Words by W.S. Gilbert and Music by Arthur Sullivan
Various Schools,
July 1987
Director: Colin Sly
Cast List
Sir Joseph Porter
Captain Corcoran
Ralph Rackstraw
Dick Deadeye
Bob Bobstay
Bob Becket
Hebe (afternoons)
Little Buttercup

Notes on this performance

68. HMS Pinafore        

A lack of Patience…

The plan was to perform Patience at the Nuffield in June but by the New Year, a producer had not been found and the theatre booking was cancelled. Colin Sly (who was now Chair of the ‘Future of the Society’ sub-committee) suggested that this provided an excellent opportunity to work on the formation of a junior section. 

Various schools were approached and King Edwards VI, Ludlow Middle and Regents Park Girls’ Secondary agreed to host ‘master classes’ given by Society members in the afternoon and then a performance of HMS Pinafore in the evening. Colin Sly was the Producer with Philip Johnson the MD and the cast would have graced any major production - Peter Robson (Sir Joseph), Colin Sly (Corcoran), David Lewis (Ralph), David Jupp (Dick Deadeye), Claire Buston (Josephine), Margaret Amey (Hebe) and Pam Hoskins (Buttercup). Future long term Director of the Juniors, Wendy Dalton, and future Chairman, Jason Sly, both appeared in the small chorus.

All local schools were informed of the venture and interested children were invited to audition at the Chameleon Theatre premises in Shirley on three dates in August. In March 1988, the group performed The Mikado at The Avenue Hall and, since then, has gone from strength to strength: Annie, its next production, will be its 59th!

Initially, the group was formed to help feed the Society with new young members so, 27 years on, has it achieved that aim? Looking back at the last three shows, ex-Debut Youth Theatre (as the junior section is now known) members have certainly played their part – in Jesus Christ Superstar Steven Lilly performed the title role and Katy Lewis was in the chorus, Pinafore was directed by ex-junior David Tatnall and featured Katy Lewis, Ellen Sly, Joseph Wright and Matthew Pike, performing in Beauty and the Beast were Lucy Baston (Belle for one performance), Joseph Wright (LeFou), Natalie Buston (Babette), Ellen Sly (a Silly Girl), Danielle Betteridge and Katy Lewis and, in addition to that, current members Dominic and Amelia Sly, Sally Britton, Maria Willsher, Hannah Irvine and Ruby O’Farrell all performed with the Society during that period. Going back over 27 years, it is possible to count 47 (at least) different DYT members who made a contribution for SOS on the stage and that is not counting the large children’s choruses provided for Oliver (2001), Carmen (1992, 1999, 2011) and The Pirates of Penzance (1994). 

There have also been some unexpected benefits in forming DYT as it has tempted ten parents to perform themselves and Maureen Street to join the Wardrobe Team. Past members have also carried on the torch - David Tatnall formed Footlights Youth Theatre in Eastleigh, Chris Daniels started a G&S Society at Warwick University and Declan Wolfe a Stage School in Ireland. In addition, three ex-members now perform professionally; Rae Baker (Juliet Becker in The Bill), Nyle Wolfe (classical opera singer) and Laura Carmichael (Lady Edith Crawley in Downton Abbey).

The HMS Pinafore experiment may have lost £33 but it was money well invested.

Terry O'Farrell

There are no photos of any of the performances or rehearsals in the archives.