Auditions for 10 principal parts, 5 cameo roles, and a large chorus will be held:

Saturday, October 27th 10:00am to 8:00pm
Sunday, October 28th 12:00pm to 4:30pm

Fulton Recital Hall, Goodspeed Hall
University of Chicago
1010 E. 59th Street, Chicago IL 60637
(Parking is available on the street – walk through the arch into the quad – turn left to Goodspeed Hall – take the elevator to 4th floor)

Please prepare a portion of a song that shows off your voice. Music from the show is permitted but not required.
An accompanist will be provided.
Please bring music for any song not from Merrie England.

A modest stipend for all roles.

To reserve an audition time, please send an email to the Merrie England production team containing your name, contact information, a resume (if available), and any audition time conflicts or preferences to auditions@gilbertandsullivanoperacompany.org. Walk-ins also welcome – please come early, as the auditions must be complete by 5:00 pm on Sunday, October 28.

Rehearsal Information:
Rehearsals begin mid-January, 2019
Rehearsals are held Sunday afternoons, weekday evenings Monday thru Thursday, and every other Saturday on the University of Chicago campus.

Tech Week:
March 10 – 14, 2019

Show Dates:
March 15 – 17, 2019 at
Mandel Hall – University of Chicago campus
1131 E. 57th St., Chicago IL 60637

The Opera:
The last great Savoy operetta, Merrie England tells the mostly fictional story of the court of Queen Elizabeth I, who discovers through the machinations of the Machiavellian Earl of Essex that the object of her affections, Sir Walter Raleigh, is engaged in a secret affair with one of her handmaidens, Bessie Throckmorton. Featuring a rich, indulgent score from the appointed successor to Arthur Sullivan, Edward German, this production of Merrie England is a unique chance to introduce modern audiences to a rarely performed gem of the British light opera canon.
Merrie England Character Descriptions

Principal Roles:

Walter Wilkins (comic baritone) – the leading comedian in William Shakespeare’s acting company. Energetic, performative, impatient, and egotistical, he’s a small man but a big talker. Contemptuous of his lessers while fawning over his betters, he isn’t particularly likeable, but he is ultimately well-meaning. This role was originally written for a star of the D’Oyly Carte company and has an inordinate number of solo numbers written for him in the original libretto, some of which will be trimmed or cut for this production. Light dancing required.

Silas Simkins (comic baritone) – the second comedian in William Shakespeare’s acting company. Deferential to Wilkins in all things, including talent, the two are rarely seen apart. Outwardly fawning over Wilkins, Simkins secretly harbors little respect for Wilkins or his talent. Light dancing required.

Sir Walter Raleigh (tenor) – the handsome, daring, swashbuckling, romantic bad boy of Queen Elizabeth’s court. His impeccable charm and boundless bravery makes him adored by every woman he meets – including Queen Elizabeth herself. His confidence and derring-do has made him legendary, but it also gets him into trouble.

Bessie Throckmorton (soprano) – one of Queen Elizabeth’s handmaidens, and secretly engaged to Raleigh. Quietly charming, she begins the show timid, fearful, and risk-averse, learning by the end to love the adventure her relationship with Raleigh has become. Light dancing required.

Jill All-Alone (mezzo) – A hermit who lives in Windsor Forest, Jill is a reclusive, cryptic oddball who nonetheless longs for love. She is remarkably intuitive, independent, and intelligent, and thus the locals of Windsor suspect her of being a witch. She will perform the entire show with a cat hand puppet.

“Long” Tom (bass-baritone) – A Forester of Windsor Forest (like a park ranger), he is dutiful and solid, if not particularly intellectual. Perhaps owing to his love for the outdoors, he is singularly attracted to Jill All-Alone, and is oblivious to the affections of any other women. The singer who plays Tom must be larger than Wilkins, Simkins, and Raleigh, at a minimum.

“Big” Ben (bass-baritone) – A Forester of Windsor Forest, and Tom’s brother. Bigger and stronger than everyone in Windsor but his brother. More of a follower than Tom, with a better sense of humor. The singer who plays Ben should be larger than Wilkins and Simkins. When on stage, he will sing with the ensemble.

Earl of Essex (bass-baritone) – Raleigh’s principal rival for influence in the court of Queen Elizabeth. Essex is constantly conniving, plotting, and planning, and his Machiavelian machinations to gain the affections of Queen Elizabeth lead to Raleigh’s downfall. Though cold-blooded and unsentimental, he is not cruel, and proves courteous and protective of those under his charge.

Queen Elizabeth I (contralto) – Uptight, formal, and intimidating, she is every inch the Queen. Presiding over an historic era of peace and prosperity for England, she nevertheless has an air of melancholy owing to her inability to find a consort.

May Queen (soprano) – Loved and admired by every man and woman in Windsor, the May Queen has been chosen queen-for-a-day for the annual May Day festival, and she has let the largely ceremonial moniker completely go to her head. She is insufferably vain, arrogant, manipulative, and even cruel; she is essentially a 17th century “mean girl.” As Tom is the only man in Windsor who does not love her, she is naturally preoccupied with him, and by extension preoccupied with the destruction of the object of his affections, Jill All Alone. When on stage, she will sing with the ensemble. Light dancing required.

Cameo Roles:

Butcher (bass) – A citizen of Windsor. He loves the May Queen, and therefore follows her lead while competing with his rivals for her affections. He will sing with the ensemble.

Baker (baritone) – A citizen of Windsor. He loves the May Queen, and therefore follows her lead while competing with his rivals for her affections. He will sing with the ensemble.

Tinker (tenor) – A citizen of Windsor. He loves the May Queen, and therefore follows her lead while competing with his rivals for her affections. He will sing with the ensemble.

Tailor (tenor) – A citizen of Windsor. He loves the May Queen, and therefore follows her lead while competing with his rivals for her affections. He will sing with the ensemble.

Kate (contralto) – A traveling merchant, Kate stays in Windsor upon arriving for the May Day festival. She will sing with the ensemble.

Chorus: Citizens of Windsor. They are really, really excited about the May Day festival. To an uncomfortable, somewhat terrifying degree. For the entirety of the show, they are singularly focused on having the best, most joyful May Day possible; whether that goal involves putting on a play, learning a dance, or burning a witch, they tackle each challenge with an unsettling fervor.

Additional Questions:
If you have additional questions about your audition, please contact the Merrie England production team via email:
auditions@gilbertandsullivanoperacompany.org