Words by W.S. Gilbert and Music by Arthur Sullivan
Nuffield Theatre,
June 1998
Cast List
John Wellington Wells
Mrs Partlet
Lady Sangazure
Debbie McGreed
Sir Marmaduke Pointdextre

Notes on this performance

89. The Sorcerer 

LOpSoc arrives…

The Sorcerer had only been performed by the Society twice, so it was well overdue another ‘airing’. David Rayner agreed to direct the show and was keen to reinstate some of Gilbert’s initial ideas (the original opening to Act 2, a duet between Aline and Alexis and the inclusion of an extra character - Ahrimanes). He was joined by Martin Paterson who had performed with the Society for four years and had already acted as Assistant MD three times. This, however, would be the first SOS production where he had full control of the music – the first of many as, at the time of writing, only D C Williams has been in charge more often. 

Martin had an immediate effect on the group as several of his colleagues from LOpSoc joined to support him and the injection of fresh enthusiasm was very noticeable. Three of the ‘ex-LOpSocians’ so impressed that they gained principal roles – Adam Case (John Wellington Wells), Mike Sharpe (Alexis) and Nichola McKinley (later to be Mrs Paterson) as Constance. Shaun Dodimead also made his SOS debut and, as several ex-Juniors (Katy Lewis, Alex Mackintosh, John Martin, Jo Short, David Tatnall and Natalie Wilde) were now performing with the ‘Seniors’, there was a large and lively chorus on stage. Ironically, The Sorcerer was to be Pam de Grouchy’s last ever stage performance – she played Mrs Partlet and was as accomplished as ever. Her final critique stated, ‘A nice little round busybody – bright face – looked the part. Dialogue good – nice accent maintained throughout.' 

David decided to set the show in 1998 (saving on costumes) and the Echo reported, ‘Gilbert and Sullivan is brought bang up to date in this imaginative, fun-filled production by David Rayner. With its heart-stopping sound effects, a brooding Gothic-inspired sorcerer complete with Dracula looks, and its jokes about everything from Spice Girls to Viagra, there’s more than a touch of the panto about it. But G&S devotees needn’t be too dismayed, for the musical score remains unadulterated and in fact this production re-instates some numbers which had all but disappeared from the 120 year-old operetta.

The musical strength of the production is provided by the sure voices of Alison Vincent as heroine Aline and Colin Sly as Sir Marmaduke Pointdextre, while tenor Mike Sharp as Alexis performed with a growing confidence which should develop through the production’s run. There’s a hard-working, exuberant chorus and an excellent tragic-comic element provided by Philip de Grouchy as Dr Daly. Adam Case has certainly made an impact in this his first year with the society by playing the Sorcerer in such a memorable way. He had the special effects on his side, of course – but Adam’s magical performance still got the biggest cheer of the night.’

This production was reprised in Buxton at the International Gilbert and Sullivan Festival, where it was well received by both the audience and the adjudicator (who would have preferred it not to have been updated). However, ticket sales in Southampton had been disappointing and The Sorcerer made a loss of £650.

Terry O'Farrell


Pam and Nicky

Pam de Grouchy (Mrs Partlet) in her last SOS role with Nicky McKinley (Constance)

Photo of Agreement Signing

Sandra Pettyfer (Lady Sangazure), Michael Sharpe (Alexis), Tony Austin (Notary), Alison Vincent (Aline), Colin Sly (Sir Marmaduke Pointdextre)

Photo of JWW

Michael Sharoe (Alexis), Adam Case (John Wellington Wells),Alison Vincent (Aline), Jo Short (Debbie McGreed)

Photo of Constance and Notary

Nicky McKinley (Constance) with Tony Austin (Notary)

Photo of Quintet

Alison Vincent (Aline), Michael Sharpe (Alexis), Philip de Grouchy (Dr Daly), Pam de Grouchy (Mrs Partlet), Colin Sly (Sir Marmaduke Pointdextre)