Words by W.S. Gilbert and Music by Arthur Sullivan
Nuffield Theatre,
June 2008
Director: David Tatnall
Cast List
Robin Oakapple
Richard Dauntless
Sir Despard Murgatroyd
Old Adam Goodheart
Rose Maybud
Mad Margaret
Dame Hannah
Sir Roderic Murgatroyd
Zorah (Head Bridesmaid)
Fatty "Willy" Gilbers
Reverend O'Farrell
Craig Thickett
Brian Willoughby-Smythe
Sir Rupert Murgatroyd
Old Witch
Sir John Wellington-Wells
Sir Ko-Ko Murgatroyd
Sir Colonel Fairfax Murgatroyd
Sir Lord Tolloller Murgatroyd
Sir Major General Stanley
Sir Mikado of Japan Murgatroyd
Sir Jack Point Murgatroyd
Sir Pirate King Murgatroyd
Sir Marco Palmieri Murgatroyd
Sir Nanki-Poo Murgatroyd
Sir Sgt of Police Murgatroyd
Sir Cox & Box Murgatroyd
Sir Cox & Box Murgatroyd
Sir Reginald Bunthorne
Sir Learned Judge Murgatroyd
Sir Ralph Rackstraw Murgatroyd
Sir Guisseppe Palmieri Murg'd

Notes on this performance

109. Ruddigore 

Cricket and streaking…

In 2003 David Tatnall co-directed Ruddigore for the Juniors (now Debut Youth Theatre) but was not very pleased with the outcome. Consequently, he was keen to accept the offer to tackle the show again, ‘because it will help me to erase the memory of the junior version from my brain!’ He requested Philip Johnson as MD and he was thrilled to be asked again but sadly died before rehearsals began. Fortunately Nigel Finch, who was fairly new to the area, was curious to see what SOS had to offer.

David’s latest vision for Ruddigore did not disappoint and, as usual, was full of innovations. Act 1 was staged around a village cricket match with Rose Maybud (Annie Masters) the star player and Robin Oakapple (Matt Sturgeon) the team’s enthusiastic but inept captain. A mimed cricket match replaced the traditional dance sequence and was notable for Sir Despard (David Rayner) attempting to streak across the wicket as his ‘daily bad deed’, not to mention an over of sixes from the visiting captain, Fatty Willy Gilbers (Brian Quantrill). Members of the audience regretting the lack of dancing were instead treated to Richard Dauntless (Jason Sly) performing the worst-ever hornpipe complete with inappropriate ‘jazz hands’.

Act 2 had a more traditional feel to it, except the ghosts were all characters from other G&S operas (e.g. Sir Ko-Ko Murgatroyd, Sir Jack Point Murgatroyd, etc) and, in order to inflict ‘the agonies’ on Ruthven, they held hands and danced around him singing Hail the Bridegroom, Hail the Bride falsetto. David also reworked a routine for The Matter Trio that he had used in that DYT production - very successfully too as it won the Best Concerted Item Award at the Buxton International G&S Festival.

The Echo readily accepted the insertion of a cricket match: ‘The cricketing theme introduced by SOS in their modernisation of the script works perfectly well, but the retention of antiquated language, with its thee and thou, seemed anachronistic. The SOS production, still finding its feet on opening night, was a solid, confident affair, enlivened by flashes of wit. Annie Masters made a charming Rose Maybud and sang the role beautifully. But full marks must go to four excellent supporting performances by Eleanor Moreton (Mad Margaret), David Rayner (Sir Despard), Sandra Pettyfer (Dame Hannah) and Colin Sly (Sir Roderic). The first three were delicious comic turns, whilst Colin Sly brought some real dark heart to the story. The stage design was cleverly done and the interior of Ruddigore castle was particularly impressive.’

Apart from the odd letter of enraged complaint, Ruddigore was well received at Buxton. The Adjudicator began; ‘Far removed from a traditional production, this was a breath of fresh air with the cricketing metaphor played throughout the first act.’ and ended with, ‘I want to thank SOS for a lively, spirited evening and all their hard work in preparing and staging this innovative performance tonight.’

Ruddigore had been moved to the summer slot in the hopes that not having to pay royalties would result in it possibly breaking even - unfortunately it still lost £480.

Terry O'Farrell

 Photo of Sandra

Sandra Pettyfer (Dame Hannah) relates the story of the Murgatroyds whilst Richard Peaty (Sir Rupert) and Amanda Peaty (Old Witch) act it out

Photo of Rose and Robin

Annie Masters (Rose Maybud) with Matt Sturgeon (Robin Oakapple)

Photo of Mad Margaret

Annie Masters (Rose Maybud) with Eleanor Moreton (Mad Margaret)

Photo of Bridesmaids

Robin Martin (Dora), Ellen Sly (Nora), Katy Lewis (Aurora), Nicky McKinley (Leonora), Matt Sturgeon (Robin Oakapple), Vicky Wilson (Laura), Claire Hoyle (Pandora), Biba Tribensee (Zorah), Lydia Allen (Flora)

Photo of Ghosts

Colin Sly (Sir Roderic Murgatroyd - seated) with some of the G&S ancestors - Terry O'Farrell, Samuel Webb, Dominic Sly, Adam Case, Tony Austin, Les Pike, Nick Hollands, Nick Revels, Richard Peaty, Shaun Dodimead

Photo of Matter Trio

The Matter Trio - Matt Sturgeon (Sir Ruthven Murgatroyd/Robin Oakapple) behind David Rayner (Sir Despard Murgatroyd) with Eleanor Moreton (Mad Margaret)