Helen Lenoir: The more I see of men, the more I admire dogs.
Gilbert: I'm sure we shall reap the benefits of your remonstrations in the fullness of time.
Gilbert: Madam, I had rather spend an afternoon in a Turkish bath with my mother than visit the dratted dentist.
Gilbert: [giving notes to the cast after a dress rehearsal] Ko-ko's entrance: Mr. Kent and Mr. Conyngham. Please ensure that you do not flinch at Mr. Grossmith's sword. You must have confidence that he is not about to chop off your heads, even if it may appear that that is your inevitable fate.
Gilbert: There's something inherently disappointing about success.
Gilbert's Father: Am I to understand, sir, that you have been in communication with your mother?
Gilbert: No, Father, not for some considerable time, I'm glad to say.
Gilbert's Father: You are a liar, sir.
Gilbert: No, sir. I can assure you, Papa, that the very last person with whom I wish to have any communication at all is your estranged wife, the vicious woman who bore me into this ridiculous world.
Gilbert's Father: How dare you, sir? Have you no respect?
Gilbert: Don't misunderstand me, Father. Nobody respects her more than I do, and I can't stand the woman.
Gilbert: Oh, for God's sake you pair of bloody harpies - get out, I'm WORKING!
Sullivan: This work with Gilbert is quite simply killing me.
Richard D'Oyly Carte: Working with Gilbert would kill anybody.
Fanny Ronalds: Lady Colin is endeavoring to persuade us to take up smoking. She's writing an article for the Saturday Review. She proposes that nicotine is a gift from the gods, and if men may benefit from its soothing qualities, why then may women not also? My poor daughter now believes that smoking is an extension of the... communion between a woman and her husband.
Sullivan: Will she be smoking a cigarette on her wedding day?
Fanny Ronalds: [laughing] Heaven forfend!
Gilbert's Father: A father should not have to seek permission to visit his own son!
Gilbert: The son shouldn't be expected to be clairvoyant.
Gilbert: Every theatrical performance is a contrivance by its very nature.
Sullivan: Yes, but this piece consists entirely of an artificial and implausible situation.
Gilbert: If you wish to write a Grand Opera about a prostitute, dying of consumption in a garret, I suggest you contact Mr Ibsen in Oslo. I am sure he will be able to furnish you with something suitably dull.
Gilbert: A terrible thing has just happened, Grossmith. You've become a cockney.
Lucy Gilbert (Kitty): Schwenk speaks to The Savoy every morning in code, father-in-law. Just in case the telephone operator should be eavesdropping.
Gilbert's Father: One might as well open the window and shout down the street.
Gilbert: I don't quite know how to take praise. It makes my eye red.
Gilbert: Barker, what are you doing? Do you propose to join in?
Richard Barker: My dancing days are long over, Mr. Gilbert.
Gilbert: Over, Barker, but not forgotten.
Gilbert's Mother: Maude...
Maude Gilbert: Yes, Mama?
Gilbert's Mother: Never bear a humorous baby.
Maude Gilbert: I shall endeavor not to, Mama.
Sullivan: [to Mr. Hurley, the bassoonist] You was late, Mr. 'Urley.
John D'Auban, Choregrapher: I haven't laughed so much since my tights caught fire in "Harlequin Meets Itchity Witch and the Snitch".
[Gilbert brings a samurai sword home from the Japanese exhibition]
Pidgeon, Gilbert's Houseman: It's a fine-looking instrument, sir. Now would that be Spanish or Italian?
Gilbert: Neither, Pidgeon.
Pidgeon, Gilbert's Houseman: Of course, sir.
Richard Temple: [on wearing a sweaty costume during summer performances] I fear that dear Mr. Gilbert has run out of ideas.
Durward Lely: No!
Richard Temple: He doesn't know what to do with me. Ponder this: he thrusts me into a gamut of tight-fitting pots, pans, and pails, and poaches me like a fucking haddock! Forgive my Anglo-Saxon, Mr. Butt.
Gilbert: How was your crossing, Sullivan?
Sullivan: Mercifully smooth, thank you.
Gilbert: As smooth as D'Oyly Carte?
Sullivan: No, not quite, Gilbert.
[rehearsing a scene]
George Grossmith: [annoyed] "Well, a nice mess you've got us into, with your nodding head, and the deference due to a man of pedigree!"
Gilbert: Mr. Grossmith, you are under sentence of death, "by something lingering, either boiling oil or melted lead." Kindly bear that in mind.
[giving notes after a dress rehearsal]
Gilbert: Your performances were, on the whole, promising, which is more than can be said, alas, for that of the sliding doors. One of which might have thought it was in Japan, but the other was apparently stubbornly laboring under the misapprehension that it was on holiday in Yorkshire.
Richard Barker: Where was the man, Mr. Seymour?
Mr. Seymour, Production Manager: Rest assured, Mr. Barker, that tomorrow night he will be with us in Japan.
Fanny Ronalds: Lady Colin is irresistible. She cannot conceive why the Irish are starving when there's lots of good fish in the sea.
Sullivan: She most probably has a point.
[after extracting Gilbert's bad tooth]
Dentist: I must say, my wife and I did find "Princess Ida" rather too long, don't you know.
Gilbert: [mumbles indignantly around the gauze in his mouth]
Dentist: Try not to speak, old chap.
Armourer: [in French] You are going to have a definite success, sir!
[the Armourer leaves]
Gilbert: What do you expect me to do, kiss the carpenters?
Wilhelm: Mr. Grossmith, kindly oblige me by removing your hat.
George Grossmith: Why, sir? Are you ready for me?
Wilhelm: Would that I were, sir. And, I'll thank you not to refer to my designs as "vulgar", Mr. Lely.
Durward Lely: Mr. Wilhelm, to my eyes, your designs are not only vulgar, but obscene!
Wilhelm: How DARE you, sir?
Gilbert: Strong words, Lely - what the deuce do you mean?
Durward Lely: Mr. Gilbert, I am a respectably married man and I love my wife dearly. Now, one of the few pleasures that she has enjoyed since the untimely demise of my beloved mother-in-law is to watch me perform upon the stage. But, I am not prepared to allow her to suffer the embarrassment of seeing me flaunted before the public like a half-dressed, performing dog!
Gilbert: You have my sympathies, Lely. Unfortunately, your avocation as an actor compels you, on occasion, to endure the most ignominious indignities, to which Grossmith will doubtless testify.
George Grossmith: Without question, sir.
George Grossmith: [of the Japanese fan] I'm sure I've seen this on a vase somewhere.
Gilbert: Now, Miss "Sixpence, Please" - what you have just witnessed is not even remotely Japanese, am I right?
[Miss "Sixpence, Please" is silent]
Gilbert: [to the Japanese man] Sir - Japanese.
Japanese Man: Japanese.
Japanese Man: No.
Gilbert: Thank you very much...
John D'Auban, Choregrapher: Excuse me, Mr. Gilbert sir, if I may?
[to the Japanese man]
John D'Auban, Choregrapher: Japanese.
Japanese Man: Japanese.
Japanese Man: Yes.
John D'Auban, Choregrapher: [to Gilbert] See, he hasn't got the faintest idea what you're talkin' about.
George Grossmith: I have a meeting with Carte this afternoon.
George Grossmith: At what hour?
Rutland Barrington: Five o'clock.
George Grossmith: Curious. I am to meet with him at half-past four.
Durward Lely: Strange, I DON'T have a meeting with him at four o'clock.
Rutland Barrington: It is my firm intention to prise open his purse.
George Grossmith: It will take a far stronger man than you, Mr. Barrington, to fulfill that herculean labour.
Rutland Barrington: [chuckles] And what's your mission, Captain Grossmith?
George Grossmith: Oh, there are certain little matters.
Durward Lely: Dickie, have you heard the real news of the day?
Richard Temple: Yes, the Fenian bomb. Oh, dreadful.
Durward Lely: No - Grossmith and Barrington.
Richard Temple: [shocked] What?
Durward Lely: They're off tonight.
Richard Temple: No!
Durward Lely: Yes.
Richard Temple: Both of them?
Durward Lely: Yes.
Richard Temple: Why?
Durward Lely: Oysters...
Richard Temple: [gasps]
- We shared luncheon together.
Richard Temple: Did you swallow?
Durward Lely: No, I chose the sole!
Richard Temple: Off the bone?
Durward Lely: Yes, it was rather succulent.
Richard Temple: Wise man. Oysters can kill, you know.
Durward Lely: Oh, unquestionably!
Richard Temple: I had an aunt, choked on a scallop at Herne Bay.
Durward Lely: Really?
Richard Temple: Tragic.
John D'Auban, Choregrapher: On the whole, the terpsichore was executed very magnifiquely, notwithstanding the topsy-turvydom befuddling Mr. Ko-Ko's entrance.
Gilbert: Thus. The traditional Japanese posture adopted by well-meaning, but misguided, underlings upon the departure of their august superiors.
George Grossmith: Would that be a recognised Japanese attitude, sir?
Gilbert: Not as yet, Grossmith, but I have every confidence that it shall become one.
Jessie Bond: [about her kimono] It's shapeless.
Madame Leon: Yes, Miss Bond, it is shapeless. Japanese ladies are most shapeless.
Wilhelm: Rest assured, Mr. Lely, my designs are properly researched and authentic to the last thread.
Durward Lely: No disrespect to you, Mr. Wilhelm, but your authentically tailored costume seems to have left me rather in the buff, somewhat!
Wilhelm: No more in the buff than Japanese peasants have been for the last eight hundred years, sir.
Durward Lely: May I draw your attention, Mr. Wilhelm, to the fact that I am not actually a Japanese peasant?
Gilbert: No, you are a Scotch actor who is taking the part of a Japanese prince who is posing as an itinerant minstrel.
Wilhelm: Will you remove your corset.
Durward Lely: I beg your pardon?
Wilhelm: Kindly remove your corset, Mr. Lely, it will spoil the hang of the cloth.
Durward Lely: Mr. Gilbert, I never perform without my corset!
Gilbert: What, never?
Richard Temple: Shocking news from Khartoum. Something will have to be done tout-de-suite. Mrs. Temple hit the nail on the head as usual.
Durward Lely: Oh, really? What did she say?
Richard Temple: "The nation loses a hero, but the family loses a loved one."
Durward Lely: Oh, how apt.
Richard D'Oyly Carte: Who told you that?
Richard Barker: Hollingshead. I played a game of cricket with him this morning before breakfast at Coram's Fields.
Helen Lenoir: In this heat?
Richard Barker: Yes, madam, but not in this attire.
Helen Lenoir: Oh, good.
[Barker phones Gilbert with the returns from the previous evening, speaking in code]
Richard Barker: U, U, plus 10 shillings and sixpence!
Gilbert: Can you repeat that, please?
Richard Barker: Yes: U, U!
Gilbert: So that's U for udder, U for udder, plus ten shillings and sixpence!
Richard Barker: Yes!
Gilbert: So you have two udders, Barker?
Richard Barker: Uh, yes!
Gilbert: I always suspected as much!
Richard Barker: [laughs]
Richard D'Oyly Carte: Well, I don't know about you, but speaking for myself, I could murder a pork chop.
Fanny Ronalds: Oh, there's good news from Dublin.
Fanny Ronalds: The Churchills are to return to London.
Sullivan: Forgiven, but not forgotten.
Fanny Ronalds: I do hope so. Jenny says Winston is eleven, covered in freckles, and has a total disdain for authority.
Lucy Gilbert (Kitty): I do apologize, sir, that neither I nor Schwenck was here to welcome you on your arrival last night.
Gilbert's Father: I do not appreciate being left upon the doorstep like a hawker!
Gilbert: If you'll only take the trouble to press the electric bell, Father, you'll be admitted at once. Is that not so, Pidgeon?
Pidgeon, Gilbert's Houseman: Indeed it is, sir.
Gilbert's Father: I have no intention of placing my life in danger, sir!
Gilbert: How many doorstep deaths have we had thus far, Pidgeon?
Pidgeon, Gilbert's Houseman: None to my certain knowledge, sir.
Gilbert: There you are, Father. The odds would appear to be in your favour.
Gilbert's Father: [on Gilbert's mother] She is a veritable gorgon.
Gilbert: She is indeed, and she has chosen her own path, and in so doing, she has turned her back on yourself and myself. And for that small mercy we should both of us be eternally grateful.
Sullivan: What's this?
Richard D'Oyly Carte: Pull it.
Richard D'Oyly Carte: It's a reservoir pen. Contains its own ink.
Sullivan: Good gracious me. Whatever will they think of next?
Sullivan: [proposing a toast] To the Savoy Hotel.
Richard D'Oyly Carte: The Savoy Hotel.
Sullivan: With its seventy bathrooms.
Richard D'Oyly Carte: The builder was much bemused. "What's the point of having a bathroom to every bedroom? Who's going to be staying there, amphibians?"
Sullivan: Oh, Gilbert! You and your world of topsy-turvydom. In 1881, it was a magic coin; and before that it was a magic lozenge; and in 1877 it was an elixir.
Gilbert: In this instance it is a magic potion.
Mrs. Judd, Gilbert's Maid: I've made you some beef tea, Mr. Gilbert.
Gilbert: Take it away.
Mrs. Judd, Gilbert's Maid: You've not had anything since yesterday afternoon, sir.
Gilbert: Take it away.
Mrs. Judd, Gilbert's Maid: You can't work on an empty stomach.
Gilbert: I can't work at all, Mrs. Judd, if I'm being constantly pestered by interfering women with hot beef tea, cold compresses, mustard poultices, and excessive attacks of philanthropic zeal.
Sullivan: May I remind you, Helen, that I am not a machine.
Helen Lenoir: I would not suggest for one moment that you were.
Sullivan: You all seem to be treating me as a barrel-organ. You have but to turn my handle, and Hey Presto! Out pops a tune.
Gilbert: I have other things on my mind, you know that.
Lucy Gilbert (Kitty): Yes, I do know that, Willie, and I understand, but a little distraction will do you good.
Gilbert: Kitty, I don't want to be distracted.
Lucy Gilbert (Kitty): Yes, you do.
Gilbert: Oh, do I? You know my mind better than I do, do you?
Lucy Gilbert (Kitty): I know you better than you think I do, Willie.
[in a Japanese tea house]
Lucy Gilbert (Kitty): My goodness! It's perfectly green.
Gilbert: Spinach water.
Lucy Gilbert (Kitty): Oh, Willie.
Gilbert: Thank you very much.
Miss 'Sixpence Please': Shickerspen, preas.
Gilbert: I beg your pardon?
Miss 'Sixpence Please': Shickerspen, preas.
Lucy Gilbert (Kitty): Oh, she speaks English.
Gilbert: What did she say?
Lucy Gilbert (Kitty): She said, "Sixpence, please."
George Grossmith: The Hottentot in the desert doesn't play cricket. His natural habitation being the jungly-bungly tree, he is as yet hardly able to walk upright, don't you know.
Jessie Bond: Is one to presume one is to be prevented from wearing one's corset, Madame Leon?
Madame Leon: Miss Bond, none of the ladies shall be wearing corsets during the performance.
Jessie Bond: That's simply preposterous!
Madame Leon: Our aim is to emulate the Japanese ladies, and Japanese ladies are as thin as thread paper, inasmuch a Roman column as opposed to a Grecian urn.
Gilbert: You have my sympathies, Lely. But unfortunately your avocation as an actor compels you on occasion to endure the most ignominious indignities, as Grossmith will doubtless testify.
George Grossmith: Without question, sir.
Gilbert: They walked downstage in the Japanese manner.
John D'Auban, Choregrapher: They walked downstage in the Japanese manner because they are Japanese.
Gilbert: Exactly, and that is precisely why they are here.
John D'Auban, Choregrapher: Our three little maids are not Japanese. However, they are very funny.
Gilbert: No funnier, however, than they would be if they all sat down on pork pies.
[Seymour, the stage manager, fills in Lely's part during a rehearsal]
Mr. Seymour, Production Manager: [reading from the script, over-acting] Oh, but it's too late! I'm a dead man, and I'm off for my honeymoon.
[Barrington falls about laughing]
George Grossmith: Uncanny, is it not?
Gilbert: Mr. Seymour, please inform Mr. Lely that his services will no longer be required.
Lucy Gilbert (Kitty): I should rather like to be an actor, upon the stage.
Gilbert: An actor?
Lucy Gilbert (Kitty): Yes. Wouldn't it be wondrous if perfectly commonplace people gave each other a round of applause at the end of the day?
[she claps enthusiastically]
Lucy Gilbert (Kitty): Well done, Kitty! Well done!
Fanny Ronalds: [to Sullivan] I love "The Mikado." You've put everything you are into it. You light up the world. You can't help it.
[to her reflection in the theatre dressing-room mirror]
Leonora Braham, Lead Soprano: Yes, I am indeed beautiful. Sometimes I sit and wonder, in my artless Japanese way, why it is that I am so much more attractive than anybody else in the whole world. Can this be vanity? No! Nature is lovely, and rejoices in her loveliness. I am a child of Nature, and take after my mother.
Richard Barker: [during a heat wave] Seven dead horses in the Strand this morning. Well, one down by Trafalgar Square.
Richard D'Oyly Carte: I don't know how you can sit there in your hat and coat, Barker.
Richard Barker: I'm too hot to remove them, Mr. Carte.
Helen Lenoir: [during a heat wave] I fear we shall all have to pray for rain.
Richard Barker: Well, if it's any consolation, every theatre in town is afflicted. Even the Gaiety, graced as it is with Madame Bernhardt's execrable Lady Macbeth.
Gilbert: Can we do that line again please, Barrington, and this time try it in English.
Richard Temple: One should be rewarded on one's merits, not on one's ability to ingratiate oneself with the management. Particularly when the management have difficulty in locating the relative whereabouts of the arse and the elbow.
Gilbert: I was unable to present you with the libretto until you returned from your Grand Tour of Europe.
Sullivan: That is neither here nor there.
Gilbert: No, Sullivan, indeed. I was here and you were there!
Richard Barker: And now, sir, I am going in search of some Italian hokey-pokey, and I care not who knows it.
George Grossmith: [In rehearsals as Koko, and pronouncing a word wrongly] Is this a time for airy persiflidge?
Gilbert: *Persiflage*, Grossmith.
George Grossmith: Is it?
Gilbert: It is.
George Grossmith: Is this a time for airy persiflage? Doesn't sound right to me.
Gilbert: Persiflage, mirage, fromage.
Rutland Barrington: [rehearsing a line] Merely corroborative detail, intended to give artistic verisimilitude to a bald and unconvincing narrative.
Gilbert: No, Barrington. "An *otherwise* bald and unconvincing narrative."
Rutland Barrington: [faltering] Was that incorrect? I-I do beg your pardon.
Gilbert: On the contrary, it has only just occurred to me.
Rutland Barrington: Ah. To an *otherwise* bald and unconvincing narrative.
Gilbert: Much better.
[Frederick Bovill who has the part of Pish-Tush has just sung his part in the trio in a dotted rhythm, when it is in 12 8]
Sullivan: Yes, but you see, I have gone to considerable trouble, Mr Bovill, to provide you with triplets. So, if you would care, to triple?
Richard D'Oyly Carte: With reference to your engagement for the opera, I have a great concern about your little weakness.
Leonora Braham, Lead Soprano: Hmm... I'm a little shocked, Mr. Carte. I really do believe that my behavior this last year has been exemplary.
Richard D'Oyly Carte: I'm pleased to say your tendency has improved, but I am concerned about the future.
Madame Leon: I am acting on Mr. Gilbert's instructions. Mr. Gilbert desires the Japanese appearance, and what Mr. Gilbert desires, Mr. Gilbert must have! Fait accompli!