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FUMGASS Unites

FUMGASS unites those interested in the history and production of the canon of Gilbert and Sullivan works and provides financial support and stability to UMGASS, the University of Michigan Gilbert and Sullivan Society.

 

FUMGASS is a non-profit organization.

 

UMGASS is a non-profit, student-run organization that is supported through ticket sales and private donations made to FUMGASS.

 

UMGASS brings together university students, university faculty and staff, and community residents to produce the works of William S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan, twice each year. These fully-staged productions are performed with live orchestra at the Lydia Mendelssohn Theatre in downtown Ann Arbor.

 

The University of Michigan Gilbert and Sullivan Society is the nation’s oldest student-run society dedicated to performing the operettas of Sir William Gilbert and Sir Arthur Sullivan. This organization offers participants opportunities to exercise and master their artistic craft, whether it be set design, costume construction, orchestral playing, or singing and dancing. Of equal importance, UMGASS gives its participants the opportunity to develop leadership and team-building skills, develop long lasting friendships, and become a part of a tradition that was born in 1947. UMGASS also provides a great community service, providing our audiences quality entertainment, while educating them on the legacy and legend of Gilbert and Sullivan operettas.

1. Community Interest:

To engender and maintain community interest in the University of Michigan Gilbert and Sullivan Society (UMGASS) and the Gilbert & Sullivan operas.

2. Support of UMGASS:

To provide such financial support to UMGASS as the Board of Directors may deem proper, including providing opportunities for scholarships to deserving members of UMGASS.

3. Assistance to UMGASS:

To provide advice and assistance to the UMGASS Executive Board when requested. UMGASS has shown itself able to manage its own affairs and FUMGASS should in no way become involved with UMGASS management unless specifically requested to do so by the president of UMGASS.

4. Publication of GASBAG: To ensure the publication of GASBAG on a more-or-Iess regular basis, and to serve as an international medium of exchange for news and opinions pertaining to the Gilbert & Sullivan operas.

5. Fellowship: To provide a chance for Geeandessophiles to meet other kindred souls

(including members of UMGASS) in social or working environments.

Mission and Bylaws

The overall mission of FUMGASS is five-fold and is best expressed in this excerpt from the 2009 Bylaws. (The full document may be found HERE.)

About Us

History

FUMGASS was founded in the fall of 1969. That year, ticket sales from the disastrous summer show Paint Your Wagon bankrupted UMGASS and left the Society deeply in debt. Because UMGASS is a student organization affiliated with the University of Michigan, it did not have any financial reserves. The University threatened to close UMGASS down. Faculty advisors Harry and Betty Benford (and perhaps others) paid the bills and guaranteed the Society’s finances. The planned production of Ruddigore was replaced by Pinafore in the fall of 1969 followed by Pirates in the spring of 1970.  Done on shoestring budgets, the debts were paid off and the coffers reasonably replenished.

 

That fall, the Benfords and John Allen established FUMGASS to raise funds for the group through annual membership donations that could provide a financial cushion for UMGASS should another shortfall recur. In the original governance structure, John Allen was Absolute Despot, Harry and Betty Benford were Wise Men (with obvious allowances being made for Mrs. Benford), and the current UMGASS president ex officio was Public Exploder who could blow the whole thing up if ever the UMGASS Board decided FUMGASS wasn't a good idea anymore.  (In actuality, John Allen served more-or-less as treasurer, and the Benfords ran the rest.)

 

Since then, FUMGASS has attracted to its board and membership people from the audience, casts and production staff who love UMGASS productions and want to ensure its financial security and longevity.

In 1999, FUMGASS took an important step becoming a 501c(3) nonprofit organization allowing all membership contributions to be tax deductible. The Society’s bylaws were updated at the same time. The bylaws were amended again in 2009 to more carefully delineate board functions and they remain in effect. The full document can be seen HERE

 

Although the need for FUMGASS to provide financial support has happened rarely since 1969, the current financial climate and declining audiences have meant reduced revenues. FUMGASS has once again been subsidizing UMGASS productions.

Mission and Bylaws

The overall mission of FUMGASS is five-fold and is best expressed in this excerpt from the 2009 Bylaws. (The full Bylaws document may be found here.)

1. Community Interest:

To engender and maintain community interest in the University of Michigan Gilbert and Sullivan Society (UMGASS) and the Gilbert & Sullivan operas.

2. Support of UMGASS:
To provide such financial support to UMGASS as the Board of Directors may deem proper.
 

3. Assistance to UMGASS:

To provide advice and assistance to the UMGASS Executive Board when requested. UMGASS has shown itself able to manage its own affairs and FUMGASS should in no way become involved with UMGASS management unless specifically requested to do so by the president of UMGASS.

4. Publication of GASBAG:

To ensure the publication of GASBAG on a more-or-Iess regular basis, and to serve as an international medium of exchange for news and opinions pertaining to the Gilbert & Sullivan operas.

5. Fellowship:

To provide a chance for Geeandessophiles to meet other kindred souls

(including members of UMGASS) in social or working environments.

President: Brynn Raupagh

Brynn joined UMGASS in 2001 as chorus member where she has happily remained in both female and male guise with occasional walk-on parts. She also served as UMGASS secretary, FUMGASS vice president, and coordinator of the 60th Anniversary Celebration. Brynn was previously a member and secretary, vice president and president of The Arbor Consort, an Ann Arbor a cappella group. Now retired, Brynn was a freelance museum exhibit developer and partner in her husband’s home remodeling business.

Vice President: Vacant

Could be you!

Treasurer: Alexandra Kahn Roselle

Ali is a former UMGASS president and treasurer and has performed onstage in various lead and supporting roles with UMGASS since 2007. She is a dual graduate of the UM Ross School of Business (BBA, MAcc) and UM School of Music, Theatre & Dance (BMA, Voice Performance). Ali is a registered CPA and a former PricewaterhouseCoopers auditor; she currently works as a financial planning and analysis director for WarnerMedia/HBO in New York.  She is married to UMGASS alum Jon Roselle, to whom she famously got engaged during the curtain call of UMGASS's 2013 production of Pirates of Penzance (http://www.annarbor.com/entertainment/umgass-pirates-of-penzance-performance-ends-in-cast-members-engagement/).

Secretary: Vacant

Could be you!

Keeper of the Rolls: Brenda Kerr

Brenda enjoys musical theater of all kinds and discovered UMGASS productions several years ago. She has enjoyed getting to know Gilbert and Sullivan beyond "The Pirates of Penzance." Brenda works in IT for Washtenaw County, managing the enterprise applications team, and golfs, gardens, and reads in her spare time. 

GASBAG Editor: Sarah McNitt

Sarah McNitt is a long-time Gilbert & Sullivan fan whose participation in UMGASS productions has thus-far been limited to years of (quietly) singing along from the audience.  Now she has taken a more active (but equally quiet) role by becoming editor of FUMGASS’s member newsletter, GASBAG (Gilbert And Sullivan Boys And Girls).  Sarah is a five-time Jeopardy! champion and works for the Michigan Institute for Computational Discovery & Engineering at the University of Michigan.

Archivist and Historian: Daniel Florip

Dan Florip appeared in five UMGASS productions, ran the makeup department for six more, served as President of UMGASS in 2002-03, and directed The Mikado in 2006. He edited GASBAG for five years starting in 2009. Dan spends most of his time working as a transactional and estate planning attorney in Alpena, Michigan. Sometimes his archiving the history of UMGASS takes a back seat to playing golf, home improvements, traveling, researching family history, and fathering two crazy young boys.

Member at Large: Kathy Askew

Katherine Askew is a graduate of Oberlin College where she performed in Iolanthe, Ruddigore and other theater projects. She earned a Master of Music degree from the Juilliard School of Music and an M.S. in Organizational Development from American University (NTL), later working for Mass Mutual, American Express, CB Richard Ellis, and numerous dot coms before becoming a serial entrepreneur. She was awarded an Outstanding Teacher Award from Columbia University’s Executive Management Program.  She and her husband live on a nearby lake with their two Labradoodles and 21-year-old cat. By joining the FUMGASS board Katherine returns to her love of music and theater and hopes to use her business experience to strengthen the presence of UMGASS in the local community.

Member at Large: Mitchell Gillett

Mitch started performing with UMGASS the moment he hit town in 1987. Joining the FUMGASS board in the mid-90s to help with the 50th anniversary, he later edited the GASBAG from 2004 to 2009.  Moving to Rogers City in 2019, he is now a freelance opera director.   He has performed roles with UMGASS, Main Street Opera, Southern Ohio Light Opera, The Colorado Gilbert and Sullivan Festival, Arbor Opera Theatre, MOT, The Buxton (UK) International Festival, and the Comic Opera Guild (COG).  He has directed productions for the COG, AACT, West Michigan Savoyards, UMGASS, and the Croswell Opera House. 

Member at Large: Allison Hawkins

Bio to come

FUMGASS Past Presidents

Harry Benford               Fall 1969 – Fall 1978

Gloria Bennish              Fall 1978 – Spring 1981

Lee Vahlsing                 Summer 1981

Joe Beitel                      Summer 1981 – Fall 1982

Mary Locker                  Fall 1982 – Winter 1983

David Goldberg            Winter 1983 – Fall 1993

Margie Warrick             Spring 1993 – Fall 2005

Don Devine                   Fall 2005 – Spring 2020

Brynn Raupagh             Spring 2020 – present

Current Board Members

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