Words by W.S. Gilbert and Music by Arthur Sullivan
Nuffield Theatre,
June 1986
Cast List
Sir Marmaduke Pointdextre
Dr. Daly
John Wellington Wells
Lady Sangazure
Mrs. Partlet
Sorcerer's Apprentice

Notes on this performance

66. The Sorcerer 

Time for magic…

For only the second time, the Society decided to produce The Sorcerer – ten years earlier it made a small loss of £52 in the Guildhall so hopes were high that it would fare better at the Nuffield. After his impressive debut as a producer with The Zoo the Committee was pleased when Philip de Grouchy accepted the offer to ‘have another go’ and the choice of Pam Hoskins as his assistant was very reassuring. Peter Robson had been approached to be MD but he had plans to be in the show so Pam Bennett moved up to MD with David Frost assisting.

Initially, only 20 members wanted to be involved but, after some persuading, the company rose to 30 (including two non-singing performers used to swell the number of inhabitants of the village to 20). Advertisements for new members were also placed in the Echo and the Advertiser and attracted 13 potential performers but only five of them were considered satisfactory and just one of those was invited  into the show – a 61 year old soprano was told that the policy was not to accept ladies over 35 years old! The problem of what to do with all the costumes stored in Grace Bound’s house was temporarily solved by Colin Sly, who arranged for them to be moved to the Water Authority’s Eastleigh Depot. 

Meanwhile, the sub-committee looking at the future of the Society produced a report which, thanks to some of the ‘old school’, got bogged down with current contentious issues, such as the procedures for auditions and the need for all new members to serve a year in the chorus before applying for a principal part but it did also suggest that it might be worthwhile to consider the formation of a junior section.

After explaining that the plot was ‘full of holes’ and that it was Gilbert’s delight to lampoon the ludicrous conventions of ‘high’ opera, the Echo review decided, ‘It’s best to sit back and enjoy the many good things in this surprisingly under-performed piece, in the able and enthusiastic hands of the Operatic Society, produced on this occasion by Philip de Grouchy. There is idealistic young Alexis and his simpering fiancée Aline, a delightful partnership of Clifford Lassam and Gillian Charnley almost overcome by quivering romantic attachment. Another striking pair are David Jupp and Audrey Andrews (Sir Marmaduke and Lady Sangazure) who sing a wonderful duet contrasting their chilly outward politeness to each other with their real secret passions. Then, of course, there is the Sorcerer himself (Peter Robson) resplendent in what the well-dressed djinn-about-town is wearing (serge cloak with red satin lining) complete with an assistant (Sebastian O’Connor) who is a miniature replica of him and supplies evil chuckles at appropriate moments. There is no more to be said. It’s an evening of pure delight for those civilised people among us who appreciate the unrarified world of Gilbert and Sullivan.’

Financially, The Sorcerer of 1986 performed significantly worse than the 1976 version, making a loss of £1530; wisely the Committee had sanctioned several fund raising activities, including a sponsored walk, so the damage was somewhat limited.

Terry O'Farrell

Photo of JWW

Jillian Charnley (Aline), Clifford Lassam (Alexis), Peter Robson (John Wellington Wells), Sebastian O'Connor (Sorcerer's Apprentice)

Photo of tea drinking

Front: John Whale (Notary), Catherine Baker (Mrs Partlet), David Jupp (Sir Marmaduke Pointdextre), Colin Sly (Dr Daly). Back: Sebastian O'Connor (Sorcerer's Apprentice), Peter Robson (John Wellington Wells), Clifford Lassam (Alexis), Jillian Charnley (Aline)

Photo of Spell

Front: Peter Robson (John Wellington Wells), Audrey Andrews (Lady Sangazure), John Whale (Notary), Margaret Amey (Constance). Back: David Jupp (Sir Marmaduke Pointdextre), Catherine Baker (Mrs Partlet)

 LB books dog

Hopefully coming to you in early 2021!