Words by W.S. Gilbert and Music by Arthur Sullivan
The Guildhall,
February 1984
Director: Pam Hoskins
Cast List
King Hildebrand
King Gama
Princess Ida
Lady Psyche
Lady Blanche
Drum Majorette
Musical Director

Notes on this performance

61. Princess Ida

A Diamond Jubilee…

After the stress inflicted by Carmen in 1978 several of the Society’s officers decided that, come the AGM, it was time to step down and the exertions experienced in a hectic 1983 had a similar effect; Sally Thompson (Chairman), Jenny Swift (Secretary) and Dennis Gooch (Treasurer) did not seek re-election and their positions were taken by Brian Howard, Elizabeth Hill and Colin Sly respectively. Christine Spacey was then voted in as the new Business Manager with Jim Chilvers her assistant. 

Pam Hoskins and Philip Johnson had already been re-instated as the directing team and Ken Spencer was willing to make the set (aided by Ray Olden and Phil Dennis) and act as Stage Manager. David Frost had complained that the City of Southampton Orchestra had been erratic in the last show, mainly due to the same players not being available every night, so his successor also had a problem to solve.

The principals were cast in October and most parts also had a stand-in. Claire Rutter received the minor principal role of Chloe and a new tenor, Stephen Hill, was given Hilarion – another newcomer, David Jupp, was in the chorus. Jillian Charnley was cast as Ida and, when interviewed by The Echo, declared, ‘It’s the most beautiful singing part I’d always hoped to do but never thought I’d get it because I am not the tall person usually chosen.’ By December the costumes were causing a problem so the Chairman and PLO decided it wise to visit Grace Bound and see what her plans were to complete the task in time; this resulted in some costumes being hired. Both Radio Solent and Hospital Broadcasting requested to record one performance and Christine Spacey arranged an appearance on Southern Television.

Like most of Pam Hoskins’ shows, the production had some very imaginative moments, most notably at the end of Act 1 when Gama and his three sons were thrown into a prison constructed in the foyer of The Guildhall. The Echo reported: ‘In the title role, Jillian Charnley was in excellent vocal form and gave a confident portrayal. Playing Hilarion, Stephen Hill had some difficulties with his intonation in Act 1, but greatly improved later – more support will guarantee security to his upper notes. Philip de Grouchy excels in playing elderly men and his portrayal of King Gama is a strong and humorous characterisation. His opposite number, John Hoskins, uses a wealth of experience in creating a commanding King Hildebrand. Lively performances came from Clifford Lassam and Colin Sly, Hilarion’s friends, and the three were extremely funny when dressed as ladies. The warrior sons of Gama, Dennis Gooch, John Whale and Peter Hill sang out strongly and it was a joy to hear their resonant tones. A final word of praise is due to Philip Johnson and his orchestra which seems to be much larger this year. Mr. Johnson was neatly always successful in achieving a precise rapport between singers and players and any small blemishes in this respect will no doubt disappear as the week progresses.’

Ticket sales for Princess Ida were nearly £3000 down on The Mikado and the costumes cost over £1000 more, so a loss of £2184 was somewhat inevitable.

Terry O'Farrell

Photo of Company

Most of the Company with John Hoskins (King Hildebrand - centre) and Jillian Charnley (Princess Ida - in white behind the soldiers)