THE RED MILL’S ONSTAGE AGAIN

Victor Herbert’s
enchanting musical
The Red Mill

Sat., Mar. 31, 8 pm and Sun., April 1, 2 pm
The Village Theater
50400 Cherry Hill Road, Canton, MI 48187
Credit card orders: 734-394-5460
OnLine: www.canton-mi.org/villagetheater
or at Summit on the Park, 46000 Summit Pkwy, Canton
and at the door

Adults: $20.00 Seniors $17.00 Students: $15.00

The Comic Opera Guild will present this enchanting musical comedy as its sixth consecutive production at Canton’s The Village Theater, and the main show of its 39th season. Seventeen soloists will be accompanied by chorus and orchestra, staged by Thomas Petiet and conducted by Argentinian maestro, Mariano Riera.

The Comic Opera Guild, already known throughout the state for touring original English language productions of European operettas, has recently become the primary producer of Victor Herbert operettas in the world, with 30 titles to its credit. This production will be followed, in May, with the revival and recording of three more of this composer’s shows.

Why Victor Herbert? In the early years of the American musical stage, productions tended to be rather unsophisticated revues or burlesques. The better shows were all imported from Europe. Herbert came to America from Ireland as a cellist and conductor, but soon tired of performing the works of other, less capable people. He began writing scores for the stage, and shortly became the most sought-after composer on Broadway. His meticulous and gorgeous scoring earned him the title “The Father of the American Musical.”

Unfortunately, Herbert died before the recording industry could reproduce sound accurately, and so as the jazz age came into popularity, his works could not be enjoyed in their entirety. Many of his songs became standards, but the shows eventually disappeared from the stage.

Of all Herbert’s shows, “The Red Mill,” “Babes in Toyland” and “Naughty Marietta” are the easiest to revive, as they all show the composer at top of his game. The scores are full of fine melodies and rich ensemble writing. Although the original books don’t work so well today, the Guild has provided new versions of each show, intended to make these shows hits again for new audiences.

The basic plot remains pretty much the same. In a village in Holland, two American vaudevillians, Con and Kid, who have been seeking their fortune in Europe, itch to get back to New York, but are stranded penniless in the little inn, “The Sign of the Red Mill”. The owner of the inn, Burgomijster Van Borkum, seeks to marry his daughter, Gretje, to the Governor of Zeeland.

Gretje loves merchant marine Captain Dorus van Damm, however. The Americans, along with the Inn’s maid Tina, agree to help Gretje and the Captain elope in return for passage to America. The Burgomijster, to prevent this, locks Gretje in the mill, where she pines away for the man she loves. Kid, Con and Tina try to help her escape, but the Burgomijster has made all arrangements for the marriage of his daughter to the governor, and makes sure the police will not let her leave town. The two Americans appear at the wedding festivities in disguise in a plot to subvert the wedding. When it is discovered that Captain Van Damm is heir to a large fortune, all resistance to him collapses. The lovers are united, and they, Tina and the Americans return home to old New York.

The show was written for the Vaudeville comedy team of Montgomery and Stone, and the Guild’s team of Keith Austin Brown and Don Devine will fill their roles. The fiery Tina will be played by soprano Giles Simmer, the Burgomijster by Guild veteran Bob Douglas, and the young lovers will be Natalie Emptage and Gyorgy Barabas.

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THE PRINCE OF PILSEN on CD

The Prince of Pilsen, by Gustav Luders and Frank Pixley, is now available on CD from the Comic Opera Guild.

The Guild’s recent production of this 1903 hit featured not only the complete score, but also the dialog. it proved indeed to be a very funny show.

Written to highlight the comedic talents of John W. Ransome, the script features a Cincinnati beer baron who speaks with a thick German accent. The line “Vass you effer in Cincinnati” was repeated in Vaudeville for years to follow, and was even used by Mel Brooks in a comedy routine.

Technically an operetta, the score is very tuneful and shows a simplification in ensemble writing that continued into the musical comedy. It combines romantic numbers with truly funny comedy numbers, and bows to the convention of including a patriotic finale at the end.

To the Guild’s knowledge, its recording is the only one that includes the complete musical score as well as dialog. It is available for $15.00 (music only) or $20.00 (complete with dialog). Details for ordering can be found at: comicoperaguild.org.

SONG LIST
ACT I
No. 1 OPENING CHORUS “IN DAYS OF OLD” ………………….. Francois, Edith and Chorus
No. 2 SONG “ARTIE”……………………………………………………. Artie and Women’s Chorus
No. 3 SONG “A SEASON AT THE SHORE”…………………….. Mrs. Crocker And Vassar Girls
No. 4 ENSEMBLE ………………………………………………… Francois, Hans, Edith and Chorus
No. 14 SONG “THE MESSAGE OF THE VIOLETS” ………………………………. Tom and chorus
No. 5 ENSEMBLE “TO FUN AND FOLLY”………………………………….. Prince and Students
No. 6 “STEIN SONG” …………………………………………………………… Prince and Students
No. 7 TRIO “THE WIDOW”……………………………………………. Mrs. Crocker, Hans, Artie
No. 8 DUET “KEEP IT DARK” ………………………………………………… Sidonie and Francois
No. 9 DUET “SMOKES”…………………………………………….. Prince and Nellie, with chorus
No. 10 FINALE ACT 1………………………………………………………………………….. Ensemble

INTERMISSION

ACT II
No. 11 ENSEMBLE “THE FOX HUNT” ………………………………………….. Edith and Chorus
No. 12 SONG “HE DIDN’T KNOW WHAT TO DO” …………………………………………. Hans
No. 13 “THE AMERICAN GIRL” ………………… Mrs. Crocker, Vassar Girls 1, 2, 3 and chorus No. 15 SONG “THE TALE OF THE SEASHELL” ……………………………….. Prince and chorus
No. 16 DUET “BACK TO THE BOULEVARDS” …………………………….. Francois and Sidonie No. 17 ENSEMBLE “THE FLOWER FETE” …………………… Mrs. Crocker, Edith and Chorus
No. 18 FINALE………………………………………………………………………. Tom And Company

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GIRL FROM UTAH ON CD

The recent complete production of THE GIRL FROM UTAH by Paul Rubens, Sidney Jones and Jerome Kern has now become available on CD.

The recording, featuring 18 singers with dual piano accompaniment, features not only all the songs added for the American production of the show in 1915, but also the opening chorus and first act finale that were cut for casting reasons in the original production.

Although the show is remembered today primarily for Jerome Kern’s first big hit (They’ll Never Believe Me), the quality of the remainder of the score is a pleasant discovery.

Considerable research went into putting the production together. Dialog for shows of this period is notoriously hard to find, often residing uncatalogued in library storage or in the hands of collectors. Dialog for the Girl from Utah was discovered in the National Library of Australia. The numbers added for the American run had to be sought out individually and fitted where original numbers from the British production had been.

SONG LIST
ACT I In Dumpelmeyer’s Restaurant

1 PROLOGUE ” Land of Let’s pretend”  ………………………..All            (Jerome Kern)
2 OPENING CHORUS ………………………………………………..All            (Sidney Jones)
3 SONG “Mother will be pleased” …… Amersham & Lady Amersham (Paul Rubens)
4 ENTRANCE OF THE ACTRESSES ……. Mona, Lydia., Sylvia, Alma & Chor. (Sidney Jones)
5 SONG AND CHORUS “Only to you” ………………… Dora & Chor.    (Paul Rubens)
6 SONG “Gilbert the Filbert”……………………………….. Sandy            (Herman Finck)
7 DUET “Out of It ” ……………………………… Trimmit and Clancy         (Paul Rubens)
8 SONG and CHORUS “A Girl from Utah” …………… Una and Chor. (Sidney Jones)
9 DUET “D’you follow me”…………………………………..Una and Sandy (Paul Rubens)
10 QUARTET “When we meet the Mormon” …… Una, Dora, Clancy, and Sandy (Paul Rubens)
11 DUET … “We’re getting on very well” ………… Dora and Trimmit   (Paul Rubens)
12 FINALE……………………………………………………………. All                  (Sidney Jones)
including “The Girl in the Clogs and Shawl” ……. Una, Trimmit, Sandy (Casling/Murphy)

INTERMISSION

ACT II, Scene 1 Outside Lord Orpington’s House
13 TRIO “where Has Una Gone” Dora, Clancy, Amersham, Trimmit, and Sandy (Paul Rubens)
14 SONG “Florrie The Flapper” ……………………………. Trimmit       (Herman Finck)
15 SONG “Call right here !” ………………………………Una and Women (Paul Rubens)
16 DUET “Some Sort of Girl” …………………………… Una and Sandy  (Jerome Kern)
17 TRIO ” The Garden Gate” ……………… Trimmit, Una and Sandy  (Sidney Jones)

ACT II, Scene 2 At the Arts Ball
18 CHORUS ” The Arts Ball” ………………………………………….. All (Sidney Jones)
19 SONG “What a dreadful thing to do” ……………… Dora and Chor. (Paul Rubens)
20 SONG “Nothing at All” ………………………………………… Clancy        (Paul Rubens)
21 DUET “They Didn’t Believe Me“ ……………….. Una and Sandy       (Jerome Kern)
22 SONG “You Never Can Tell” ………………………Una and Sandy       (Jerome Kern)
23 SONG “At Our Tango Tea” …………………………….. Trimmit           (Worten David)

24 SONG “Why Don’t They Dance the Polka?” …..Amersham and Women (Jerome Kern)

25    SONG  “Ballin’ The Jack” ……………………   Sandy and Chor.         (Chris Smith)
26     FINALE  “She’s a girl from Utah”………………………….  All     (Jones & Rubens)

The recording is available from the Comic Opera Guild at $15.00 (music only) and $20.00 (complete with dialog). Details for ordering may be found at: comicoperaguild.org

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THE GIRL FROM UTAH REVIVED

Continuing a program that began in 2004, the Comic Opera Guild will present revivals two early American musicals: Gustav Luders’ “The Prince of Pilsen,” and Jerome Kern’s “The Girl from Utah,” presented in concert form on alternate days at Ann Arbor’s Vitosha Haus Concert Hall. Both shows will be added to the Guild’s collection of Early American Musicals recordings.

THE GIRL FROM UTAH was originally a British hit by Paul Rubens and Sidney Jones. Itopened at the Adelphi Theatre in London on 18 October 1913 and had an initial run of 195 performances. Producer Charles Frohman wanted to bring this sure-fire success to New York, but he realized that its intrinsic “British-ness” might not work as well on the American stage, since by this time the country was developing musicals with more home-grown themes. Although the story, about a girl from Utah, fit well, he wanted more American content in the music, and so hired Jerome Kern and veteran lyricist Herbert Reynolds to write five new numbers, both to replace weaker numbers and to make the show more American in appeal.

The show opened in the Knickerbocker Theater on August 9, 1915. When Julia Sanderson and Donald Brian introduced Kern’s “They Didn’t Believe Me,” they became one of the most popular stage duos of their time.

Kern and Reynolds had been working on Broadway adding uncredited songs to other shows, but by this time they were well enough know to demand credit. Their delightful ballad “They Didn’t Believe Me” marked a turning point in the development of popular music. The melody defies time, the lyrics are more straight-forward, and the result pointed to the Broadway musical’s future. The lyric captured the easy cadence of everyday conversation –

And when I told them
How beautiful you are
They didn’t believe me.
They didn’t believe me.

This song singlehandedly established the ascendancy of the modern 4/4 ballad over the older waltz and set the pattern for musical comedy love songs for the next half century or more. Frohman added some other hit songs of the day to the score, including “Ballin’ the Jack,” as it was common for producers and composers to interpolate songs into shows for commercial purposes. This particular tinkering, however, is what made THE GIRL FROM UTAH so important in American musical theater history.

For the Comic Opera Guild to revive this show, it was necessary to do a bit of sleuthing. The score for the American version of THE GIRL FROM UTAH was never published. . The only published score, the original by Paul Rubens and Sidney Jones, was found in the University of Pennsylvania Library, and the script was obtained from the National Library of Australia. Fortunately, a list of the songs from the Broadway version was discovered and all the added numbers had to be individually found and obtained.

The story is an amusing curiosity, involving a girl running from Utah to England to escape being made one of the wives of a Mormon elder. This character never appears, but the panic of running from him brings The Girl together with a young British actor.

The Guild has assembled a talented cast from Southeast Michigan and northern Ohio. The Girl from Utah will feature David Andrews , well-known to fans of Gilbert and Sullivan for his portrayals with the U of M Gilbert and Sullivan Society as Sandy. Also featured in the cast are Kate Sikora as Una, the girl from Utah, Carla Margolis as Dora, Thomas Petiet as Amersham, Keith Austin Brown as Trimmit and Viktoria Wilson as Colleen Clancy. The shows will be performed on alternate nights in the ornate Vitosha Concert Hall, formerly the Universalist Church on Washtenaw. David Troiano conducts, and the singers will be accompanied by the duo piano team of Patrick Johnson and Margaret Counihan.

Friday eve., Nov. 11, 8 pm
Sunday Matinee. Nov. 13, 2 pm

Vitosha Haus Concert Hall
1917 Washtenaw, Ann Arbor, 48104

General Admission: $15.00
Seniors $12.00
Generous Seating Accommodations

Tickets available at the door, or in advance
Credit Card orders: 734-763-TKTS (8587)
Web: mutotix.com

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THE PRINCE OF PILSEN OPENS IN ANN ARBOR

From inception, the Guild has always produced shows that were rarely seen in this country, concentrating on European operettas in new English translations. As these contained unique creative elements, all shows were recorded, and the company has offered these recordings and translations to people and companies around the world.

The Victor Herbert Festival in 2004 also produced recordings, but they proved popular enough to indicate a market for more recordings, as no audio record of most of the shows existed. Festivals of Victor Herbert and Jerome Kern shows became a continuing mission to rediscover shows from the beginning of Broadway. The list now stands at nearly 50 American operettas and musicals from 1895 to 1931. The PRINCE OF PILSEN has been revived as recently as 1997, but was never recorded. The Guild will correct that omission during this run.

The PRINCE OF PILSEN (1903) was the biggest hit by Gustav Luders, a German conductor who emigrated to New York and became a successful Broadway composer. Although Luders wrote a number of shows that were very popular in the early years of the 20th century, this was his finest creation. The show is not familiar today, but the composers of the golden age of musical theater certainly knew it. There are moments that remind one of Romberg’s THE STUDENT PRINCE, and it opened the same season as a play title ALT HEIDELBERG, which formed the basis for Romberg’s hit.

The show features rollicking melodies and a very amusing story. The plot, briefly, concerns Cincinnati beer baron Hans Wagner (considered the King of Pilsener), vacationing in France, who is mistaken for a visiting noble, The Prince of Pilsen (a city in Czechoslovakia). After Hans happily accepts the mistaken adulation of the hotel staff and the crowds they have arranged, the real Prince arrives with his friends from college. Seizing on an opportunity to court a young American girl, the Prince decides to make the best of the opportunity by posing as a commoner. After several complications, all ends happily with more than one betrothal.

The show pokes fun at the accents and mannerisms of Europeans and new American citizens, and the Guild will be true to “accent humor” in this production. The role of the Prince of Pilsen will be sung by Ed Pember, a baritone who has sung with Michigan Opera Theater and the Detroit Symphony. Also featured are Thomas Petiet as Hans Wagner and Elizabeth Robertson as Mrs. Crocker. David Andrews, well-known to fans of Gilbert and Sullivan for his portrayals with the U of M Gilbert and Sullivan Society, will take on the role of Arthur, earl of Shrimpton. The shows will be performed in concert style on alternate nights in the ornate Vitosha Concert Hall, formerly the Universalist Church on Washtenaw. David Troiano conducts, and the singers will be accompanied by the duo piano team of Patrick Johnson and Margaret Counihan.

THE PRINCE OF PILSEN
By Gustav Luders

Thursday Eve, Nov. 10, 8 pm
Saturday Eve, Nov. 12, 8 pm

Vitosha Haus Concert Hall
1917 Washtenaw, Ann Arbor, 48104

General Admission: $15.00
Seniors $12.00
Generous Seating Accommodations

Tickets available at the door, or in advance
Credit Card orders: 734-763-TKTS (8587)
Web: mutotix.com

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The Festival of Doves

Tomas Breton
The Festival of Doves

Opera in One Act
English version by Thomas Petiet

Spanish zarzuelas are seldom seen north of the United States border, which is a shame, for they than be very entertaining. Although Placido Domingo has performed and promoted them in Mexico and elsewhere in Latin America, they haven’t traveled much outside the Spanish-speaking world.

La Verbena de la Paloma is in the 19th century style. Its well-constructed musical score is mated to a new English translation that is charmingly amusing, and the Spanish musical flavor is intoxicating.

In 1981, The Comic Opera Guild premiered its English version of the show. Although utilizing a piano rather than a full orchestra, the recording shows the promise that this one-acter holds. As a brief, refreshing departure from the run-of-the-mill, The Festival of Doves is worth considering. For information, visit comicoperaguild.org.

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THE MAGIC FLUTE

Mozart’s
THE MAGIC FLUTE
Opera in Two Acts
English version by Thomas Petiet

Never intended as a Grand Opera, The Magic Flute has had grandness imposed upon it by adoring admirers of Mozart. The Guild’s performing version returns to the musical theater roots of the show to create an operatic experience more accessible to new audiences.

Mozart’s collaborator, Emmanuel Shikaneder, ran a small theater in Vienna, and decided to collaborate with Mozart on a fairy tale “singspiel” that contained elements of the pair’s interest in Masonry. The lyrics, though workable, are not really high art.

Mr. Petiet’s translation essentially uses the German book and lyrics as inspiration to create and English version that reflects the folk-tale simplicity of the show while retaining the its magic. In doing so, this version is ideal for children and adults alike.

The Comic Opera Guild offers a recording of the show, as well as the ability for other producing companies to rent it. For information, go to comicoperaguild.org.

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A Night in Venice

Johann Strauss, Jr.
A Night in Venice

Operetta in Three Acts
English by Thomas Petiet

Premiered by the Comic Opera Guild in 1989, this new version boasts a completely new libretto and the original 1883 Strauss orchestration. Unlike the versions that have been available, this production uses no interpolated music. The new book replaces a decidedly silly and mediocre libretto with a coherent and amusing story that better suits the glory of Strauss’ music.

The authors of the libretto, Zell and Genee, had also written Der Bettelstudent, which they realized was much better than A Night in Venice. They had intended to give the poorer libretto to Carl Millocker, whom they considered a lesser composer to Strauss. On second thought, they decided that by switching the librettos, both shows might be a hit. They knew that Strauss, having read both scripts, wanted Der Bettelstudent, so they deceitfully told him that was just fine… that Millocker wanted A Night in Venice. The overly competitive Strauss immediately told them that, in that case, he wanted A Night in Venice!

Strauss’ folly was soon apparent, as the show was a failure due to the ridiculous story. The main protagonist, Barbara, wife of Senator DelAqua, appears hardly at all, and the plot waffles among secondary characters. As a result, the show has undergone numerous revisions since then, but without fixing the main problem.

Mr. Petiet has endeavored to restructure the plot to make sense, especially concerning the character Barbara. In this version, reassigned music makes Barbara the lead soprano, and she accepts an invitation to go to the Duke’s palace to spite her husband, who has become inattentive. Through circumstances, two other women, DelAcqua’s mistress Ciboletta, and the fishmonger Annina, also accept the duke’s invitation, but must wear a similar dress to Barbara in order to impersonate her. The licentious Duke soon has all he can handle!

This show is a fitting companion piece to Die Fledermaus, deserving of greater popularity than it has previously attained. The Comic Opera Guild offers a recording, as well as rental information of its production at comicoperaguild.org.

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DIE FLEDERMAUS

DIE FLEDERMAUS
Operetta in Three Acts by Johann Strauss
Lyrics by Thomas Petiet
Book by Richard Swain

Perhaps the most popular operetta in the world, Fledermaus overcomes even average translations. This new English version is anything but. It combines witty, urbane dialogue based on the original play, Le Reveillon, with clever lyrics by Thomas Petiet. Written by Richard Swain, who directed the Comic Opera Guild’s first production in 1975, the dialog was originally mated to lyrics by Gershom Morningstar. Mr. Petiet supplied the new lyrics in order to better match the intent of the original writers. The dialog has been retained for future productions, as it has proven its worth in fleshing out the characters and improving the comic situations in the show.

The lyrics are based on the author’s years of performances in the show, which the Guild produced four times in its history. They blend well with the script, and make it seem as though the show was originally written in English.

For companies with singers who can act, this Fledermaus is a certain crowd pleaser. The Comic Opera Guild offers the show for rental by other producing companies. Information can be found at comicoperaguild.org.

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ROBINSON CRUSOE

ROBINSON CRUSOE
Ann Operetta in Three Acts
By Jacques Offenbach
English by Thomas Petiet

Offenbach’s musical treatment of the famous Defoe story might have languished on the shelf forever had the Guild not seen the potential of editing and adapting this show for modern audiences.

The show was originally written for the Opera Comique, a more prestigious setting than that enjoyed by most of Offenbach’s operettas. Having risen in popularity since his Orpheus in the Underworld, the audacious composer could not longer be ignored by the French musical establishment, and so invited him to write a work for the classy theater, as long as he adhered to what its rules required.

Opera Comique in France did not mean “comic opera” necessarily. Works in that category included Bizet’s Carmen as well as Gounod’s Faust because they had spoken dialog, unlike the loftier pieces that appeared at the Grand Opera.

Offenbach was required to write a more romantic, less satiric piece which did not lampoon people who might be in the audience. The result was a very fleshed-out thing that went on far too long and didn’t remain in the repertory. Within it, however, were sections of the old brilliance that cried out for expression in a better vehicle.

Mr. Petiet completely restructured the comic opera and reduced its length by a third. Complete with upper-class snobs, rowdy sailors, cannibals and pirates. Robinson Crusoe now fits among the composer’s better works as an operetta. It is a treat for the entire family, and even contains an audience participation scene, in which a child is invited from the audience to act as interpreter for Crusoe and Friday.

The Comic Opera Guild offers a recording of its 1994 production as well as rental of the show for other producing companies. Information can be found at comicoperaguild.org.

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