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   GEE ‘N ESS & “I”  A Passion for Gilbert and Sullivan
2011 - Volume 1 Issue 1
Vida Fronteriza
Performing Arts
Article: Charlotte Tallman
Photos: Courtesy of
             4/Arts Productions
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Personal passions are an interesting thing among people. Some focus on passions when they have the time, others fill most waking moments with personal passion. Some focus on passions in the private, while others tell family and friends. Rarely do you find someone so passionate about something they do everything they can to spread that passion, but when you do meet that person you count yourself lucky.


by Flo Hosa Dougherty

For more information on
W.S. Gilbert and Arthur
Sullivan, Gee ‘n Ess & “I”
or 4/Arts Productions visit:
  Before creating 4/Arts Productions, George started Voz Vaqueros, the Singing Men of Las Cruces, in 1971. Under the guidance of George, a now-retired Las Cruces pediatrician, the group has grown and tapered over the years, but the passion for music has always been there, especially for George who has been involved with men's choirs, starting when he formed a singing group during his school days. As with Voz Vaqueros, 4/Arts Productions and now Gee ‘n Ess & “I”, George never does anything small, and everything he does is always centered on spreading the love of the Arts to everyone involved.
Dr. George Jarden is one of those people who will make you feel lucky.

Three and a half years ago, George sat down with David Edwards (who acted in his first play at the Las Cruces Community Theatre in 1972 and since has taught theatre and directed plays) and discussed the possibility of creating a multi-media, one-man show that would highlight the fascinating comic operas of W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan. After hundreds of hours of filming, singing, designing and staging, David and George hit the stage in April and May with Gee ‘n Ess & “I” at the historic Rio Grande Theatre.

"I had been at work on the show for a year and called Dave to tell him about the project and offer him the directing role," George said. "He had little experience with Gee and Ess, but wanted to learn more, which was fortunate for me."

Produced through 4/Arts Productions, a local nonprofit organization created by George and dedicated to fostering the Arts in Southern New Mexico, Gee ‘n Ess & “I” showed to both Savoyards (those who know all things Gilbert and Sullivan) and theatre lovers hoping to learn more about the theatre duo responsible for plays such as “H.M.S. Pinafore” and “Pirates of Penzance” April 1-4 and May 6-9.

“Gilbert and Sullivan have always been embedded in George’s life, and the way he described the show made me really want to be involved in it,” David says of the famous theatre duo and the stories he heard from George about the G&S Society that sprung up in 1907. “I was able to envision him as a child at home with these Savoyards celebrating Gilbert and Sullivan.”

With David committed, the two men met with noted artist Flo Hosa Dougherty and Jason Stewart (who worked on the computer generated music) to plan a show.

“We formed a partnership to make this happen,” David says. “I now have binders and binders of music scores, ideas and biographies of Gee and Ess. I got totally entrenched and I’ve stuck with it because I believe in George and his passion for it.”

The show was remarkably unique in the way it was delivered. As himself – the character “I” (the ‘live’ Jarden) sang, danced and acted roles from 11 Gilbert and Sullivan musical comedies, including “The Mikado,” “The Pirates of Penzance,” and “H.M.S. Pinafore,” among others.

Throughout the beautifully crafted show, George’s personality shined as bright as the bright costumes he wore and the artistic characterizations on the screen. Along the way, George and David recruited additional members to the creative team, including David Wheeler, digital recorder; Brandi Johnston, choreographer; Terri Hubert, costume designer/builder; and Rajeev Nirmalakhandan and Ben La Marca, videography designers. To help backstage with sets and more than 50 costume changes, each intricate in their own way,
10 community members donated their time as costume changers.

During the 10 shows at the Rio Grande Theatre, some 65 songs and 95 characters were highlighted at each show. As a long-time community member who has been instrumental in growing the Arts in the area, George and 4/Arts Productions offered free admission to all students to further encourage youth participation in the arts. Two full-house schoolchildren concerts were presented with 4/Arts Productions covering the cost of busing.

“We have always been conscious of our audience. We want to educate people not familiar with Gilbert and Sullivan while providing entertainment for the Savoyards who love G and S,” George says of the elaborate show the group is hoping to take internationally. “In a way, we are kind of inventing what we are doing – we certainly had to go out and find out how to do it, but that is what makes this show so great.” ///
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