Dingmans Ferry – Saturday was a rainy Saturday at Akenac Park but Dingmans Ferry Theater had tea, biscuits, sandwiches and a happy group of about 50 people, all involved in theater and the arts.
They were greeted by Emer Day, Founder and President of the Sylvania Gilbert and Sullivan (G&S) Society. This newly established society is for people who enjoy G&S to sing, participate and enjoy G&S operettas. Emer invited people to volunteer in a variety of ways, making costumes, sets, production, frontstage, backstage, and organization. They are planning a full operetta a year and have chosen Pirates of Penzance for 2023. They also want to host a weekend of “abridged” pirates – a Saturday matinee for children and their families. This August there will be a fundraiser with various G&S songs.
“The interest and support shown over the past few months has been stimulating,” said Emer. “I think it shows 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 to come on stage and sing a song of their choice with Guy Henderson at the piano to accompany them. The G&S Society will hold their meetings and rehearsals at Dingmans Ferry Theater.
The group Dingmans Ferry Theater was also in attendance. Dennis Lee, the theater’s artistic director, made it clear that while the theater is a non-profit 501C3, like the G&S group, they are two separate companies. People refer to the theater as Dennis’ Theater because he renovated the theater himself from top to bottom and even built the stage. Akenac owns the land, but Dennis owns the building.
The theater group will be hosting a fundraiser in late July — a golf outing at Cliff Park complete with hot dogs and burgers. There will also be a gala at PEEC in autumn. While their summer and fall line-up isn’t set in stone yet, they will have another Sinatra show. They did one last year with Jim Manfredonia as Sinatra and it was hugely successful. Manfredonia will return in August – this time with a live orchestra and his daughter Angela playing the roles of Liza Minelli and Judy Garland. On the last two weekends in July, the theater group will play “Unsere Stadt” again, and at the end of August/beginning of September they will play “Die Käfer”.
Dennis Lee is the force behind the theater and his energy seems boundless. He is also running for re-election as the chartered accountant for Delaware Township. Lee served on the township board and also produced and directed documentaries about the history of Dingmans Ferry. He also served on the board of directors of the Black Bear Film Festival. The members of Dingmans Ferry Theater Group clearly rally around him and the sense of community he created which they all enjoy.
Gilbert and Sullivan style operettas
Gilbert and Sullivan wrote most of their operettas in England between 1872 and 1892. These operettas are like a mixture of classical opera and musical. G&S operettas are known for their cleverly funny lyrics, often with satirical statements about current politics. In fact, many G&S groups insert their own words about the politics of the day. There are hundreds of S&S companies across the UK and US celebrating the works of these two men and performing their various operettas each year. In this top ten below, the first three are listed most often
Pirates of Penzance
The Yeomen of the Guard
process by the jury