Words by W.S. Gilbert and Music by Arthur Sullivan
The Nuffield Theatre,
June 1980
Cast List
Sir Joseph Porter
Captain Corcoran
Ralph Rackstraw
Dick Deadeye
Bill Bobstay
Bob Becket
Little Buttercup
Young Sailor

Notes on this performance

54. HMS Pinafore                                                                                                                                                                 

In Eastleigh’s footsteps…

The Committee had become much better organised with its forward planning and began working on a plan for future productions up until 1984. The idea of having a summer show at The Nuffield soon surfaced again (Eastleigh Operatic Society had already performed at the venue) and, although John Hoskins maintained that the venture was doomed to failure, his proposal to forget the project was defeated by 7 votes to 3. HMS Pinafore was considered as a suitable show for the experiment and Secretary Cynthia Newman explained in her report, ‘It is debatable whether the acting membership as a whole wish to participate in two productions per year, but it is certain that some members do wish to involve themselves in this way.’

HMS Pinafore brought about a complete change of production officers. Pam Hoskins was keen to perform again, Peter Robson wanted a break whilst Bob and Molly Gibson did not also need the commitment of a summer show. Graham Buchanan from the Maskers agreed to direct, David Frost moved up from Assistant MD and Ken Spencer (also from The Maskers) was happy to be Stage Manager. The current policy of changing the directing team after nearly every show had its beginnings here.

The rehearsal period appears to have been relatively calm. In his report Graham Buchanan admitted that ‘a rehearsal schedule would have been helpful and that the principals had received less rehearsal time than the chorus.’ He was happy with the performances of the principals, felt that the ladies’ chorus was good and thought that the men had worked hard but absenteeism remained a problem.

Eventually a smaller than usual chorus of 11 men and 16 ladies was put on stage to join a strong principal line up – with the exception of Andrew May, there was no evidence of new members playing main parts. The Echo stated that, ‘The large audiences may look forward with pleasure to a most entertaining evening. The zestful enjoyment and crisp, vigorous ensemble of the company, in eye-catching costumes, were supported by sound vocal quality throughout. This uniformly high standard was reflected in the cast soloists, of whom Philip de Grouchy as Sir Joseph entered into the spirit of the character with great conviction.

The redoubtable pairs, John Hoskins (Captain Corcoran) and Dennis Gooch (a splendidly grisly Dick Deadeye) had found their perfect roles, though it was a little puzzling to reconcile the obvious age difference on stage between the sailor-hero Ralph (Andrew May) with the facts of the already improbable plot. Avril Botto was a pretty Josephine, with a voice charmingly to match, and Pamela Hoskins won the approval of everyone – not only the captain! Supporting soloists (John Whale, Nicholas Short, Susan Rhodes) made the most of their opportunities and the whole cast was ably assisted by a small orchestra under the firm direction of David Frost.’

Every effort was made to keep to a strict budget and, much to everyone’s delight, HMS Pinafore made a healthy profit of £867.

Terry O'Farrell

Photo of Porter

Andrew May (Ralph Rackstraw), Philip de Grouchy (Sir Joseph Porter), John Hoskins (Captain Corcoran)

Photo of Ralph

Dennis Gooch (Dick Deadeye), Andrew May (Ralph Rackstraw), Susan Rhodes (Hebe)

Photo of Finale

Andrew May (Ralph Rackstraw), Avril Botto (Josephine), Dennis Gooch (Dick Deadeye), John Hoskins (Captain Corcoran), Pam Hoskins (Little Buttercup)

 LB books dog

Coming to you in January 2022!