Magazine article American Theatre

Come on in, the Weather's Fine!

Magazine article American Theatre

Come on in, the Weather's Fine!

Article excerpt

BEACH BALLS AND BANJOLELES WEREN'T AROUND when Gilbert and Sullivan penned their operettas in the late 1800s, hut that doesn't stop The Hypocrites from using them in their adventurous takes on the duo's work. Throw in some kiddie pools, maybe a mouth harp or two, and stage it promenade-style with the actors surrounding the audience and you get an idea of u hat it's like to spend time with Gilbert and Sullivan through the Hypocrites' eves.

When the Chicago-based company started incorporating musicals into their repertoire, founding artistic director Sean Graney struggled to find shows in the public domain. His aesthetic relies on an improv-driven collaboration in the rehearsal room in order to create an original adaptation--and artists can't change a word of Rodgers and Hammerstein. So Graney decided to give G&S a try.

"I'd never given them much credit," Graney' remembers, adding that he always saw G&S as "serious theatre artists." "Then I listened to Pirates of Penzanee, and I tell in love. Why had this been hidden from me for so long? It's subversive! They talk about the foibles of the hierarchy of society without being too heavy-handed about it."

Inspired by John Doyle, Graney chose to use the actor/musician model, with 1(1 performers on instruments. Reducing the operatic scores for "nine jerks on guitar" proved challenging. " I here was a lot of banging our heads against the wall that first year," Graney adds.

In fact, Pirates proved to be a huge success in 2010 and has since been performed at theatres across the country, including Massachusetts's American Repertory Theatre in 201 a and Kentucky s Actors Theater of Louisville in 2014. …

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