Words by W.S. Gilbert and Music by Arthur Sullivan
The Nuffield Theatre,
June 1981
Director: Pam Hoskins
Cast List
Sir Ruthven Murgatroyd
Richard Dauntless
Sir Despard Murgatroyd
Old Adam Goodheart
Sir Roderic Murgatroyd
Rose Maybud
Mad Margaret
Dame Hannah

Notes on this performance

56. Ruddigore

Musical Chairs SOS-style…

If the Society had hoped that the summer show would give some of the chorus a chance to perform in principal roles (which was suggested at committee), then it had overlooked the fact that a directing team will usually choose the best person available and in the cast list for Ruddigore, Jennifer Swift is the only ‘unknown’ to gain a named part (Ruth – one of the professional bridesmaids).

It was a case of musical chairs for the directing team as Bertram Dobson moved from Producer to MD (the first person to fill both positions for the Society) and Pam Hoskins returned as Producer – this decision was not without controversy as she had decided to perform in this opera and the Committee had to bend its rules a little to allow her to audition for Mad Margaret and then return to the Casting Committee to select the other principals. The versatile Ken Spencer returned as Stage Manager. 

Running two shows in a year was having an effect on the Secretary who suddenly had her workload doubled, so 1981 saw the introduction of a Production Liaison Officer to the Committee and the first incumbent was Andrew May – the Society could also now boast of having two singing policemen as Andrew was joined on stage by new member Tony Austin. Another ‘future star’, Margaret Amey, made her SOS debut in the chorus for this show.

The strong principal line up included Philip de Grouchy (Sir Ruthven Murgatroyd), Colin Sly (Richard Dauntless), Dennis Gooch (Sir Despard), Nicholas Short (Old Adam), John Hoskins (Sir Roderic), Jillian Charnley (Rose Maybud), Pam Hoskins (Mad Margaret), Catherine Baker (Dame Hannah) and Avril Botto (Zorah).

Unfortunately, nobody thought to invite a reviewer from the Echo to Ruddigore so there is only a rather bland report from the Theatre Guild to refer to for information. This established that: ‘The production had good pace, with only an occasional slowness, and the humour was evident in abundance. The voices of the principals (perhaps with just one exception) did full justice to the music, with the chorus supporting superbly, as always, and all ably backed by the very competent orchestra.

The settings were simple and adequate, if not terribly imaginative. The lighting helped in this respect by varying constantly, always well-timed and providing mood and depth. The opening of the piece was most interesting, with, during the overture, the entire cast assembled on stage in their various groups, while the spots moved from one group to another. The cast did well to hold their frozen positions for so long a period, and I wonder whether a similar device, adding point, perhaps, to both scenes, could have been used for the Ancestors in their picture frames in Act II, instead of materialising them in an unconvincing and too facile manner during the black-out.’

For the second time in a row, the summer show made a profit - albeit a smaller one than the previous year but £287 in the bank is better than making a loss.

Terry O'Farrell

Photo of Rose

Colin Sly (Richard Dauntless) with Jillian Charnley (Rose Maybud)

Photo of Margaret

Pam Hoskins (Mad Margaret) with Dennis Gooch (Sir Despard Murgatroyd)

Photo of Roderic

John Hoskins (Sir Roderic Murgatroyd), Catherine Baker (Dame Hannah), Philip de Grouchy (Sir Ruthven Murgatroyd)

 LB books dog

Coming to you in January 2022!