Words by W.S. Gilbert and Music by Arthur Sullivan
The Guildhall,
March 1971
Cast List
Sir Joseph Porter
Captain Corcoran
Ralph Rackstraw
Dick Deadeye
Bill Bobstay
Bob Becket
Litte Buttercup

Notes on this performance

44. HMS Pinafore & Cox and Box                                                                                                                                                                   

Charity begins at home…

It is rather ironic that, since the Committee decided to publicise the substantial amount of money it had donated to charities in the programme, the Society had lost nearly £1000 on two productions - perhaps they should have kept some back for a rainy day! However, alarm bells were now ringing loudly; some calculations were made and at the AGM it was declared that unless finances improved then SAOS might cease to exist within five years. 

The first task therefore, was to select an opera that would sell better than the previous two and, as its centenary was seven years away, HMS Pinafore was chosen (along with Cox and Box as a curtain raiser). Cecil Williams’ health had been causing some concern and the Committee decided that it ‘was not in his interest nor the Society’s interest to ask him to continue’. The MD was thanked and informed of the decision in writing; it was hoped that he would offer his resignation - the Society would then consider making him a Life Member. A letter of resignation was not received and Valerie Mansell was installed as the MD. After 24 years and 27 shows, a presentation was made to Cecil Williams but he did also receive his Life Membership.

The AGM did not try to appoint a new Chairman (members were asked to suggest names for future consideration) so Michael Ackerley continued to lead the group as Vice Chair. The Producer for both shows was to be Mr W C Archer but unexpected business commitments led to him resigning and Harold Dunford replaced him.

It was thought that by saving £250 on production costs and gaining £250 on ticket sales, then the Society’s financial problems would be resolved and a list of possible savings was drawn up, including - abolishing the payment of honoraria (not acted on, though Bob Gibson did donate his back to the Society), using amateurs / talented schoolchildren in the orchestra (not thought possible as it would lower standards) and giving the proceeds from the rehearsal raffle and refreshments to the production account rather than using it to subsidise trips to watch other societies’ shows (agreed).

The Echo reviewer (A John Heap), was not particularly impressed by Cox and Box as he thought, ‘the production was a little slow’ but added, ‘Tom Judd is the landlord; Ralph Denby, coping well as a late replacement, is Cox; and Box is played and sung with considerable efficiency by Barry Clark.’ Barry was a newcomer who left to join the D’Oyly Carte four months later. However, Mr Heap did like HMS Pinafore and was much taken by the romantic leads, ‘Outstanding are the hero and heroine, Ralph Rackstraw (John Hoskins) and Josephine (Jill Meager). Apart from their stage movements – which undoubtedly are good – their singing is thrilling. Both artists have been heard with this society before, but rarely have they performed better.’

Much to everyone’s relief, HMS Pinafore & Cox and Box was a financial success, making a profit of £144.67 (decimal currency had now been introduced) – it was thought prudent not to donate this to a charity…

Terry O'Farrell

The only photo of this show in the archives

Photo of the Crew

Front Row: Richard Ashton-Poole, Barry Clarke, Jim Chilvers, Edward Chilvers (Midshipman), Peter Hill, ?, Nicholas Short (Bill Bobstay), Dennis Gooch (Dick Deadeye) Back Row: Douglas Huggins, Bert Wareham, Peter Bell, Douglas Greenwood, Mr Waldron, ?, Eric Miles, Michael Lawrence (Bob Becket), Barry Oake, Bert Clague, Leslie Harrison, ?

A  photo from the Echo of the on-stage action

 LB books dog

Coming to you in January 2022!