Congratulations to Brian Goodman, general manager, and the Young Victorian Theater Company on its 50 years of staging the operettas of Gilbert & Sullivan in Baltimore. Any time someone keeps anything — particularly a theater company — rolling for a half-century, attention must be paid. And keeping G&S on the summer stage as the decades sail by, as the loyal audience grows older and new audiences must be introduced to the 19th Century creators of “H.M.S. Pinafore” and “The Pirates of Penzance,” is no small feat.
I write this just as the YVTC finishes its 50th anniversary run of “Pirates” at Gilman School’s Alumni Auditorium. I had the good fortune years ago of roles in “Pirates,” “The Mikado,” “The Yeoman of the Guard,” “Iolanthe,” and “Pinafore,” and the good memories harvested from those productions last a lifetime.
Goodman was there at the start, when student productions at Gilman School blossomed into semi-professional theater that attracted excellent singers, music and artistic directors and solid orchestras. Young Vic has a permanent endowment. Goodman has steered the ship for 46 years. His daughter, Fallon, now helps with management. I wish them and the Young Vic board good luck, foresight and wisdom as they plot the company’s future in an ever-changing Baltimore.
There is by now a vast diaspora of Young Vicsters, as Goodman calls us — women and men who performed in leads and chorus over all these years, some of them first as high school or college students.
Others came to Young Vic in our 30s, 40s and 50s, and some who are older than that remain in the cast. I am sure that’s for the good reason best summed up in a line from my favorite movie, “My Favorite Year.”
In the 1982 film, the main character is Alan Swann, a soused and soured movie star played by Peter O’Toole, based loosely on Errol Flynn of Hollywood’s golden age. Swann, whose swashbuckling days are behind him, performs as a musketeer with a comedy troupe on a live 1950s TV show and he’s deeply moved by the experience. Says Swann: “This is the most fun and the hardest work I’ve done since the world was young.”
Carry on, Young Vicsters!