Words by and Music by Jacques Offenbach
The Guildhall,
March 1987
Director: Pam Hoskins
Cast List

Notes on this performance

67. Orpheus in the Underworld

Golden Guildhall…

With one eye firmly fixed on moving to the Gaumont, it must have been a little unsettling for the Society to be invited to start the Guildhall’s Golden Jubilee celebrations with their next production. Also, the recent practice of performing two shows a year, meant that the G&S favourites came round very frequently so the Committee decided to revert to Orpheus in the Underworld to mark the occasion.

They then had a dilemma! Last year they introduced tiered seating and, although it was well received (verified by Bryan Ham’s questionnaire results), it did cost £1800 and, with tickets priced at £4 to £1, that meant selling many seats. However, a grant from the TVS Trust for £1500 helped them to justify a repeat of the experiment

The chorus was back in force for the main show and, even after ‘removing’ 15 principals, there were still 31 to organise on stage (plus six children, five Can-Can Dancers and three ‘extras’); this job fell, once more, to Pam Hoskins whilst Philip Johnson returned as MD. Attendance at rehearsals was monitored closely but it was discovered that, according to the rules, 25% of the cast had actually forfeited their right to be in the show! The fact that Allen Mansell (Orpheus) had missed many sessions due to a sore throat did not help the situation either. Three members complained that the production was ‘too provocative’ and this was making ticket selling very difficult. Brian Howard was asked to discuss this with the Producer.

Monty Morris wrote his last Southampton Theatre Guild critique for this show (he died shortly after) and he did not seem to think that Orpheus was too provocative at all: ‘This production is so well produced, so well cast, so well sung and so well acted. With its pace, movements, groupings and sheer fun, it was a theatrical treat excelling even the high standards that SOS can so often achieve.’

He was quite taken by the live statues in the foyer and found Eurydice (Margaret Amey) to be, ‘bright, volatile, cute and very attractive. She looked good in her costumes (especially in Act III, Scene I!). Orpheus was extremely well played by Allen Mansell, he has a good stage presence and played the role with good delivery, timing, gesture and facial expressions – he also played the violin well! Calliope (Hazel Killham) came across strongly, with a clear well enunciated speaking voice. Wendy Dalton’s Cupid was a bright, pert and boyish god well suited to the part. Venus was accurately cast in Clair Hazelwood’s attraction, and charm and in her performance. Colin Sly (Pluto) was strong in voice, personality and character, it was a complete portrayal. If Jupiter had really existed then David Jupp, with his sheer ability and experience in acting, singing and characterisation, may well be his reincarnation.’

With the extra cost of royalties and tiered seating, the Committee had anticipated making a loss on Orpheus and they were not disappointed in that respect; they would have been surprised that ticket sales were down by £2000 though and were alarmed at losing £4995 on the project.

Terry O'Farrell

Photo of Orpheus

Center stage: Hazel Killham (Calliope) with Allen Mansell (Orpheus) far right

Photo of Trio

David Jupp (Jupiter), Colin Sly (Pluto), Catherine Baker (Juno)