Me And My Girl' at the Adelphi Theatre, 'Fiddler On The Roof' and 'Camelot' at the Apollo Victoria, 'Edwin Drood' at the Savoy and 'Sherlock Holmes' at the Cambridge Theatre.

Whilst performing 'Edwin Drood', Ms Sawyer became assistant to the choreographer Graziella Danielle. She then took up the same duties on 'Annie' at the Thorndike Theatre, 'Leatherhead' and on 'Moby Dick' and 'Which Witch' at the Piccadilly Theatre.

She has recently worked as Resident Director on the European tour and 'West End' productions of 'The Rat Pack' and most recently as Associate Director on London's West End production of 'Dirty Dancing'.

The musical director of the play is Londoner Dan Jackson whose credits include, but are not limited to, 'The White Guard', 'London Assurance' and 'Burnt By The Sun' (National Theatre), 'Piaf' (Vaudeville), 'Jerry Springer The Opera' (UK Tour), 'Chicago' (International Tour), 'The Master and Margarita' (Chichester).

This is an article from www.theroyalgazette.com


Article published October 8. 2010 06:45AM
Raunchy good fun at the Chicken Ranch::

Fellas, fiddle music and frilly 'unmentionables' fill the stage of the City Hall Theatre in the Gilbert and Sullivan Society's latest production, 'The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas', which runs until October 16.

In true G&S style, the company of amateurs presents a production of near-professional quality, with a strong chorus and shining individual performances.

Nancy Thompson gives a particularly strong performance in the leading role of Miss Mona Stangley, the madam with a heart. She is able to make the somewhat improbable combination of hard-nosed businesswoman and empathetic mother-figure convincing. Mark Hamilton, in the supporting role of Sheriff Earl Dodd, provides an interesting foil for the feisty but ultimately philosophical entrepreneur whose business approach is "mass volume and repeat business like Coca-Cola and MacDonald's."

The failings are not the fault of the cast but the book and lyrics: a rather anti-climatic ending and no tunes that pass 'the old grey whistle test'.

The plot loosely follows the fate of the very real Chicken Ranch, which operated as "an illegal but tolerated brothel" for almost 70 years in the early part of the last century. Given that the plot centres on a woman who becomes rich exploiting other vulnerable women (she keeps 75 percent of their salary and makes them work six days a week), and a lawman who fails to enforce the law in return for campaign contributions, there's lots of opportunity for irony about the 'respectability' of the establishment and the hypocrisy of the Establishment. The self-serving self-righteousness of television personality Melvin P. Thorpe, ably played by Philip Jones, and his watchdogs prompts a public campaign to close the whorehouse down, leaving the girls to find alternative jobs in the big bad world and Miss Mona to retire to her ranch.

The dissatisfaction comes in the manner in which the play concludes: the girls, whose characters are never really fully developed, drift off in an aimless way; the relationship between Miss Mona and the Sheriff proves hollow and Doatsey Mae's dreams remain unfulfilled – perhaps too much like real life.

The script is delightful, full of innuendo, puns and double entendres, and Sheriff Dodd is given particularly vivid dialogue, with lots of striking imagery. In addition to some of the livelier numbers, like 'The Aggie Song', anticipating "75 miles until we get to heaven", 'Doatsey Mae', sung feelingly by Fran Griffiths, and the Sheriff's 'Good Old Girl' add elements of bitter-sweet ballad to the musical line-up. But you don't come away wanting to seek out the soundtrack to reprise any of the tunes.

The production itself is good, with care taken to create a believable Victorian ranch-style house with deep porch and white-picket fence and quick changes to the street outside a small-town courthouse and the interior of a 60s style diner. I wasn't sure, however, about the preponderance of dry ice – I hadn't realised areas of Texas were so foggy.

Choreography is crisp, and I was particularly taken with the flashlight choreography of the Watch Dog Theme, though we miss half the Angelettes' half-time number, which is a shame.

The cast is strong, and the score offers opportunity for a number of individuals to shine: Denise Whitter's Jewel has great presence in a sultry, soulful 'Twenty-four Hours of Lovin'', and Alan Brooks is able to depict two different characters convincingly. Ed Christopher, portraying the Governor who likes to dance the little sidestep, is in danger of stealing the show in the second half.

The Gilbert and Sullivan Society is to be commended for consistently bringing to the local stage the wide range of musical theatre it does; and in such a professional manner. Whatever the faults of the production, they do not lie with the cast and production crew.

'The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas' runs until October 16 at the City Hall Theatre. Curtain is 8 p.m. except Sunday, October 10 when there is a 3 p.m. matinee performance only. Tickets $50 are available online at http://www.gands.bm/ and at the theatre box office one hour before performances.

You can now assist the Gilbert & Sullivan Society of Bermuda by making a donation with our secure credit card payment option.