So here’s something to think about as we prepare to move into tech week for “The Grand Duke”…..
“Score” is an archaic way of saying “twenty.” You know, like Lincoln’s famous “four score and seven years ago” — which meant “87 years ago.”
Six Score was called a Hundred. So, for a long time a “Hundred” was 120. Then we moved to the ten-based system of counting and the modern Hundred (100) was born. During the transition period between the two systems 120 was called a “Long Hundred”.
Why am I telling you this?
1776. A bunch of colonists rebelled against the tyranical and arguably insane King George.
1896 (120 years, or Six Score, or a Long Hundred later). Gilbert and Sullivan wrote a fictional account of squabbling actors getting themselves into all sorts of trouble as they attempt to overthrow a despised despot in “The Grand Duke”. The story involves duels, deceit, jealousy, betrayals, and multiple love interests for one aspiring politician.
2016 (another 120 years later). Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical “Hamilton” swept the Tony Awards and became an indelible part of our cultural landscape. It also features duels, deceit, jealousy, betrayals, and multiple love interests for one aspiring politician.
2016 was also an election year, as you may recall, and the cast of “Hamilton,” in a stunning moment of life imitating art, caused a bit of an uproar when they publicly and poetically spoke to the powers that be.
Coincidence? You tell me.
But things do seem to happen in cycles. And I’m intrigued to find myself — right here and right now — in the midst of reviving this political musical comedy which was created at the halfway point between The American Revolution and the revolutionary “Hamilton.”
Am I saying that our production compares with “Hamilton”? Of course not. But it is interesting to note the many tangents and parallels between the two works; and to recognize how each of them touches on both historical and contemporary events.
I’m constantly finding echoes of the past in “The Grand Duke.” Both the past as Gilbert and Sullivan knew it, and the past as you and I know it (much of which would’ve been their future). I also see surprisingly relevant reflections of what’s happening in the world today.
So it’s historic, contemporary, and futuristic all at the same time.
And gold-loving despots with insane hair never seem to go out of fashion.
(Stuart Albert as “The Grand Duke”)