Words by Phil Park and Music by Jacques Offenbach
The Guildhall,
March 1981
Director: Bertram Dobson
Cast List
Baroness Gondremarck
Baron Gondremarck
Station Master

Notes on this performance

55. La Vie Parisienne

Back to Offenbach…

The Society of the late 70s / early 80s certainly had a more adventurous spirit compared to that of some of its predecessors. True, G&S remained its staple diet but it also introduced a summer show, attempted Carmen successfully and ventured into the unknown with Orpheus in the Underworld. It was now eager to explore Offenbach further with La Vie Parisienne.

A new Producer was found in Bertram Dobson (a popular choice, plus he had directed the show twice before at Winchester and Andover) whilst David Frost continued as MD. Both of them had assistants called Pamela – Hoskins and Bennett respectively - whilst Molly Gibson was the Stage Manager. Negotiations with the Southampton City Orchestra were not very promising as they wanted more than the £833 paid last year and eventually £1000 was agreed. For once, the Committee budgeted for a loss, estimating that the cost of the production would be £9780 (50% more than Iolanthe) – consequently Jim Chilvers led a fund raising group to help offset the damage. They held coffee mornings, a grand draw and a disco at Lyndhurst and raised £450.

The principal auditions produced a full cast but there was disappointment that more members had not put themselves forward. In January, four members were warned of their poor attendance at rehearsals and three of them were eventually prevented from appearing in the show. With a month to go, the Treasurer, Dennis Gooch, estimated that the show would make a loss of £2500.

Extra publicity (in the form of an article in the Echo) was gained thanks to involving James Buckley, the great-great-grandson of Jacques Offenbach. He lived in Burridge (near Park Gate) and was invited to the show and to meet the company afterwards.

The Echo described the show as a ‘Scintillating performance’ and thought it to be ‘an excellent choice with an abundance of catchy, if not memorable tunes, and a strong vein of humour running throughout.’ 

A more detailed review in Eric and Joan Wood’s Music Diary commended the ‘strong team of soloists. The roles of Raoul and Bobinet were admirably taken by David Lewis and Colin Sly respectively. Brazil, newcomer David Danson, was a colourful and amusingly eccentric character providing much laughs throughout. So too, was Baron Gondresmarck, John Hoskins, who, with Pauline, played by Pamela Hoskins gave us more laughs by their superb acting and timing in Act II. Gillian Charnley was suitably cast as Gabrielle, and excelled in her duet with Brazil. Hazel Kilham was a charming Metella and Susan Rhodes a haughty Baroness Gondresmarck, whose words, like the other soloists were nearly always projected well. The chorus always appeared involved in their scenes and sang with enthusiasm.’

La Vie Parisienne did indeed make a loss but not as badly as once feared; £1664 was declared at the AGM but that did not take Jim’s fund raising into consideration.

Terry O'Farrell

Photo of Quintet

John Hoskins (Baron Gondremarck), Pam Hoskins (Pauline), Nicholas Short (Jacques), Daphne Shaw (Louise), Colin Sly (Bobinet)

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