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The best of Gilbert and Sullivan

The premise is simple: noted playwright William Schwenck Gilbert and composer Arthur Seymour Sullivan are sitting around famous London gentleman’s club Garrick Club with impresario Richard D’Oyly Carte, reminiscing about their successful careers.

Writing the 1986 play “Gilbert & Sullivan a la Carte,” however, took a lot of research by then-Seattle playwright John Majors, who now resides in Sequim.

“All the quotes are actually from Gilbert and Sullivan, I didn’t invent anything,” Majors said at a rehearsal for the play. While the gentleman’s club meeting came from Majors’ imagination, he said the club does exist, the trio was known to frequent it and most of the dialogue is genuine.

According to Majors, who wrote the play under pen name Giovanni Frederico, Gilbert and Sullivan were born comedians, so Majors strived to incorporate wit and pun into his play.

“All the humor and all the puns come out between Gilbert and Sullivan,” Majors explained.

Another significant plot point came when Majors, who is half Italian, discovered Sullivan, often described as “England’s Mozart,” was actually Italian.

“No one’s brought the Italian connection to Gilbert and Sullivan; it’s significant to the whole plot,” Majors said of the trio’s numerous Italian melodies.

The musical features 24 of the best songs from nine of the operas that the trio collaborated on, including “The Gondoliers,” “HMS Pinafore” and “Pirates of Penzance,” with dialogue peppered in between the numbers. Majors said he knows many of the melodies will sound familiar to the audience members.

“When you hear the music, you think, ‘Now where have I heard that before?’” Majors said. “Gilbert and Sullivan were the originators of the American musical comedy.”

Although Majors and his wife, Beverly, have lived in Sequim for eight years, his play is being performed here for the first time, in a team effort by the Readers Theatre Plus and the Peninsula Singers.

“It’s marvelous, it’s just marvelous,” Majors said of the performance. “There’s no agenda here. The dialogue fits the music and the music fits the dialogue … it all comes together.”



A la Carte

Who: Readers Theatre Plus featuring the Peninsula Singers

What: “Gilbert and Sullivan a la Carte,” written by Sequim playwright John Majors, directed by Carol Swarbrick Dries and musically directed by Dewey W. Ehling

When: 7:30 p.m. July 18-19, 25-26; 2 p.m. July 20 and 27

Where: Dungeness Schoolhouse, 2781 Towne Road

Tickets: $12 donation at the door — the group is offering a discount for those who have purchased Lavender Festival admission buttons. Proceeds from the show are being split evenly between Readers Theatre Plus, Peninsula Singers and the Sequim Museum and Arts Center.

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