Gilbert and Sullivan

The Players and the Plays

By Kurt Gänzl

Subjects: Drama, Music, General Interest
Hardcover : 9781438485454, 298 pages, October 2021
Paperback : 9781438485461, 298 pages, July 2022

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Table of contents

List of Illustrations


1. Thespis

2. Trial by Jury

3. The Sorcerer

4. HMS Pinafore

5. The Pirates of Penzance

6. Patience

7. Iolanthe

8. Princess Ida

9. The Mikado

10. Ruddigore

11. The Yeomen of the Guard

12. The Gondoliers

13. Utopia (Limited)

14. The Grand Duke

Appendix: Recommended Reading


Highlights the original cast members—both the well-known and the (until now) wholly unknown—who staged the duo's comic operas in Britain and in America.


In this, the first book to focus on the original cast members of the classic Gilbert and Sullivan comic operas, world-renowned musical theater expert Kurt Gänzl provides a concise history of the writing and production of each opera, vividly colored by the often little-known life stories of these early performers. Meticulously researched and lavishly illustrated with rare photographs, Gilbert and Sullivan: The Players and the Plays delves into the professional and personal lives of the British and American actors and singers who created the celebrated "famous fourteen" Gilbert and Sullivan operas.

Kurt Gänzl, an award-winning authority on musical theater, is a former opera singer, theatrical agent, casting director, and theater and opera critic. He is the author of numerous books, including Encyclopedia of the Musical Theatre, The British Musical Theatre, Victorian Vocalists, and Gänzl's Book of the Broadway Musical.


"Gänzl's prose style makes an enjoyably readable narrative for anyone interested in musical theatrical history of the period." — CHOICE

"This book should be of interest to anyone with a love of theatre history. Obviously Gilbert and Sullivan fans will want it in their collections, but the myriad of information about so many artists in the late nineteenth century, who show up in a large variety of theatre and who interweave with many others who we have heard of, is in itself illuminating. Those who love theatre history should buy this book." — Theatre Heritage Australia

"Kurt Gänzl's knowledge of musical theatre is vast and authoritative … This is a book you can sit down and read from end to end if you feel like it. But, because it contains so many shortish biographical sketches, it is ideal for dipping into." — Sullivan Society Magazine

"Not only important, but utterly fascinating, thoroughly researched, as you would expect from this source, erudite, and a real pleasure to read! In fact what helps make this book so worthwhile is Kurt Gänzl's prose style: informative, intimate, chatty but precise, almost as if he has written the book especially for you: indeed as if he is actually talking to you." — Operetta Research Center