The Lamplighters Student Night at the opera Performance date is Friday, February 23 at 7:30 p.m.

Teachers Resources

Lamplighters Student Night at the Opera for Ruddygore: Or, the Bruja’s Curse!

What is Ruddygore?

Ruddygore is an operetta written by W.S. Gilbert with music by Arthur Sullivan. It was first performed in London, England in 1887. In its usual setting, the show takes place in a small fishing village in Cornwall, England during the Regency era (1811 to 1820). The show features a soprano/alto chorus of professional bridesmaids and a tenor/baritone/bass chorus of ghostly ancestors, with characters and storyline that parody many elements of Victorian melodrama. The Gilbert and Sullivan Archive has lots more information on the show.

But you’re setting it in Mexico?

Yes! In 1824, a group of miners from Cornwall formed the “Company of Gentlemen Adventurers in the Mines of Real del Monte.” They had acquired the rights to mine silver in a small town in central Mexico. Since the silver ore was underwater and could not be mined with the existing machinery and methods, these “adventurers” thought their skills, and their steam engines, would revitalize a failed mining industry. Around 350 Cornish miners made the trip, and the company worked the mines from 1824-1848. Along the way they brought their traditions and, more importantly, their food. Cornish pasties, called “pastes” in Mexico, are still a staple food of the area.

It is in this real-life town that we set our version of Ruddygore. The Murgatroyds are a fictional Cornish family that moved to Real del Monte to get into the mining business… and to escape their infamous family curse of committing one crime a day or being doomed to perish in inconceivable agonies. Alas, they brought the curse with them! The show will feature all the familiar characters, lyrics, and music, but will also include folklórico dancing for the women and Day-of-the-Dead style ghostly ancestors. We are planning to keep all of Gilbert’s lyrics and Sullivan’s music, though we might change a word or two to fit the concept.

What are the big Mexican ideas you’re using?

Overall there are three themes.

  1. Telenovela. As a kid in Mexico I grew up watching these on TV. They tend to be slightly overacted and have ridiculous plot lines, not unlike the show you’re about to see.
  2. Baile Folklórico. This is a style of dance that originated in Mexico. The original show has a chorus of bridesmaids and here the bridesmaids also dance folklórico.
  3. Día de Muertos. The Day of the Dead is celebrated in November, and inside “Casa Murgatroyd” you will definitely see the decorations and perhaps a ghost or two.

When/Where are we setting the show?

Act I is set in the Zócalo of Real del Monte, a small mining town in the state of Hidalgo in central Mexico, around 1869. The French have recently left Mexico after they installed an empire from 1861-1867. Also Hidalgo just became an official “State”. Act II is in Casa Murgatroyd, which for this show will be located in Pachuca, the capital city of Hidalgo. It’s modeled after the Casa Rule, home of Francis Rule, one of the commissioners of the British Mining venture.

What is Day of the Dead?

Dia de Muertos/Day of the Dead is a holiday in Mexico on which we remember our loved ones who are no longer living. The nuances of the celebrations vary slightly throughout the country, but the basic practice is as follows: We decorate our houses with marigolds and calaveras (skulls) and set up a home altar with things like candles, papel picado, and photos of the deceased along with their favorite foods and beverages. Oftentimes families will take the opportunity to visit and decorate the gravesites of their loved ones as well. It is supposed to be joyful rather than sad. (Some areas are known for their Día de Muertos parades!)