Words by W.S. Gilbert and Music by Arthur Sullivan
Nuffield Theatre,
June 1983
Director: Pam Hoskins
Cast List
Major-General Stanley
The Pirate King
Sergeant of Police

Notes on this performance

60. The Pirates of Penzance   

One month - two countries - three shows …

The members and organisers of 1983 must have been a special breed, not only did they perform the usual two main shows but managed to squeeze in a trip to Austria as well – the summer show, The Pirates of Penzance, opened at The Nuffield less than three weeks after their return from the continent! Considering the problems that this introduced, it was essential that a well-known (and fairly short) opera was selected.

Philip Johnson thought that another show was asking a bit too much and David Frost replaced him as MD but Pam Hoskins was still going strong, so too were the cast of 33, many of whom appeared in all three productions – Jason Sly was one of them, this time as one of the ‘apprentice’ pirates. Principal auditions were held a week after the Guildhall performance had finished and then three music rehearsals were arranged prior to the trip to Austria. On their return, rehearsals were organised for every evening (including weekends) from Monday 6th to Saturday 18th June – accompanist, Robin Bennett, must have been exhausted!

Peter Hill had discovered that the library service now operated a free lending scheme and Chris Milne took on the job of borrowing the required number of scores. The Heart Foundation requested that they could make a ‘seat to seat’ collection at the show but this was thought to be too intrusive on the audience. The part of Frederic was causing problems and had to be re-auditioned between Mike Standing and Bob Gibson before being given to Andrew May… Meanwhile, The Mikado was reprised as a concert in Romsey in aid of RAODs and, with the 60th Anniversary of the Society due in 1984, Jim Chilvers had compiled a souvenir album, complete with many pictures from the archives, to mark the occasion.

The Echo review made mention of the Society’s recent adventures abroad before referring to the actual show, ‘Once again Pamela Hoskins is responsible for a colourful show in which her inventive flare brings out the essential humour. Topical matters also make themselves apparent and the inclusion of a woman policeman is an amusing touch. The chorus showed a ready response to the action and to each other so that there was always plenty of life. Care had been taken to include many younger members of the Society as daughters of Major General Stanley and the performance of seventeen-year-old Claire Rutter as Mabel was excellent. Jennifer Swift as Isabel also included several humorous touches in her imaginative portrayal.

Philip de Grouchy can always be relied upon to put across quick patter well and his characterisation of Stanley had both humour and warm-hearted appeal. Colin Sly made a flamboyant Pirate King, while Andrew May carried conviction as Frederic. Catherine Baker’s well sung and acted Ruth was well received and Dennis Gooch made an admirable forceful Sergeant of Police.’

The busiest year in the Society’s history ended with yet another financial success as The Pirates of Penzance made a profit of  £851.

Terry O'Farrell

Photo of Mabel

Andrew May (Frederic) with Claire Rutter (Mabel). Seated: Louise Templeton (Kate), Margaret Amey (Edith)

Photo of Paradox

Colin Sly (The Pirate King), Andrew May (Frederic), Catherine Baker (Ruth)


 LB books dog

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