Words by W.S. Gilbert and Music by Arthur Sullivan
The Guildhall,
March 1964
Cast List
Colonel Calverley
Major Murgatroyd
Lieutenant, The Duke of Dunstable
Reginald Bunthorne
Archibald Grosvenor
Lady Angela
Lady Saphir
Lady Ella
Lady Jane

Notes on this performance

37. Patience

Exit Mr and Mrs Nobbs…

Second-guessing the decisions of a committee is a futile task at the best of times, but the SAOS Committee of 1963/64 brought it to new heights. Having declared that producing an ‘old form’ of Patience would be a bad idea as it would not attract big audiences, they then decided to produce an ‘old form’ of Patience! In truth, by restricting themselves to G&S operas (and not all of those) they found their choices rather limited and it just happened that it was time for Patience to be performed again. The Nuffield opened in 1964 and it was resolved to consider it for future productions.

There had been a general feeling amongst the members that it was time for a change of Producer and, once notified of this, Mary Nobbs handed in her resignation. Bert Clague was persuaded to try his hand at directing and the ever-dependable D Cecil Williams continued as MD with Ian Carswell as his right hand man. Soon after this, Mr A W Nobbs (Mary’s husband) also resigned as Stage Manager, explaining that ‘he had found the duties increasingly onerous during the last few years and it had become impossible for him to continue with satisfaction to himself’. He had held the position since the end of the World War II and was replaced by Fred Gange.

All the principal parts were allocated except that of the Colonel for which nobody auditioned, so it was suggested to Bruce Ellery that he might like to reprise the role but he declined the offer. Les Harrison was interested but had another commitment on Mondays; however, concessions were made and he played the Colonel

The Echo reporter certainly appreciated the ‘old form’ and was much taken with the Dragoon Guards: ‘What a splendid collection of moustachioed fellows they are: what fine figures of men. It was the gusto of the male chorus that made the evening for me. After they were gone, things fell a bit lame!’ Of the production itself, he noted, ‘In Patience there’s too much talk and not enough good tunes and ginger. All the virtues are the company’s. This is comic opera in the good old grand manner and the large cast deserves full houses until Saturday night, when the run ends.’

Margaret Lawrence also made a good impression, ‘vivacious and good to listen to, is an ideal choice for the name part,’ whilst Marjory Kennedy as Lady Jane was, ‘a first-rate dead pan comedienne.’ Of the two male leads, he wrote, ‘The precious bards themselves, Tom Judd and Raymond Harris, pranced it up with a lovely sense of fun,’ However, he admitted that, ‘My favourites were the three stiff-jointed gallants of the Dragoons, Les Harrison, Robert Gibson and John Hoskins. They almost stopped the show when they pranced in velvet and lace in a game effort to out-prance the Aesthetics. Mr. Hoskins tenor is the best male voice in the cast.’ 

As anticipated, Patience did make a loss but, perhaps, not as great as first feared (sales were 20% down with a few weeks to go) as it only amounted to £14 2s 9d (£14.14). There were no donations to charity this year but Mr and Mrs Nobbs were given gifts to the value of £20 and £25 respectively in appreciation of their efforts.

Terry O'Farrell

Photo of Soldiers

Leslie Harrison (Colonel Calverley), John Hoskins (Lieutenant, The Duke of Dunstable), Bob Gibson (Major Murgatroyd)