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Gilbert and Sullivan with Marcy Irving

welcome to Zeitgeist Radio. I'm Morgan Roe, founder of the Zeitgeist Academy. Every episode here on Zeitgeist Radio, I speak with someone from a unique musical subculture looking to understand their relationship with music. Zeitgeist means spirit of the times. Imagine all the things that make this moment feel different from other times.

The way people feel, what they like, the things they do together. That's what we call Zeitgeist. It's like a big invisible bubble that helps us understand the spirit or feeling of the time we're in. The idea here is that music may be universal, but each musical scene has its own mini zeitgeist. And that's what we're here to learn about on this podcast.

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Morgan: My guest today is Marcy Irving, the director and founder of the central coast, Gilbert and Sullivan group. Marcy, welcome to Zeitgeist Radio.

Marcy: Hi, Morgan. I'm so excited to be here. I'm so

Morgan: excited. Thank you for coming on. So I would like you to introduce yourself . , you are multifaceted. How would you describe

Marcy: yourself musically? My name is Marcy Irving and I am on the music faculty at Cuesta College.

where I teach rock and roll appreciation but really my education and training is in classical voice and I sing opera and direct opera. I love musical theater. I love choral music. So yeah, I do a lot of different things.

Morgan: I love it. I love it. When did you get your start?

Like, around what age were you when you started making music?

Marcy: I've been singing for as long as I can remember. My dad says I was three. My mom says that might not be true, but I remember listening to and singing music as far back as I can remember. Yeah,

Morgan: yeah, I love it. . So, , we actually sing in several groups together.

Yay. But we're here to talk about this project that you have Central Coast Gilbert and Sullivan, and I'm so interested in this. But I think in, before we get going, it would be helpful for our listeners to have a little bit of a background on Gilbert and Sullivan. Can you describe who they were?

Marcy: So Gilbert and Sullivan were Victorian, so 19th century lyricist and composer.

Gilbert was born in 1836, and he wrote the words. And Arthur Sullivan was born in 1842, and he wrote the music. And so their British comic opera, they're in English, and they're Kind of the predecessor of musical theater, but the music is really classical ish. So it's kind of opera and kind of musical theater and it's just funny.

They're funny and also beautiful and serious sometimes. And I just, I fell in love with them right away. And they've. been performing them for almost 200 years, so they've really lasted. .

Morgan: , can you name a few of the, like, key, like, most popular ones that people might,

Marcy: Recognize? Most people know the Pirates of Penzance.

Yeah. Because especially there was the Kevin Kline Linda Ronstadt movie. In the seventies, so people have seen that. The Mecado is very popular, which we just did last year. And HMS Pinna four, those are the big three that everybody knows. Yeah,

Morgan: my high school definitely did Pinna four. I've seen Pinna four a couple different times.

I remember it was my high school. Did that one. Yeah.

Marcy: Gosh. Were you in it?

Morgan: I was, I was a choir kid. I was not in it, it was before I joined theater. I'm jealous. But it was, yeah, no, I wanted

Marcy: to . High school had done something like that.

Morgan: Yeah. And then I also saw it separately. As an adult community theater up in Portland, put it on and I had a friend in it.

And I actually have a moment I want to share later on about that, that but yes HMS Pinafore definitely. Definitely one of my favorites just because it's one of the ones that I've seen. Yeah.

Marcy: It's great and funny and the music is great and happy. It's very funny. Yeah. ,

Morgan: do you remember what your first Gilbert and Sullivan show that you ever saw was?

Marcy: Yes. It was actually Pinafore. It was HMS Pinafore. And I was maybe four or five. It was made for kids. It was a kiddie production in a gym somewhere in the San Fernando Valley. And yeah, I remember it vividly. I remember the costumes and the singers and little Buttercup handed out peppermint drops to the kids.

And yeah, it was just, it was probably life changing for me. Most spectacular thing ever.

Morgan: What's so interesting to me about, about going to these shows is it really is like you mentioned the. The crossover between opera and musical theater, the experience is very much like musical theater, like going to a Broadway comedy, but but yes, the singing is, is more operatic.

There are techniques that are used that are, are more opera. So Are you able to speak a little bit to, like, that influence on musical theater? I feel like, like Gilbert and Sullivan, they must have been kind of right there on that edge when that other genre started to be branching

Marcy: off. Yeah. Gilbert and Sullivan at, well, music halls in vaudeville and that kind of thing were considered kind of tawdry.

Like you did with your family. Were they vaudeville? No, they weren't on purpose. They were okay. Respectable, you know, and so you could bring your wife and your kids and it would be clean. And, and I think Rogers and Hammerstein and the showboat, you know, Jerome Kern are direct descendants of totally shows.

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. You can't quotes sometimes, you know, Andrew Lloyd Weber and, and Sondheim will have directly quoted. Sullivan. So it's like, yes, yes. Let's talk about

Morgan: central coast, Gilbert and Sullivan. What led you to start this, this project, this organization? Well,

Marcy: I've been obviously Gilbert and Sullivan obsessed my whole life.

And I, my dream was that Gilbert and Sullivan met a man named Richard Doyley cart in the 1800s. And he formed a company, the Doyley cart opera company just to perform their works. And when I was young, that company was still in existence. So it was my dream to go and sing for them, but unfortunately they, they went out of business in the eighties.

So I was kind of out of luck. I had always had it in the back of my mind to form a company like that, that just did Gilbert and Sullivan and did it traditionally. And actually Cass, Cass, Cassandra Tarantino, who I think you probably know her choir was doing a, we're dear friends and her choir up in Paso was doing a Pirates of Penzance medley.

And she asked me to come up there and, and, you know, talk to them about it. And it was actually her, I'd always had it in my mind. And she's like, you know, you should really start your own company because you're so into it. And I like, I have often thought about that, but I don't even know how to start to do something like that.

And she's like, I'll help you. And poof. Yeah. The next year, I think. That's amazing.

Morgan: What is it that excites you so much about Gilbert and Sullivan?

Marcy: You know, it's really hard to say. I had the albums when I was a kid, you know, and little kid, and I just loved it. I loved the music, was so happy, I think, and I loved the words.

I've learned so much vocabulary, you know, even before I knew what the words meant. I loved them. They were big and fun to say, and I loved the characters. What are some good words? Oh, my gosh, that's on the spot. Sorry. I'm just wondering,

Morgan: are they juicy Victorian phrases

Marcy: that we don't use anymore? He's pretty wordy, actually.

I mean, a lot of people that are introduced to him is like, wow, that's a lot of work of big words, but well, modern major general, right? Is that's,

Morgan: that's them,

Marcy: right? Yeah. Yeah. I think any

Morgan: theater kid. If you did theater, you probably know modern major general, it was the standard warm up for getting your

Marcy: going.

Right. And that's kind of the whole point of it is a whole bunch of big words all strung together. Yeah, yeah, yeah, that's, oh, that's funny. And I think because it's happy. You know, I could dance around to it, and I loved the costumes and the whole theater thing. I just loved it. I don't know. Do you have

Morgan: experience with theater also?

Marcy: I have done, personally, some musical theater. Not too many, like, non musical things, although I did props in high school. Sure.

Morgan: I'm just thinking here you are starting this production company. Like there's a lot that goes into staging. How did you even

Marcy: start approaching quite a bit of musical theater, actually, and I had done a lot of opera opera choruses and that kind of thing.

I love theaters, I just love being in them. And so actually we. Because Cassie and I were both musicians we hired Elaine Fournier, who was part of the Cuesta drama department, to actually make sure we were doing the theater part right. Nice. Building sets and things. It was brand new to me, you know, finding a set designer and a lighting person and a sound person and a this and that and costumes and yeah, it was big.


Morgan: So where do, how does it work with the staging? Where do you perform and, and how does that, like, how do you, how do they allow you to take over

Marcy: their theater for however long? Yeah. Well, I'm, I'm on the Quest to Music faculty but we are actually part of the community programs that does, you know, community outreach.

And so we do get a discount on using the CPAC Performing Arts Center. And we also get free rehearsal space here at the Music Building. So that's super lucky. We couldn't do it without that. Yes. That's really expensive to rent those spaces. Yes. So,

Morgan: so when you build a set, I'm just, I'm on sets right now.

Just trying to think like how this would work. So when you build a set Are you, how, how do you do the, do you do the design or how do you conceptualize what you want it to look like?

Marcy: No, actually sets are the hardest part. We fi hire someone to do that. So we find a set designer, usually from a local community theater program that designs it and hopefully they live somewhere they can build it.

This year, actually it's being designed by a student of the set program at the theater department. Nice. And the theater class is building our set as their project. Which is great. It's super deep . Yeah, I love that and, which is great 'cause it's already in the theater, so all we have to do is put it on stage, we don't have to transport it here and all that kind of stuff.

Yes, yes, yes. Do you have giant trucks, ? We rent giant trucks. We rent giant trucks. Everyone in the company that has a pickup truck comes and helps and we rent a ratty old shed out on the National Guard base behind campus and we store them all there. Oh my goodness. So what about,

Morgan: okay, what about costumes then?

So that the times that I've seen, I mean, these are like costumes, like, like ball gowns

Marcy: and like. They are. I love them. I love them so much. We've had several costume designers over the years. Karen Rusu is from up in Paso is our current costume. She's fantastic. And she just loves doing the research and I show her the pictures of what.

You know what it looked like and, and she builds them most of the time. So, yeah. This is amazing.

Morgan: How do you decide, like, can you walk me through what it's like to stage an entire production, starting with, like,


And here's a question too, because When I was reading up on them before our conversation here, I mean, they, they wrote a decent number of shows together, but not an infinite number

Marcy: of shows.

Morgan: How do you choose which ones to do? How do you look at the future of your organization and, and kind of plan out your seasons?

And then when you go to execute, like what, tell

Marcy: me all of the things. Yeah, there's only 14 of them total. And what we've been doing, we started with Pinafore because it's one set and it's, you know, pretty compact. So what we've been doing is doing an unusual one followed by a popular one. So we do a new one about every other year because obviously Pirates of Penzance brings in money and then you do a weird one the next year and it doesn't, so it keeps us afloat to switch them out.

And so since there's three or four that are quite popular, we've just been alternating those. When we get to the end, I don't quite know what we're going to do. We might expand into some musical theater or we might just keep cycling. We'll see. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Morgan: Yeah. Okay. So you've chosen, you've chosen, let's say you're doing a popular one this time.

Huh. So you've chosen that. What, what is your, what happens? What can you, like, I have no clue what goes into all of these moving pieces. What is your life

Marcy: at this? Well, as soon as I choose the opera I start casting it to make sure that we have a cast. And I, we just have the best group of people on the whole planet.

And so I, I sometimes audition and sometimes not, cause I know what singers we've got. So I cast it. We hire a set designer, and we tell the costume designer what we're doing and who else do we do right away? We have a props person who handles all the props we start negotiating with the theater.

We do it in the summer, in June, so school's over. So that's how we get our dates. Nice. Nice. Yeah. So yeah, it's, it's just a mess of stuff. We have by now a pretty established group of people. So you know, Paul Osborne, who I know you've talked to does our, our chorus master, Jennifer Martin conducts our live orchestra.

So we, we have a staff basically in place now. That we go. Yeah. Nice. So you're the puppet master. I kind of am. Yes.

I coordinate everybody. And then I actually do the directing. I was lucky enough to sing in a professional Gilbert and Sullivan company right out of college. And they were the same kind of idea. They did very traditional productions. And so some of that I borrow the staging from them. And some of it, the traditions of sort of like movements and business can go back all the way to Gilbert.

So I use some of those and some of it, we just add it, make it up. Yeah.

Morgan: So when you talk about traditional versus not, what would examples of each of those be?

Marcy: Well, for instance, the copyrights expired in the 1960s. Before that you had to do it the official way. And then for instance, Mikado right after the copyrights expired, there was the hot Mikado and the jazz Mikado and the, this, the mat and all these, you know, different, you know, things.

Different kinds of productions and there's a place for that there really is, but I really like to keep it traditional myself. Sure. Yeah. People can basically do whatever they want to with them now. Sure,

Morgan: sure, sure. So then the costumes probably also, cause I know sometimes theater production companies will put like a modern spin on things, but you're, you're saying like there's ladies in ball gowns and

Marcy: our pirates.

The Doily Cart Company, you know, did them in a certain way. And so I, I try to make them look like that. So for instance, our Pirates of Penzance has great big hoop skirts. And yeah, yeah. And I really think it's funny when they're, you know, tromping around the beach in their giant dresses and it adds to the funny.

I think. I think

Morgan: so too. That was the one I've seen my friend in Pirates of Penzance and yes, she, she had, she had to learn how to walk in a hoopskirt. It's not the same. The sense of balance

Marcy: is all different. And getting up and down, if you end up kneeling and have to get up, it's, it's tricky. Yes. Oh my gosh.

I didn't even think about that. You could certainly couldn't sit down. But we've actually, we've formed a Dickens. Yeah. Sitting down is tricky. We formed a Dickens caroling group. And we go out at Christmas in our Pirates of Penzance costumes with our hoops and everything and, and Christmas Carol.

That's one of our fundraisers. That's amazing. Get a good use out of them. That's good. Yeah. Do you do

Morgan: you own all of this? Does the company own

Marcy: all of this stuff? We do actually own it. It costs us 30, 000 to put on a production. So we fundraise that. And then, yeah, we, we, like I said, we have a weird storage shed out in the back and all the costumes and sets and props and music are all in there.

Wow. That's awesome. It is. It's a good feeling. Sometimes I just walk in there and I'm just like, this is our stuff. Yeah. Yeah. It's a lot of fun. ,

Morgan: So let's talk about it seems like there is kind of this like world of Gilbert and Sullivan organizations. And, and it's hard to tell just from like, again, researching ahead of a conversation versus actually living in it.

Is it really a whole community like that of these organizations or are they all kind of doing their own things across the world? Cause there seems to be a lot of them. And some of them talk about, about like renting or, or kind of sharing items and sets and things. Is that actually how it works?

Marcy: There's actually a ton of them way more than you would think. There is an international Gilbert and Sullivan festival that happens in England every year. I'm dying to go and, and yeah, they, they will rent out costumes and sets and even like, we'll hire an orchestra because, you know, people from all over the world come and you don't want to have to fly all your stuff to England.

So yeah, they run out and yeah, people do kind of work together if they're local. And send each other costumes and sets and that kind of stuff. Do you do that with other groups too? I have loaned out a lot of our costumes to other groups, even other not non Gilbert and Sullivan groups, which have made, you know, a Victorian something.

Yeah, nice. Yeah. Opera slow. And us, we will often trade stuff. So yeah, it's a nice resource.

Morgan: So again, I, I'm not, I've not really spent a lot of time performing in operas. I've done a few musicals and I had a really, really, really fun time in them, but it's just not something I've done a lot of,

so I'm just picturing again, I'm just really stuck on this ball gown thing. So, so my friend was in the ball gown. She's a certain, she's a certain person. And then if I were to go in the ballgown, I'm a very differently shaped person. Like, it seems like costumes must like, I mean, I know that things that items can be altered, but it just seems like a lot.

Marcy: Yeah, so when we When we start in April, the costumer shows up and measures everybody. And then she either needs to make them their own dress or yeah, if they're a funny size, then that she makes one or we do adjust them and costumers are magic. Like they know how to make them with extra fabric and all this stuff so they can bring them in and out easily.

Sure. Theater magic. Yeah. Wow. Oh

Morgan: man, I guess I just secretly really want to wear a ball gown.

Marcy: I think you should come and sing with us. Sounds like you need a dress. Sounds like. I do need a dress. My sister went to an opera ball. She borrowed one of our great big dresses with the wig and the whole bit.

Yeah. You can come on anytime you want. Amazing. I might do that.

Gilbert and Sullivan were quite the pair. Did you know that phrases like, let the punishment fit the crime, and what never, well hardly ever, are in our vernacular because of these productions? I have some really fun tidbits I'm sharing in my newsletter next week. Head over to zeitgeistacademy. com slash radio to join us.

Marcy: I just want, I would like to mention that my grandmother, my grandma Tilly, who's my dad's, who was my dad's mother, she loved Gilbert and Sullivan, and she passed it on to my dad and he passed it on to me.

And when I was very young. I, you can't see them, they're back here, but I used to stage the operas with my Fisher Price people in my playroom, so I would put on the album, and I had a whole cast. Of Fisher Price people and I would set up books to make and I would stage all the operas and so now I tease my cast.

I'm like, you guys have arms because you know, when we were kids, they didn't have arms. So I'm like, I know where you should stand and what you should look like, but I don't know what to do with your arms. And so they, they are always making fun of me and doing weird arm things. Oh my gosh. That's funny.

This has been such an amazing experience to work with real actual people. Not Fisher Price dolls. Although, you know, they were singing along to the recording. So they sounded great.

Morgan: That's true. And I imagine people have attitudes sometimes.

Marcy: Sometimes, you know, there's some adventures there are, but it's been incredible.

And I'm so lucky. The group of people, There's so many singers in this town. You know, for a town this size to have this kind of musical life kind of silly. It is kind of, isn't it weird? Yeah, it is. Before I moved here, I lived in Reno, which is a much bigger city, but there wasn't nearly this vocal talent that we have here.

Yeah. I don't think I could have started this company there.

Morgan: Yeah. Well, and acts, I feel like access is like, There's, there's funding, there's access, there's like a very well trained audience that likes to go out and go to live

Marcy: music. It's true. Yeah. Yeah.

Morgan: Yeah. What are some of your favorite shows or favorite moments in

Marcy: shows?

Oh, gosh. You know, actually everyone thinks of the Patterson's like modern major general and stuff. I think of Gilbert and Sullivan, and I really like to point out to people the moments that aren't that, that are, are beautiful and real and, you know, love duets and, and there's some just gorgeous arias.

And I like to say, look, you know, it's not all that in between that there's like amazing ensembles and there's just beautiful, true moments and I think those are my favorites. Some of the soprano arias where, you know, they just, she stops and sings and it's like, oh, yeah. Yeah. Opera we're doing this year is probably the most serious.

And it's just got some gorgeous choral music in it. Yeah. Tell me a little bit

Morgan: about that. There's been a lot of folks talking about it.

Marcy: Yes. Yeah. Yeah, this year we're doing the yeoman of the guard, which is, I'd say it's B level popular, you know, it's not the most never heard of it. Oh yeah. See, most people have it.

Sullivan really wanted to be a well respected classical composer. But he was most famous for writing these comic operas. And so he kept begging for a serious libretto that he could, you know, with death and like normal operas. And so Gilbert finally wrote him something that was not entirely serious.

It's got some really funny stuff in it, but it is a little bit more, musically hefty than some of the other ones and there is a death at the end which is tragic. It's very sad. Very

Morgan: sad. Yeah. That is, that is opera.

Marcy: It is. I mean, almost every grand opera has some death at the end. Yeah. Yeah. I was very satisfied with it.

How did

Morgan: you decide that you wanted to do this

Marcy: one? Well, actually, this is my sister. I have a younger sister. She's a year and a half younger than me. And this is her very, very favorite. She likes the tragic and she's been saying for years. Why haven't you done yeoman? Why haven't you done yeoman? And I'm like, okay, this is the year.

Nice. Does she sing with you? She might come down and sing this one because it's her favorite but normally, no, she lives in the Bay Area. Oh, okay. Yeah. Yeah. , so here's

Morgan: a, a question that is a little more local to my listeners are all over, but I'm here in San Luis Obispo as, as. Many of you know this just from the, the people I've had I've only lived here for coming up on three years as of this recording and already, like so many of my guests have been people here.

Like I, like my network just went poof, so many amazing people, amazing musicians in San Luis Obispo. It almost gets to where it's a bit of a logistical challenge because there's so many places to sing, so many places to perform, and it is a lot of work to do a theatrical production where you have to memorize lines and memorize movements and not just, you know, hold a score.

So how do you work with other other people in the

Marcy: community when it comes to this. Well, actually, when I first started this part of the point was to give local singers a chance to do roles. Sure. I was singing in opera slow in the chorus there when I first moved here and there were incredible voices in that group, but they never got to, you know, stand up on their own.

And so I thought there's enough singers here, you know, to, to absolutely do this. And so it was to give local singers a chance. I did work directly with opera slow to make sure that we didn't conflict with them because it was a lot of the same singers. And then I, you know, I had been in master crawl for many years.

And so I recruited people out of there and I had all the quest acquires to work with. And, you know, my friend Cassie directs the North County chorus. And so, yeah, there in Kanzona and then resonance. And so there's so many groups, you're right. You have to really time it so that you don't interfere. And take singers.

Do you take that into account?

Morgan: I mean, you're in several of these groups, so you must take that

Marcy: schedule into account. There are some conflicts with, say, like the Master Chorale concert is going to happen during our music rehearsals and you just have to, you know, let the Master Chorale people go, including me and just carry on because there's no way to avoid everybody.

Yeah, they'll do a show.


Morgan: Yeah. Do your productions typically kind of have the same number of people? Like, you said you have kind of your base how do you get, I mean there's gonna be turnover and people can't do a season or whatever how do you do that? Because you said you don't really do auditions.

Marcy: Yeah, we started out with about, 15 people in it. Which we were just so amazed that we got a show on stage. We were just so happy. Yeah, and it now we have about 35 to 40 people every year. It depends on the opera like next year is Pirates of Penzance. And all the men want to be pirates that we're going to have like 20 men next year.

And then it'll, you know, the, they won't maybe come back because the next year they don't get to be pirates. So, you know, it, it fluctuates a little year to year. Yeah. Iolanthe, all the women get to be fairies. So we had an explosion of women that year. So, I mean, I'm sure you've heard me at master crawl.

I usually just go around and talk to people and harass them until they join. Yeah, that's my technique.

Morgan: So you identify, do you go, do you go by voice or personality or both?

Marcy: Both. Well, you know, there's a lot of people like you said that want to hold the score. They're scared of the idea of getting up and maybe acting or, yeah, I think to dance a little or something.

And so, you know, that's a hard barrier to get through a lot of times. That's why this year I said, you know, you just have to stand there with your spear and saying you don't have to do goofy things. I don't know. Usually you can tell the people that are going to be willing to get up and do that. You know, yeah, more silly or outgoing.

Yeah. Yeah. Once they've done it, they get hooked. Thankfully. Yeah. So most people do come back year after year. Nice.

Morgan: And then that also helps give a sense of stability because I know that another in in other Organizations can be a little like pick and choose. People get a little choosy, like, Oh, I'll do this one, but I don't like that one.

So I'm not going to sing that one. But you need to know that you can rely on these people. They show up year after year.

Marcy: And I love that they want to know what the next opera is and that that's true. Right. No, none of them have ever heard of the Omen of the Guard, but they're willing to just do it. You know, they're just trusting that it's going to be fun and interesting.

And that, I think that's amazing, you know. Yes. Because when we do the, the less popular ones, they're like, okay, we're doing it. We don't know anything about it. And then they listen to it and they learn it. And then there's a whole group of people that know Gilbert and Sullivan that didn't know it before.

So. Yes. That's really special. Are you ever in the shows as well? Very rarely. Last year, our our Alto got COVID and I stepped in and did it. And I, as a 50th birthday present to myself, I did do the lead, the Alto role that year, but those are the only times, unless a bunch of Altos get sick or something, then I'll jump in.

Do you miss that? Sometimes. Yeah. For me now, it's a lot less stressful to direct it because I don't have to worry about what my voice is doing. You know, the state that my voice is in, I can just, you know, I can sit back and watch. Sure. I love, I love both. Yeah. Yeah.

Morgan: And how involved are you? I mean, you're obviously extremely musical.

How involved are you in musical decisions? You mentioned that you have a conductor who works with the orchestra and then Paul makes works with the chorus. Are you involved with that too?

Marcy: Pretty much. Well, I already know what I want the music to sound like, because I want to do it the way the Doilincourt Company did it, which is the way I hear it in my head.

And, and so I do kind of tell the conductor here's how I want it. Yeah. But, you know, I'm not, I'm not an instrumentalist in any way. So she takes care of all the orchestral rehearsals and all that kind of stuff. Nice. And then who conducts during the show? Jennifer Martin does it. Yeah. During the show also?

Huh. Huh. Nice. We have an orchestra pit here at the CPAC, which is super lucky. So we have about a 17 to 18 person live orchestra and she conducts it. Yeah. You know, that's another

Morgan: amazing thing about this place is there's venues. That's not always the case elsewhere. Yes. There's a, there's venues, there's a stage with an orchestra pit that a community organization can use.

Marcy: Isn't that amazing?

Morgan: Yeah. There's these missions that, that the Resonance Ensemble sings, and there's the pack. For the, you know, the bigger groups, like, yeah, there's so many places around here to perform. It's incredible. Do

Marcy: you ever

Morgan: go out and about and do, you mentioned the Dickens caroling. That's so fun.

Do you ever do other stuff like that?

Marcy: That is something we're looking at doing. We would really like to do some education outreach where we go into like elementary schools. Yeah. Cause I, you know, I loved it as a little kid and I think they would too. So we are kind of putting that together. And sometimes we'll do like a highlight show like the magic of Gilbert and Sullivan night or whatever.

Yeah. Victorian singing Valentines. That would be a great, great idea. But see, opera slow does a Valentine thing. So I try not to step on other people, you know? Yeah. That would be funny. Show up in your hoop skirt and sing a ballad. There's tons of songs about love and happiness. Oh yes.

Yes. That would be funny. What

Morgan: overall. Do you wish that people knew more about Gilbert and Sullivan just as a, as a culture?

Marcy: Well, honestly I just wish more people knew who they were. You know, I, I, when we go around like to hang posters or do publicity, so many people have just never heard of them.

And I, even musicians, you know, because they're completely ignored in music school, you know as a, as a, you know,

Morgan: I did not learn. I mean, I, I, I know who they are, but I'm trying to think why I knew who they are. Cause I don't think I learned about them

Marcy: in college. Mm hmm. Yeah. Were you a voice major? I was a piano major.

Oh, oh my gosh. Cool. Yeah. So yeah, as a singer, like your teacher would roll your eyes, roll their eyes at you if you mentioned Gilbert and Sullivan. And so I, I'd really like to change that.

Morgan: It's funny cause it is opera. Like it is,

Marcy: right? I think so. But of course. You're not belting. Most teachers are like, oh, Gilbert and Sullivan, you know.

Yeah. mauler. Why do you think that

Morgan: is? Cause the technique would be the

Marcy: same. Absolutely. I think so. Yeah. I think because it's light. I don't know. I honestly don't know. They think I think they think of it as musical theater, which, you know, they don't want to teach you in your lessons. I don't know, but that's 1 of my projects is to get more musicians interested in it, but also just to get the general public to know who they were, you know, that they exist.


Morgan: yeah. How do you, how do you do that? I mean, how would you, what would you think is the most exciting or inspiring? What would get people to come or to, to learn more?

Marcy: Well, actually Pirates of Penzance has been really useful for us because people have heard of it. Even if they don't know who Gilbert and Solomon are.

They know, they've maybe heard of the Pirates of Penzance. So you could always go out and say, these are the people that wrote the Pirates of Penzance. And they wrote a bunch of other stuff too, you know, and come and see it and listen to it. And yeah, hopefully, hopefully we get people that are new to it.

Come. Yeah, it is.

Morgan: It is a pretty magical place. I mean, I've, I've seen, I've seen a handful, like I mentioned, I haven't seen a ton, but It is definitely an interesting space that they live in where they, there are, like you mentioned there are moments where they actually kind of get a little philosophical.

Huh. They have some musings on life and also culture, which is interesting because those musings are relevant. Which I find odd. Like, it's like, this was a Victorian era musical, but people are people through the years. And we still find the same things funny. We still find the same thing, like, yeah, it's very

Marcy: interesting.

The jokes are still funny. They're still funny. That's wild to me. Yeah. And Gilbert was often satirizing sections of British society then. So he'd be making fun of the government or the military or something. And that does still, that still plays, you know, making government is still funny. So, yeah. A lot of them really do still work, even though they're British, you know?

Yeah. They cross. They cross over. Yeah. Yeah,

Morgan: they do. Yeah. Amazing. So you do, do you know what zeitgeist means? You must I

Marcy: well, yes, vaguely. I, I'm glad you sent me that little note. So zeitgeist, spirit

Morgan: of the times it's the feeling, the collective feeling of an era and all, all sorts of things go into the feeling of zeitgeist.

Like you know, what the technology is, what the gossip is, what the, you know, just the feeling of what it's like to be alive at any particular point in time. And one of the moments, there's so many ways that people can connect with music, but one of the ones that I love the most is when I feel like I'm part of something bigger.

I'm part of a movement. I'm part of like, I get it. It clicks into place for me. Like, Oh yeah. Like when, so that's what I would call a zeitgeist moment. What would be a, either a recent or a memorable zeitgeist moment that you have

Marcy: had? I think that I honestly, I feel that being a part of the music scene in this town, I feel like we're such a community and there's this circle of people that all kind of move together through all of these musical groups and being a part of that.

Yeah. I feel a connection, you know, to something bigger. Like we're, we're this big glob of musicians making all of this music. All over, and it's, it's a pretty great feeling to have become a part of that. Absolutely.

Morgan: And it's true because I, I, I run into

Marcy: you everywhere. We have. Right, exactly.

Morgan: So I can I'm again I'm fairly new to the area here still but I'm definitely I can see.

Catch a little glimpse into what you're talking about where, and some of the places I see you are places I see a few other people too, like consistently. So

Marcy: it's kind of a cliche to call it a family, but it does kind of feel like that. Yeah. Like a little more than a regular friendship when you see people three or four nights a week at various rehearsals.

And then, you know, of course in CCGNS, we spend so much time together. over months. Yes. It's an amazing experience together of doing a show and it's, it really is a close knit kind of thing. Yeah.

Morgan: The time, so I didn't do a lot of, I did a few not so well known musicals, but when I finally did get into theater, that was the number one thing that like choir and theater.

The community that happens, there's just nothing like it. There's nothing like there's the connection and you spend hours and hours and hours and hours with these people. Yes.

Marcy: Yes. Yep. Yeah. And then, you know, when the show ends or the concert is over, it's like, where are they? I don't, you know, you, you don't see them for a week or two.

Yes. What? Yeah.

Morgan: Yes. Yes. Well, I'll share, I'll share a Zeitgeist moment that is memorable to me. And it's kind of what we were, we were just talking about which was going to see my friend.

This wasn't a Gilbert and Sullivan specifically, but it was Candide, which is another comic opera.

And. There's a soprano. Song where, she keeps going happiness, happiness.

Marcy: Do you know what that one is? No, I don't.

Morgan: . And just the way that it jumps up like that, you're hearing the word penis, but it's, you know, happiness, but it's ha, ha, penis, penis, penis.


Marcy: I remember she was working

Morgan: on it. And I was, we were all, you know, in our late twenties and we were just dying. This is so funny to us. So then of course we got to go see her in this show. She got a leading role. She was very, she did a wonderful, wonderful job. And, and that scene, that scene was so funny.

And I just remember watching them perform this. I just remember feeling like This was written like 200 years ago.

Marcy: Huh. And this joke is still funny and it's a

Morgan: way like we connect I think to people or to music like like we're singing Rachmaninoff right now.

It's beautiful and and just like there's there's these feelings of like wow and glorious and so like

Marcy: divine.

Morgan: But there's this side of humanity, too, that laughs at penis jokes, like, in the Victorian era, and we're laughing at us now, laughing at it now,

Marcy: and

Morgan: I just remember so appreciating that, that, that humor.

Has lasted and there's this connection and just people are, people are people, no matter what

Marcy: century they live in. Well, like the fair Phyllis Magical, we were singing last night. Yes. Right. Which was written hundreds of years ago. And it's like up the up and down, up and down thing is still funny. It's so funny.

Yes. Yeah. So the same thing. I think

Morgan: it's history has a tendency to get Dusty. . Uhhuh, . Yeah. And I think maybe that's one thing about Gilbert and Sullivan is. They're not dusty. They're

Marcy: not. They're still funny. Yeah. Yeah. I just saw one the other night hearing the audience laugh at the jokes, you know, all this, all this time later is like, yes.

Yes. Yes. Yeah. We still get it. It's funny. It's yeah, amazing. Well, Marcy, thank

Morgan: you so much for hanging out with me and talking about

Marcy: Gilbert and Sullivan. . Of course. Paul Osborne always laughs at me. He's like, Oh, you're going to talk about Gilbert and Sullivan some more.

Thanks for tuning in to this episode of Zeitgeist Radio. If you'd like to take the next step in your musical journey, head over to zeitgeistacademy. com slash radio to join my newsletter. Seriously. It's fun and informative, and I never spam or sell your information. That's zeitgeistacademy. com slash radio.

Music for this episode was created by Ian Boswell. Please hit that subscribe button and tell all your friends you found a cool new podcast. See you next time.

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