Words by W.S. Gilbert and Music by Arthur Sullivan
The Guildhall,
March 1962
Cast List
Sir Joseph Porter
Captain Corcoran
Ralph Rackstraw
Dick Deadeye
Bob Becket
Bill Bobstay
Litte Buttercup

Notes on this performance

35. HMS Pinafore & Trial by Jury

Mrs Nobbs breaks her duck…

As HMS Pinafore had not been performed since 1952, it was thought to be a suitable production for 1962 and, since it is one of the shorter shows, Cox and Box was deemed the right choice to accompany it. Trial by Jury was also considered but it would have been more expensive to stage. There were some objections to these selections at the AGM, and the faction who wanted to move away from G&S made their feelings felt, claiming that ‘the gradual dying-out of G&S audiences would make it impossible to make productions pay’. 

Following on from the views expressed at the meeting, it was decided to replace Cox and Box by Trial by Jury after all – the extra cost would be minimised by only hiring costumes for the principals and bridesmaids. Furthermore, a costume fee of 7/6 (38p) a person would be implemented – this proposal was amended at the AGM to a charge of 15/- (76p) with 7/6 refunded should the member sell £5 worth of tickets.

Alfred Tomalin did some sums and worked out that savings of around £235 could be made on the hiring of the venue, rehearsal rooms and payments to the orchestra if only four performances were given. This was thought an experiment worth trying and, although two Dress Rehearsals were still considered necessary, only one would involve the orchestra – this run through would remain open for pensioners to attend but the numbers coming to it had fallen drastically in recent years. 

Mary Nobbs remained as Producer and D Cecil Williams continued to conduct but the Committee believed it was time for him to have help so Ian Carswell was asked to be his assistant. They nearly found enough principals to ensure there was no overlap between the productions (John Hoskins was both Edwin and Ralph) but it was ‘noted with regret that the cast chosen suggested a dearth of new talent in the Society’. 

The Echo reviewer seemed to be thinking about his dinner! First he decided that G&S was ‘like fish and chips’ before launching into: ‘A butterball of a tenor by name of John Hoskins rolled on the stage with a cherubic smile, scared into his performance and the cast contracted his enthusiasm without realising it. Trial by Jury sped its modest way because of him. HMS Pinafore had Tom Judd to commend it, in the autocratic role of Sir Joseph. He may be no physical colossus but he bestrode this performance like the veteran he is. And what an excellent piece of singing from Shirley Wort as the heroine. Her voice was as round as an apple and as sweet. Pinafore, because of some intelligent and competent work put in by Raymond Harris (Capt. Corcoran) and by Pamela Fulford (Little Buttercup), set sail under full canvas. G&S relies on a bold chorus. Here, perhaps, it could do with a bit of ginger.’

HMS Pinafore and Trial by Jury showed that not all followers of G&S had died and an impressive 4920 attended the five performances (including the pensioners) creating a profit of £144 4s 9d (£144.24). This was shared between the Friends of the South Hants, General, Children’s and Chest Hospitals, Talbot House and Cancer Campaign.

Terry O'Farrell

Photo of Ray and Pam

Ray Harris (Captain Corcoran) with Pam Fulford (Little Buttercup)

Photo of Trio

Ray Harris (Captain Corcoran), Shirley Wort (Josephine) and Tom Judd (Sir Joseph Porter)

Photo of Duo

Shirley Wort (Josephine) with John Hoskins (Ralph Rackstraw)