Words by Phil Park and Music by Johann Strauss
The Guildhall,
March 1985
Director: Ricky Price
Cast List
Rosalinda Eisenstein
Gabriel Eisenstein
Doctor Falke
Prince Orlofsky
Doctor Blint

Notes on this performance

63. Die Fledermaus

The professional touch…

Brian Howard became the first SOS Chairman to wear the new badge of office that was donated by Eva Thorne - a lady who was instrumental in the Society’s formation in 1924 and the break with the Dramatic Society in 1930 (sadly, she died before the Mayor ‘officially’ presented it). Another first was to employ Ricky Price, a professional producer, for Die Fledermaus. His duties would involve setting the action early on and then returning to polish the show near the end of the rehearsal period - his assistant, Pam Hoskins, would run rehearsals in his absence. Philip Johnson continued as MD and when Ken Spencer changed his mind, Ray Olden took over from him as Stage Manager but Tony and Lyn Austin ‘ran the corner’.

Brian informed the members about the decision to involve a professional and warned them that Ricky was a taskmaster, lateness would not be tolerated and books must be down by the time he starts rehearsing. He had directed several shows for SMS and his involvement was seen as an excellent opportunity to raise SOS’s standards further. 

Not everything went to plan though. Ricky’s need for rehearsals over the Christmas and New Year holidays resulted in six dropping out of the show (for the first seven sessions only 13 out of 50 achieved a 100% record), Clive Weekes was unavailable to do the lighting and The Chantry Hall was hired for two hours to audition pointe ballet dancers but nobody turned up! Meanwhile, the plan to make the set at Nursling following Ken Spencer’s sketches had to be abandoned when he withdrew his permission to use them, so one was hired instead. Ricky’s vision was also proving expensive as he required matching antique tables and chairs on the set and wanted the costumes a week earlier than planned to allow a run through in full costume.

The input from a professional producer was noticed by the Echo critic, who reported ‘Members of Southampton Operatic Society have every reason to be delighted with their presentation of Die Fledermaus. Opening nights can be a headache for any company but thorough rehearsal pays dividends and the audience was able to sit back and enjoy both the continuous stream of lilting melodies and the humour developed to the full in Ricky Price’s production without distraction.

Jillian Charnley and John Hoskins seemed to have natural qualities making them particularly suitable for the parts of Adele (the maid) and Frank (the prison governor) respectively. The other main principals – Hazel Kilham (Rosalinda Eisenstein), Colin Sly (Gabriel Eisenstein), John Gough (Doctor Falke), Margaret Amey (Prince Orlofsky) were all first class. Together with the remainder of the characters played by Clifford Lassam, Jacqueline Ames, Nicholas Short and Les Harrison, they made a splendid cast.’

Die Fledermaus made a substantial loss (to be repeated on two further occasions), this time to the tune of £4239. Ricky Price’s fee was £962 and this was partially covered by a Grand Auction (organised by Valerie Hickox) which raised £650.

Terry O'Farrell

A sample photograph of the production.

Photo of Ball

Jillian Charnley (Adele - blue dress), Margaret Amey (Prince Orlofsky - red suit), Colin Sly (Gabriel Eisenstein), John Hoskins (Frank)