The Savoy Company

The Grand Duke, or The Statutory Duel
May 10, Friday, 7:30pm
May 11, Saturday, 1:30pm & 7:30pm

Ticket prices: $25-$50
Note: Tickets are subject to $5 per ticket handling fee.

About The Grand Duke, or The Statutory Duel

If you love The Play That Goes Wrong and British comedy and farces, this is the operetta for you! This classic take on a ‘play within a play’ has hilarious turns and twists that will keep you riveted. A rollicking tale of love, politics, and mistaken identity, sprinkled with Gilbert’s razor-sharp wit and Sullivan’s enchanting melodies.

Without a shot being fired, confusion and hilarity reign as a troupe of actors takes political power overthrowing the government of the mean and miserly Grand Duke. Duels with weapons have been outlawed. A statutory duel has been instituted: the two disputants draw cards from a deck.  The person with the higher card wins. The person with the lower card becomes a legal ghost and all his relations (including fiancées), debts, bets, and obligations pass on to the winner.  After 24 hours, the “dead” man returns to life, and all will be well again, or will it?

Changing the setting to post-war Britain, this updated and revised version of the show will delight all ages. This gem of a show is rarely produced, and it has been thirty years since The Savoy Company last staged the show. Director Bill Kiesling has created a masterful comedy that sings under the outstanding direction of Peter Hilliard and the professional orchestra.

Historical Context, Setting and Story Background for The Grand Duke

1947 – A time of struggle in the United Kingdom. Although Britain prevailed in WW2, the nation continues to recover from the war.  Rationing of all sorts continues, and conditions are grim around the nation, as the country tries to make do and mend.

Britain looked for spots of happiness.  In July, 1947, Buckingham Palace announced the engagement of Princess Elizabeth to Prince Philip, with planned nuptials on November 20 of that year.

For this production, join The Savoy Company as they journey to 1947 when an amateur acting troupe (the Gilbert and Sullivan Players of Conksbury) is preparing a special theatrical event in celebration of the Princess’s engagement. Happily, and coincidentally, one of the members of the group has recently found what is believed to be an unpublished, and as yet unperformed, “final” version of The Grand Duke.

You are witness to the troupe’s opening night performance of The Grand Duke in the recreation hall of St. George the Mediocre, Conksbury’s local church. The story elements and the troupe are introduced to us by the energetic head of the troupe, setting the audience up for the comedy to follow. Plagued by the continued impact of rationing, and by the group’s limited funding, the troupe performs their production of The Grand Duke in a “traditional manner” as best they can, set in the 1860s. Production “mishaps” are fixed throughout the work by the troupe’s production team and, at the end, the troupe and audience joyously celebrate “Happy Couples, Lightly Treading”.

About The Savoy Company

Founded in 1901, The Savoy Company is America’s and the world’s oldest continuously performing theater company performing the works of Gilbert and Sullivan. The show is fully staged and features a gorgeous, professionally-designed set, beautiful hand-sewn costumes, and professional quality actors and singers backed by a professional orchestra. The Savoy Company’s unwavering commitment to preserving the authenticity and brilliance of these productions has cemented its reputation as the gold standard for Gilbert and Sullivan performances. The theatrical works of Gilbert and Sullivan remain extremely popular worldwide and are second only to the works of Shakespeare in the number of performances presented globally each year.

The Savoy performances at Longwood Gardens represent a cherished Philadelphia early summer tradition of magical performance under the stars with the fragrant scent of blossoming flowers in the air.  The tradition dates back to 1916 when Savoy was first invited to perform on stage in the garden theater by Pierre S. du Pont who then called Longwood Gardens his home.

“Let Every Heart Be Filled With Joy,  And Sing the Praise of Old Savoy.”