Meet the Savoyards! Profile of Lynette Garlan

2015 Gold Pirate Lynette Garlan is treasurer for Pittsburgh Savoyards, Production Manager for Iolanthe, Orchestra Manager and general all-around supporter and helper.

I was introduced to Gilbert & Sullivan by my mother, at a young age, growing up in California. She was a singer, and loved the music and was in several G & S productions. When I moved to Pittsburgh for the second time, I went to see Pirates of Penzance at the Bellefield Theater in Oakland, the last show that Bob Whitley conducted. It was so much fun I asked about playing in the orchestra, and hence started my history with the group. My first show was Ruddigore in 1992. I’ve played in most of the shows since (but not all, there have been a couple I missed). I’ve worked on all the shows except The Grand Duke, and Thespis, of course, since there is no score surviving for that one.

If I were designing costumes for the fairies, I’d do something light and airy, sort of floating. I was in one event where I saw a costume with lights underneath. That would be neat. Oh, and wings, of course. Or, how about green body paint and the fairies can fly! (if we only had a budget for it!).

2015 Pirate full bodyMy musical training started with the accordion at age 5, lessons in that and piano. In junior high I played violin in the school orchestra (I was terrible!). There were periods when I never touched an instrument, but in college, I minored in piano and started picking up American music on the fiddle, playing violin and accordion with a band for folk dancing. Once I moved to Pittsburgh, I took professional violin lessons, and was accepted into the Edgewood Symphony Orchestra. I still play with them. Check them out on the internet! (Plus I’ve soloed with them on accordion (!) a few times and am playing Monti’s Czardas with them in August). I also play ethnic instruments like the cimbalom, the santouri, and various Bulgarian and Macedonian instruments. I have been going to the Balkan Music and Dance Camp since 1979, and play and sing with a folk dance group called “Balkan Babes.”

My favorite Gilbert & Sullivan opera is Pirates of Penzance. It’s hard to pick a favorite; there are bits in each opera that aren’t in the others. I think The Mikado has the best lines and funniest jokes, but the overall funniest is Patience. However, I like Pirates since it has the Cat like Tread song and I like dressing up as a pirate!

It’s amazing how much fun the orchestra rehearsals are. You’d think it would be somewhat dry, playing the music and trying to get it right; trying to figure out how a singer would do a song. Guy Russo (conductor) sings all the parts, really well. I said to him, “You ought to invite people to rehearsals just to hear you sing.” During Tech Week – Guy is busy every minute, directing the orchestra and people on stage. When he goes home, he sends detailed lists of notes to cast and orchestra. He remembers all that stuff! He’ll remember when someone has a problem in the orchestra: “Well, maybe I need to cue you there.” And he does. He remembers dozens of special cues, for several people. Then there is the Guy stare. You REALLY don’t want to be on the receiving end of that. It means you messed something up. He’s a very talented man, I don’t know what we’d do without him. Also, he is a very nice person, besides being super-talented.

2015 Red PiratePittsburgh Savoyards are a great group, and we put together really good shows. We can’t afford to think “It’s going well, we can slack off, because we can always do better”. These shows take many people working together to make it happen and make it good. We can’t relax and coast on that. It takes lots of energy from lots of people to do it. It’s amazing that you can have people care enough about the organization to volunteer and put their hearts and souls into it. My goal is to make people feel appreciated so they come back!

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