I have been going to the Seattle Gilbert and Sullivan’s Society since I was nine years old. I remember those first trips allll the way in to the city. I remember the dark, fancy restaurant where we ate – my relations boisterous recounting previous years’ productions or scouting escapades. (My grandparents were professional scouters, as were their friends.
Obviously, I have missed many years, what with the “living in Boston” bits. I’ve never seen Pinafore! Heavens! But this year it transpired that we were in Seattle for the annual trip – this year to see Ruddygore.
I am less intimidated by the whole process than I was as a girl. It was at G&S that my family renewed it’s friendship with my Godfather, who, during my high school years took me to see roughly one performance in Seattle once a week. (Yes, for four years.) He took me (and my siblings) to Ashland for the Shakespeare festival, to the Seattle Opera’s Ring Cycle. He had season tickets to four theaters in Seattle, and I accompanied him to them for years.
He was there this year for Ruddigore. But other beloved faces were missing. My Grandmother had continued going even after a surgery gone awry had robbed her of the use of most of her body. My Grandfather presided jovially at the table for several more years, until he also died. Most of my cousins, although local, have not chosen to continue attending. On the other hand, my nephew Baz sat rapt during the operetta, extending the performances to the fourth generation.
Yes, fourth generation. One thing I learned during this year’s dinner is that my family and my godfather have been attending the Seattle Gilbert and Sullivan society’s productions FOR 53 YEARS. Since 1958 or ’59.
What an awesome and enduring tradition! Without the previous generation, it can be hard for the siblings to stay together – stay in more contact than Facebook. But this tradition brought all four brothers together once again, with old family friends, to talk about what was, what is, and which G&S operetta is our favorite. (I’m caught between fan favorite Pirates of Penzance and Iolanthe, which is much funnier when seen in conjunction with Wagner’s Ring).
This production of Ruddygore was no disappointment. For a more obscure operetta, it had a goodly number of marquee numbers. The staging and cast were, as always, superb. And best of all were the friends and family!