Dingmans Ferry – Saturday was a rainy Saturday at Akenac Park, but inside the Dingmans Ferry Theater were tea, cookies, sandwiches and a happy group of about 50 people all involved in theater and the arts.
They were hosted by Emer Day, Founder and President of the Sylvania Gilbert and Sullivan (G&S) Society. This newly formed company is for people who love G&S to sing, participate and enjoy G&S operettas. Emer invited people to volunteer in a variety of ways, making costumes, sets, producing, front stage, back stage, and organizing. They plan to have a full operetta a year and have chosen Pirates of Penzance for 2023. They also want to do a “shortened” Pirates weekend – a Saturday matinee for children and their families. There will be a fundraiser in August with various G&S songs.
“The show of interest and support over the past few months has been energizing,” Emer said. “I think it demonstrates people’s desire to experience live music and theater as a community.”
She invited people to mingle and talk about their favorite G&S operas, or take the stage and sing a song of their choice with Guy Henderson on piano to accompany them. The G&S Company will have its meetings and rehearsals at the Dingmans Ferry Theatre.
The Dingmans Ferry Theater group was also present. Dennis Lee, the theater’s artistic director, clarified that while the theater is a nonprofit 501C3, like the G&S Group, they are two separate businesses. People call the theater Dennis’ Theater because he himself renovated the theater from top to bottom and even built the stage. Akenac owns the property, but the building belongs to Dennis.
The theater group will be having a fundraiser at the end of July: a golf outing to Cliff Park with hot dogs and burgers. There will also be a gala at PEEC in the fall. While their summer and fall lineup is yet to be set in stone, they will have another Sinatra show. They did one last year with Jim Manfredonia as Sinatra, and it was a huge hit. Manfredonia will return in August – this time with a live orchestra and daughter Angela playing the roles of Liza Minelli and Judy Garland. The theater troupe will perform “Our Town” the last two weekends of July and “the Beetles” will perform in late August or early September.
Dennis Lee is the force behind the theater, and his energy seems boundless. He is also running for re-election as Delaware Township Auditor. Lee has served on the township board and he has also produced and directed documentaries on the history of Dingmans Ferry. He also served on the board of the Black Bear Film Festival. It is clear that the members of Dingmans Ferry Theater Group embrace him and the sense of community he has created that they all appreciate.
Operettas, Gilbert and Sullivan style
Gilbert and Sullivan wrote most of their operettas in England between 1872 and 1892. These operettas are like a cross between classical opera and musicals. G&S operettas are known for their clever comic lyrics, often with satirical statements about the politics of the day. In fact, many G&S groups insert their own words on the politics of the day. There are hundreds of S&S Societies all over the UK and USA celebrating the works of these two men and performing their various operettas each year. In this top ten below, the first three are the most played
Pirates of Penzance
The Yeomen of the Guard
Trial by jury