The Savoy Company

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The Savoy Company

Summer Series
The Savoy Company

Photo by Helga Yang

Helga Yang

Date & Price

Friday, May 31 and Saturday June 1, 2024 at 8:30 pm

Open Air Theatre


Reserved Seating: $29-$39

Gardens Preferred, Gardens Premium Members, and Innovators: $24-$34

Children (Ages 4 & under): Free

Ticket includes all-day Gardens Admission. Tickets limited. Sell out likely.

Explore the Entire Series

Our Summer Performance Series showcases the beauty of the performing arts in the beauty of our Gardens.

If you love The Play That Goes Wrong and British comedy and farce, 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.


About The Grand Duke

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 30 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.

Dark blue ad banner for The Grand Duke, to be performed by The Savoy Company at Longwood Gardens, with the acting company's seal, and a collage of everyday items depicting a character in the play.


Historical Context, Setting, and Story Background for The Grand Duke

1947: A time of struggle in the United Kingdom. Although Britain prevailed in World War II, 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 our production, join us as we 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.

We 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.”


More 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.

Find out more on their website