Gilbert Vs. Sullivan

With the titular characters played by women in drag, behold as Gilbert and Sullivan bicker, battle, and build some of the world’s best operetta. Follow the pair as they travel the globe withtheir faithful ensemble and on their most popular performances; from Pinafore to Ruddigore. This funny, irreverent and historically accurate show hits all the right notes for any audience. The flexible and expandable casting will help your entire ensemble shine.


Scene 1: Gilbert vs. Sullivan opens with Alfred Sellier playing the Ruddigore Overture while Gilbert and Sullivan listen from their stools, flanking the piano. Problems arise immediately, and the real-time ups and downs and rehearsals are laid bare. Richard D’Oyly Carte reports that HMS Pinafore was being produced without a license, and to solve the problem, they need to produce simultaneous authorized productions in New York and England. On top of that, Carte tasks them with penning a new play.


Scene 2: Gilbert & Sullivan take the chance to poke fun at the “Pinafore Pirates” by creating Pirates of Penzance. They rehearse this new show with all new challenges, including an attempted orchestra mutiny.


Scene 3: Gilbert & Sullivan triumphantly return to London, and their home theater The Savoy. They attempt to strike gold again with “Would You Know The Kind Of Maid”from Princess Ida, but are booed and pelted with vegetables. After the disastrous premiere, Gilbert and Sullivan take a break.


Scene 4: Gilbert attends the London’s famous 1885 Japanese village exhibition on Carte’s insistence, and is profoundly inspired. In limbo, Gilbert and Sullivan stand back to back, reading reconciliation letters to one another. Sullivan takes Gilbert up on the offer to collaborate on a new show, and they write The Mikado. More tumultuous rehearsals spring up, but the show is getting its legs. Baxendale earns her role as Katisha and Gilbert’s respect. Grossmith’s concerns about the word “titipu” are poo-pooed. Gilbert & Sullivan unite in a warmly nihilistic agreement that nothing matters, scored by the “My Eyes are Fully Open” Trio from Ruddigore.


10 player in total

1 Non-Speaking/Singing (Piano/Orchestra)

3 Speaking only

6 Singers


William Gilbert: Cheeky and antagonistic, with a hot temper (played by woman in male drag)

Arthur Sullivan: Hedonistic, prideful, with a hint of melancholy (played by woman in male drag)

D’Oyly Carte: Producer, Charming diplomat, handles G&S (played by woman in male drag)

Millie Marsden: Soprano, star of the company (Mabel/Josephine/Peep-Bo)

Frederick Stafford Moss: Tenor, lovable dummy (Frederic/Cyril/Pish-Tush/Ralph)

George Grossmith: Baritone, eager (Major Stanley/Dick/Sr. Joseph/Ko-Ko/Poo-Bah/Despard)

Rutland Barrington: Bass/Baritone, haughty & entitled (Pirate King/Captain/Ko-Ko/Robin)

Rosina Brandram: Mezzo-Soprano, proud & snarky(Cousin Hebe/Margaret/Yum-Yum/Edith)

Beatrix Baxendale: Mezzo-Soprano, anxious & eager (Katisha/Pitti-Sing/Isabelle/Buttercup)

Alfred Sellier: Piano/Orchestra, steadfast, quick with an eye roll.

Chorus: No chorus required, but can easily be added as needed.


Duration: Approx. 1 hour

Setting: Interior of rehearsal rooms in London, New York (all looking generally the same) Lobby & Theater at the Savoy, London, Limbo

Time Period: 1878-1887

Orchestra size: Piano

Cast Attributes:

Non-Traditional Casting

Cross-gender Casting

Multi-Cultural Casting

Flexible Casting

Expandable casting

Operetta with 3 Actors

Room for Extras


Performing Groups: College Theatre/Student, Young Artists’ Programs (YAPs), Community Theatre,
Professional Theatre, Opera Companies, Black Box/Second Stage/Fringe Groups

Features: Minimalist, Improvised, “Behind the Scenes”, women in male drag

Target Audience: Adults, Seniors, Teens (13+)


Gilbert & Sullivan
Historical fiction
Theatre/Entertainment Industry

Contents Include:

-Digital download of script

-2 individual consultations with Cackling Harpies

...Engaging, Talented and Hilarious!

Cackling Harpies is a fun and unique duo that takes opera to the next level! Their productions always ensure that every charter has a unique story and life that comes across on stage.
As directors, they are always a joy to work with and create an environment that is truly collaborative. As performers, they are engaging, talented and hilarious!

-John Kaneklides
Performer, La Traviata

100% Fun


“Have you ever wished for a production team that brought 100% fun and 100% historical and artistic relevance? Look no further! Every Cackling Harpies production I’ve been a part of has been the perfect combination of the two. Never a dull moment and never an unfounded direction, these two really are a dream team and I look forward to getting to work together again soon!”

Christopher Ryan
Performer, Witching Hour 2021

...You'll Laugh, Cheer and Cry

“I have never enjoyed a rehearsal process more or felt more safe to explore my character than when working with the Cackling Harpies. They invite you to create with them and become invested in the show like none other. As an audience member, you’ll laugh and cheer and cry; if you’re a cast member, you’ll do the same.”

– Sean Christopher Stork
Performer, Witching Hour 2021, Spanish Nights