Sullivan and Gilbert

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Sullivan and Gilbert is a musical by Ken Ludwig with music and lyrics by Gilbert and Sullivan. Sullivan and Gilbert features over 15 Gilbert and Sullivan songs. It examines an eventful day in the lives of the famous Victorian era composer and dramatist, and takes place behind the scenes at the Savoy Theatre in London.

Sullivan and Gilbert premiered in 1983[1] at National Arts Centre of Canada, where it won the Ottawa Critics’ Circle award for Best Play of the Year, followed by a run at the Kennedy Center starring Fritz Weaver and Noel Harrison. It also played in Milford, New Hampshire in 1983.[2] The cast includes eight men and four women.

This is not the only show about the Gilbert and Sulivan partnership. A 1938 Broadway show, Knights of Song, tells the story of the partnership,[3] as do the musicals "The Savoyards", by Donald Madgwick (1971) and "Tarantara Tarantara", by Ian Taylor (1975), and the films The Story of Gilbert and Sullivan and Topsy-Turvy.


Near the end of their collaboration, and still smarting from their famous carpet quarrel, W. S. Gilbert and Sir Arthur Sullivan have neither seen nor spoken with each other in months. Now they must supervise a rehearsal for a revue of their comic operas, a command performance for Queen Victoria. The underprepared show is set to open in about eight hours. Sullivan has been ill and has missed most of the rehearsals; and he’s in love with pretty Violet Russell, a young soprano of whom Gilbert disapproves. To make matters worse, Sullivan has invited Alfred, the Duke of Edinburgh (and son of the Queen), to join the cast. The eager duke can't sing, dance or remember his cues. When Gilbert finds out, he's furious. With a company of temperamental actors to manage, and their producer, Richard D'Oyly Carte, breathing down their necks, there is plenty for the two men to fight about. But their admiration for each other as collaborators and friends wins the day.


  1. ^ Wysocki, Heather. "Sullivan and Gilbert' a delightful romp". Cape Cod Times, June 28, 2008, accessed April 12, 2011
  2. ^ Listing of Ludwig plays
  3. ^ "Knights of Song" at the IBDB database