The Gilbert and Sullivan Society of Houston's summer production of The Sorcerer opens this Friday at the Wortham Theater Center's Cullen Theatre. In honor of the 100th anniversary of the inception of World War I, this show will be set in Edwardian times as the war is beginning to start, rather than the traditional 1880's setting. Fans of Downton Abbey will recognize the look and feel of the show, as well as the social structures between the various cast members who occupy higher or lower stations according to their occupation and situation of birth.
Director Alistair Donkin explains, "The Lord of the Manor – Sir Marmaduke Pointdextre – had a whole team of staff both within his house to look after his personal needs and on the Estate for the maintenance of his grounds and farms within which there was also an hierarchical structure mirroring his relationship with his workers. Housekeepers, Butlers, Maids, Footmen, Farmers, Labourers, Gardeners, Groomsmen, Milkmaids, Elders etc each had their individual role to play in this Social jigsaw. These workers relied on the Lord of the Manor for their employment and housing and, once retired, for their continuing housing and financial support. Audiences in the USA will be familiar with this arrangement from watching Downton Abbey or Upstairs Downstairs on TV.
"Each section of the community in this production are clearly costumed to show their social status and, in continuance of the tradition from the first production by the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company all the chorus have individual Character names. This symbiotic relationship allowed the survival of everyone in a typical British Village environment. Put simply, the Lord of the Manor could not survive without his staff, and his staff could not survive without the Patronage of the Lord of the Manor."
Aline, the bride in the show and the main female lead, is featured in a day dress and evening gown that would not look out of place on Lady Mary or Lady Sybil. The village band is wearing military uniforms resembling what British troops really wore during World War I, giving the idea that the changes to British estates that happen over the course of the first two seasons of Downton Abbey are about to happen to the villagers in The Sorcerer as well.
Tickets to The Sorcerer are available at www.hgns.org/tickets and by calling 281.724.8363. The show opens on Friday, July 18 and runs through Sunday, July 27. Tickets start at $39.