March 2021

In this issue:

  • Annual Meeting and Picnic – May 29th
  • Grand Duke 2022 kicks off the 2022 Season
  • Driveway Choir – Pirates of Penzance a great success
  • Savoyards’ 60th Anniversary Events and Plans
  • “I was there!” – reminiscences solicited
  • Upcoming events
  • In Memoria

Annual Meeting and Picnic - May 29th

The board is planning an in-person picnic and annual meeting. Although we will not have the hoped-for presentation of “Places Please”, we are planning presentations from the 60th Anniversary Committee, a BYO picnic, election of new board members, and presentation of Yeoman of the Year! More details will be posted on our webpage as the event gets closer: including the slate of board candidates and COVID precautions/directions for the event.

Get your “No Show” 2021 show shirt and 60th Anniversary swag at Sudbury Savoyards new Cafe Press Shop. 

Board Nominations: 

Sudbury Savoyards now accepting nominations our Board of Trustees to help keep the Savoyards healthy and strong. Our Trustees manage the day-to-day work of the Savoyards, including, for example, oversight of finances, shows, events, and locations. If you would like to nominate yourself, or want to know more about what it entails, or help us find other eager Members or friends who can help us out, please drop a note to Tom Powers ( The election for Trustees will be held online before the meeting (details to come); all current members are eligible to vote.

Check your Membership:

Howdy members, past, present, and future! We are so happy that you are here, and the time has come for you to renew your membership. You should receive a message from shortly. We ask that you respond! If you have been in any of the last three years of shows, you may waive membership fees. Please note: your membership does not renew automatically, as we ask you to “opt in” once a year, even when fees have been waived.

The Grand Duke! Winter 2022

After a year hiatus from our mainstage show (a first in our 60-year history!), we are very excited at the prospect of getting back on the stage with The Grand Duke.  We expect to move forward with the two-ring circus, auditions, and rehearsals in a normal timeline starting early fall 2021!  We know that many of you are excited about getting back to it with us!

The Sudbury Savoyards are pleased to announce Matt Tragert as stage director for our upcoming production, The Grand Duke.  Matt joined The Sudbury Savoyards as Assistant Music Director for the 2017 production of The Mikado and found himself wearing another hat, that of Pooh-Bah!  In subsequent productions he has played Private Willis in Iolanthe and Wilfred Shadbolt in Yeomen of the Guard. Matt studied opera at New England Conservatory and The Hartt School of Music, where he focused on operetta where he included Gilbert and Sullivan’s works as often possible. He co-founded The New England Arts Alliance and worked on productions at Gordon College and Ohio University Opera Theater as Assistant Director/Producer. 

Driveway Choir – Pirates of Penzance (K. Denney)

If you drove by the parking lot of Our Lady of Fatima on March 6th, you would see something very curious. Sixty or so cars, arranged in semi circles, some with wires sticking out of the cracked window. A U-Haul with a space heater and an electric piano inside, with people coming in and out. A marching band podium with a conductor waving her arms. But you wouldn’t hear anything – unless you tuned 107.1 FM, which normally has nothing broadcast to it. That afternoon, we sent an FM signal from our transmitter to everyone’s car radio, and anyone within about 200 feet could hear the blend of all the people singing into mics. Some with wires, some wireless, this was the chorus that sang through The Pirates of Penzance. We, Kathryn and Bryce Denney, have been doing this since May 2020, a few months after the pandemic shut down theater performances and choral rehearsals. We’ve called it the Driveway Choir because the first events involved a few friends in cars in our driveway. Soon, one of our driveway singers asked them if they could pack our equipment into a car and bring it to the church where he directed a choir. Since August, the Denneys have gone to meet nearly one community chorus per week, and have taught many other technicians to set up their own driveway choruses. (More on the technical side.) While Pirates was the 40th event we have run, this was our first attempt at a piece of musical theater in which people played roles and acted in real time and looked at each other through the car windows and sang duets. It was an incredible event, a little chilly, but the bright sun was in the sky and also in our souls.

Sudbury Savoyards celebrates its 60th Anniversary! (A. Roessler)

In the beginning:

On April 27 and 28, 1961, the Sudbury Methodist Church Building Committee sponsored  “An Evening of Music” to help raise funds to build a new sanctuary for the church. Master of Ceremonies was L. Roy Hawes and Part 2 of the evening was a performance of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Trial by Jury, with Priscilla Davis as Director of Dramatics and Betty Farmer as Director of Music accompanied by Dean Aldrich. Staged in the Parish Hall and costumed largely with choir robes, this was the beginning of the group later to be christened “The Sudbury Savoyards.”  A profit of $872.90 was turned over to the church building committee. Sixty years later, the Sudbury Savoyards is proud to still be presenting the works of Gilbert and Sullivan and sends best wishes to our founder, Betty Farmer, for a very Happy 93rd Birthday! 

Betty Farmer, Director of Music, with Lawrence Haworth
Priscilla Davis, Director of Dramatics
The 1961 Program

Share your memories: “I was there!” (Lynn Sa)

 “As I write this, I’m trying not to feel downcast, that this March we should have been closing our performance cycle of The Grand Duke. This year we missed the excitement of dress rehearsal, the anticipation of opening night, the satisfaction of strike … (long sigh). Instead of focusing on what we haven’t been able to do this year, let’s focus on what we have had! The 60th Anniversary Committee is announcing a special project called “I Was There.”

We are reaching out to everyone – cast, crew, musicians, production staff, house staff, audience – to share special memories from past G &S productions. Think back!  Did something happen at a rehearsal or a performance – amusing, frightful, memorable, amazing? On stage, back stage, in the pit, in the Green Room, in the Band Room or maybe in the Sound Booth? From any of our productions from Trial by Jury (1961) to H.M.S. Pinafore (2020)?

The 60th Anniversary Committee wants you to share your special memories with us. Jot down your memories, maybe include a photo, and email it to Lynn ( Your memories will be shared on The Sudbury Savoyards website and/or Facebook page for everyone to enjoy. And keep watching the website for more special events by the 60th Anniversary Committee!

 “I was there when the alarm went off!” (Kathryn Denney)

In Yeomen 2019, we were happily running through our Sunday matinee performance of the Act One Finale, with our Wilfred and our Phoebe singing center stage. Suddenly, the fire alarm went off, but I, the music director, was so caught up in conducting everyone that I didn’t even notice it. I remember saying, “Should we evacuate the building?” but the musicians were still playing and I was still waving my arms. Luckily, I didn’t have a microphone. Matt, playing Wilfred, used his body mic to say to everyone, in a decisive voice, “Ladies and Gentlemen, please exit the building as quickly and safely as you can.” It was raining outside in February, and probably 35 degrees if that. We huddled together outside, audience, orchestra, and cast, trying to stay warm and dry. Half an hour later the electrical problem had been solved and we picked up where we’d left off and carried on only slightly damper for the interruption.

Upcoming Events:

  • May 29, 2021: Annual Meeting and Picnic – May 29th, Camp Sewataro in Sudbury, MA
  • October 3, 2012: Fundraiser Gala at Sandy Burr in Wayland, MA
  • Fall 2021 (TBA): Two Ring (season-opening party)
  • Fall 2021 (TBA): Auditions for The Grand Duke
  • February 2022 (TBA): The Grand Duke, at Lincoln/Sudbury Regional High, Sudbury, MA

Gone but not forgotten:

Bob Vannerson:

The Sudbury Savoyards announce the passing of  Bob Vannerson on December 22, 2020.  Bob was a long-time member of the Sudbury United Methodist Church and began his tenure with the Savoyards in 1966 as a Patron, along with his wife, Alice. Bob became the Business Manager for the 1969 production of “The Mikado” and segued onto the stage from 1971 through 1976 as a member of the chorus.  Bob and Alice continued their support behind the scenes in technical and production capacities, as well as loyal Patrons, through 1991.

(PHOTO: Bob Vannerson, right, with Chairman Will Ford 1976 The Sorcerer)

Roberta Berry:

Roberta Berry of Lincoln passed away peacefully on December 1, 2020. Roberta was the beloved wife of The Sudbury Savoyards’ former House Manager, George Berry, and supported him by serving as Cashier from 1989 through 1999. After marrying George in 1988, Roberta retired from Digital to pursue her passion for horses, eventually building Berryfield Farm in Lincoln, MA, a premiere dressage training barn, which was also the home for 20 years to Friends for Tomorrow, a therapeutic horseback riding program for children with special needs.