Words by W.S. Gilbert and Music by Arthur Sullivan
The Guildhall,
March 1973
Director: Harold Dunford
Cast List
Sir Ruthven Murgatroyd
Richard Dauntless
Sir Despard Murgatroyd
Old Adam Goodheart
Rose Maybud
Mad Margaret
Dame Hannah
Sir Roderic Murgatroyd

Notes on this performance

46. Ruddigore                                                                                                                                                                   

Another cull…

Soon after The Mikado finished Valerie Nunns resigned as the MD. The Committee drew up a shortlist of potential replacements (including a young Paul Spanton) before deciding that Jill Meager would be ideal for the position. Ruddigore had been voted as the next show (convincingly) by ballot and Harold Dunford continued as Producer.

The first action of the new season was to hold an audition for all acting members from which they would be put into one of the following categories, 1a) Principal quality; 1b) Potential principal quality; 2. Useful chorus standard; 3) People who were dispensable; 4) People unable to make a valuable stage contribution but would be useful in concerts. Nearly 20 members either resigned or failed to attend and Miss Thompson pointed out the strain felt by many of them but Jill Meager was less sympathetic. Worse still, long-term member and former Social Secretary, Bert Wareham and new Assistant Business Manager, Richard Ashton-Poole were judged to be in category 3! Both wrote letters of protest (as did others) but they fell on deaf ears – apparently Bert’s movements on stage could be described as ‘very random’ and he was annoyed that acting ability had also been a consideration. Somehow, the two rated as ‘dispensable’ were persuaded to join the Front of House team.

Ten members from category 1a were selected for the principal parts but apparently, none from 1b were deemed suitable to be understudies. Harold Dunford expressed the view that there was insufficient time to rehearse both principals and understudies anyway. This problem was resolved by naming understudies (where possible), but only inviting them to the relevant rehearsals as spectators and then seeking coverage from other societies if deemed necessary.

The new apron stage at the Guildhall met with everyone’s approval (apart from those in the orchestra pit who had less space) and the show was an artistic success despite the trials and tribulations that preceded it. The Echo’s review began with, ‘Once a year SAOS help confound the myth that Southampton is a cultural desert.’ After heaping praise on the Act 1 Finale and the Ghost Scene, the reporter added, ‘The society has a balance between its fine chorus and some outstanding lead singers. Jillian Charnley belies her diminutive size with a voice of power and clarity. And John Hoskins, the lead tenor, cuts a very nifty hornpipe as well as using his voice to full advantage. He and Dennis Gooch had a fine if energetic duet, Peter Robson, the baritone, is strong dramatically. The other main soloists are Dennis Gooch, looking splendidly Dickensian as Sir Despard and Pamela Hoskins (a lovely contralto) who is thoroughly entertaining as Mad Margaret. It was a pleasure to hear a well-balanced professional orchestra, under the direction of Jill Meager’  

The poor attendance of pensioners at the Dress Rehearsal may have made a significant difference because Ruddigore lost the Society £232.28. On a happier note, life membership was conferred on four long serving members; Bert Wareham, Eva Thorne, Marjorie Kennedy and Lewis Whitworth.

Terry O'Farrell

Photo of Finale

Gillian Dando (Zorah) and Peter Robson (Sir Ruthven Murgatroyd)

 LB books dog

Coming to you in January 2022!