Words by W.S. Gilbert and Music by Arthur Sullivan
Nuffield Theatre,
June 1992
Director: David Rayner
Cast List
Sir Ruthven Murgatroyd
Richard Dauntless
Sir Despard Murgatroyd
Sir Roderic Murgatroyd
Old Adam Goodheart
Rose Maybud
Dame Hannah
Mad Margaret

Notes on this performance

77. Ruddigore

At the seaside…

W S Gilbert had planned that his satire on Victorian melodrama would be entitled Ruddygore but was persuaded that the title was too coarse and would disturb the more genteel customers, so it was changed. Some 105 years later, David Rayner (making has debut as a producer) was tempted to revert to Gilbert’s original title and, although not quite so concerned about upsetting people, he eventually decided to stick with the more conventional spelling as it would be less confusing to potential audiences. David Tizzard had been elected as Chairman at the AGM but stood down soon after Carmen citing ‘pressure of work’ so Ted Starks was promoted from the position of Vice Chair.

Lesley Wellman was named as Co-Producer and was very active with the choreography, whilst Paul Spanton made his first appearance as an MD for SOS. There were two other significant members of the Society who made their debuts in this show; Alison Vincent was an accomplished Rose Maybud, whilst Paul Webb was brought in late to strengthen the men’s chorus. Unfortunately, David Rayner’s vision for Act 2 involved the ghostly ancestors being represented by characters from horror fiction and Paul performed as the Mummy and was totally encased in bandages! He possibly fared better than Terry O’Farrell who was motionless in a suit of armour.

Strobe lighting was used for the first time in an SOS production and smoke machines also dominated the proceedings -Sir Roderic’s entrance involved so much smoke that David Jupp could not be seen until he was well into When the Night Wind Howls. The coffin used in this scene was provided courtesy of Funeral Directors, John Steel & Son Ltd. whilst the Act 2 Finale would have been of special interest to G&S fanatics as David resurrected Gilbert’s original ending.

Whilst Act 2 had a reasonably traditional feeling to it, Act 1 took place on a beach and featured the ladies’ chorus in Edwardian swimming costumes and included two changing huts, from which the Bridesmaids (led by Sam Willis and Margaret Amey) poked their heads out to sing Hail the Bridegroom, Hail the Bride. This setting also gave David the opportunity to hide Mad Margaret (Rae Baker - in her last SOS show) on stage; she spent the time up to her entrance sat on a deck chair facing away from the audience. David, himself, played Sir Despard and, sporting a snorkel, goggles and a shark’s fin on his back, he made his entrance from the sea (orchestra pit) to the theme from Jaws from which he terrorised the sunbathers. All was well until one night he stood up too quickly, had trouble climbing out of the pit and nearly fainted! 

The rest of the cast featured Colin Sly (Sir Ruthven), Tony Austin (Old Adam), Lyn Austin (Dame Hannah) and Chris Hackett (Richard Dauntless), who was brought in from Petersfield Operatic Society – looking elsewhere for a principal is never a popular decision but even those upset by the move would concede that he was good.

It was a hot summer and Ruddigore is not an easy show to sell but this one deserved better than making a loss of £2475.

Terry O'Farrell

 Rayner looking like a fool

David Rayner with the Bridesmaids - standing: Julie Hiscott, Sam Willis (Zorah), kneeling: Philippa Eldridge, Anita James, sitting: Wendy Dalton, Margaret Amey (Ruth)

Mad Margaret 

 Rae Baker (Mad Margaret) with Alison Vincent (Rose Maybud)


 Rae Baker (Mad Margaret), David Rayner (Sir Despard Murgatroyd) and Colin Sly (Sir Ruthven Murgatroyd) 

photo of jupp 

David Jupp (Sir Roderick Murgatroyd) and Lyn Austin (Dame Hannah)