Last weekend, the Gilbert and Sullivan Players put on the gothic tour-de-force The Sorcerer, a musical which continues down a long and fairly consistent path of rock operas at Saint Vincent College. Just last semester The Company gave us the macabre Little Shop of Horrors, and before that they gave us the ever memorable Jesus Christ Superstar. Why the sudden rash of electric arrangements? If you ask me, I’d say it all began with Ziggy Stardust’s cameo in the 2011 performance of Shakespeare in Space, but I believe I’m the only one who holds such an opinion. Fortunately, I had time to talk with Casey Ciocco, the director and conductor of The Sorcerer, to address our college’s love of rock-operas, gothic sensibilities and creepy stuff.
Jeremy Flynn: Could you sum up the plot of the musical?
Casey Ciocco: The plot is mildly interesting, with a love potion that has been concocted by a real Sorcerer and makes everyone fall in love with the wrong person. This causes the traditional Gilbert & Sullivan silliness. Everything ends up alright in the end, because there is a sacrifice of a life, but it’s all okay.
JF: Why was this musical chosen?
CC: This show was selected because of its small cast and plot. I am all about creepy and Victorian things, so putting our gothic spin on it also led me to really stick to the show. The music was relatively easy, whereas a lot of Sullivan’s music (the composer of the duo) is harder in other operettas.
JF: We’ve seen quite a few rock operas these past few years at Saint Vincent. Was this direction intentional or not? If so, why?
CC: The direction of the creepiness of a ‘rock opera’ was not intentional, but if it stuck closer to any of those shows, it would be Jesus Christ Superstar. I also based some of my direction and ideas for the show of the SVC Player’s Dracula (from Fall 2011 – one of my favorites to be a part of). It wasn’t intentional, but I think it’s such a nice atmosphere for a show.
JF: What was the biggest challenge for the group in putting on this musical?
CC: The biggest challenge was putting all of it together, and not having a pianist. Kara Laus is one of our actors, and she willingly played for us during rehearsals. Also, having my view for the show actually be realized and materialized was difficult. I kept promising people it would be gothic and dark, while still silly, and I know it was hard to keep taking my word for it. But it turned out perfect.
JF: What is your favorite aspect of the musical?
CC: My favorite aspect of the show is the gothic feel. Amanda Schrott did our hair, make-up and costume design and was amazing at it. Everyone looks amazing together, and I can’t wait for people to see the end result!
JF: The Sorcerer deals predominantly with the supernatural, a topic which is no stranger on Saint Vincent’s eerie campus. Do you or anyone in the group have any ghost stories that happened in the auditorium? It’s pretty creepy back there at night.
CC: That theater is terrifying at night. I was with Alex Policicchio and Lauren Stanley one night in the theater while Alex was painting backdrops for two of the operas the Music Department was doing, and we experienced some interesting stuff that night—women singing (that were neither myself nor Lauren) and names being whispered that corresponded to bricks on the theater walls with names of past actors and crew. I guarantee any other cast member could divulge ghost stories to you.
JF: What can we expect next season from the group?
CC: In the fall, we will be doing a traditional Gala (a cabaret of sorts), which is a mish-mash of any G&S material we choose to put in it. The plots and scripts can be entirely generated by students, or it can even be one of Gilbert’s (the librettist) earlier solo plays (non-musical).