Guides for Musicals, Plays, Operas & Operettas

Read expert-written show guides with context, plot, characters and video examples.

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Pirates of Penzance

Gilbert and Sullivan’s most popular show, The Pirates of Penzance, is a rollicking, delightfully funny tale of a band of soft-tempered pirates. Mistakenly apprenticed to a pirate by his nursemaid Ruth at the age of eight, the handsome Frederic is now twenty-one and, though quite fond of the gro... read more

The Mikado

Since its premiere in 1885 at the Savoy Theatre in London, The Mikado has become one of the most-performed pieces of musical theatre in history. As with many of Gilbert and Sullivan’s productions, the show satirizes aspects of Victorian Britain’s politics and aristocracy; in The Mikado, however... read more

H.M.S Pinafore

Since its premiere in 1878, Gilbert and Sullivan’s wildly popular operetta H.M.S. Pinafore has delighted audiences with a nautically-tinged story of star-crossed lovers. The gentlemanly Captain Corcoran of the good ship Pinafore has a daughter, Josephine, who is in love with a lowly but gallant... read more

Die Fledermaus

On New Year’s Eve, Eisenstein is being forced to go to jail for punching a police officer, however decides to evade jail for one night so that he can go to Prince Orlofsky’s lavish party. Eisenstein wants to go with his friend Falke, so he tells his wife, Rosalinde, that he is heading off to jail... read more

The Gondoliers

The twelfth collaboration between composer Arthur Sullivan and librettist W.S. Gilbert, The Gondoliers   tells the story of two charming Venetian gondoliers, Giuseppe and Marco, who are informed that due to an error of identity when they were young boys, one of them is the heir to the throne of B... read more

Ruddigore, or The Witch’s Curse

Although Ruddigore’s 1887 premiere did not enjoy the same success as its predecessor, The Mikado , it is now regarded as one of the gems of the Gilbert and Sullivan canon. A satirical take on the Victorian Melodrama genre, Ruddigore’s zany plot has it all--ghosts, witches, curses, disguises, and... read more

Trial by Jury

Can you sue someone for breaking off an engagement? In Gilbert and Sullivan’s courtroom farce Trial by Jury, it’s a very serious crime The fickle and bigoted defendant, Edwin, has fallen in love with another woman and has jilted the plaintiff, the beautiful Angelina. Unfortunately for Edwin, a... read more

The Yeomen of the Guard

The Yeomen of the Guard, or The Merryman and His Maid is Gilbert and Sullivan’s sparkling comic opera set in Shakespearean times during the reign of King Henry VIII. It is the darkest and most emotionally engaging of the Savoy Operas. The show takes place in the Tower of London where the gentlema... read more

Iolanthe

Since its sparkling 1882 premiere at London’s new Savoy Theatre , the fantastical satire Iolanthe has delighted audiences with its clever combination of romance, humor, political satire, and the memorable musical numbers that made Gilbert and Sullivan household names. The titular character Iolan... read more

Patience, or Bunthorne’s Bride

All of the maidens in the village are besotted with Reginald Bunthorne, a moody and handsome poet, but he has eyes only for the simple milkmaid, Patience. The problem? Bunthorne’s artistic ways are all just an act to attract women to him--he doesn’t even like poetry Besides, Patience is in lov... read more