Words by W.S. Gilbert and Music by Arthur Sullivan
The Guildhall,
March 1961
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

34. Ruddigore

The one year plan…

In ‘modern times’ the Society uses a five year plan to organise its future productions, so it seems very strange that the Committees of the 50s and 60s decided the next show shortly after the previous one had finished. They did, however, restrict themselves to the Savoy Operas (which, no doubt, simplified matters) but it was suggested in 1960 that they should leave their ‘comfort zone’ and attempt something different. A long discussion took place until finally, it was announced that the show for 1961 would be… Ruddigore. It was agreed to seek the views of the members with regards to what sort of opera would be performed the following year and, unsurprisingly, there was a ‘general expression of opinion to continue with G&S’.

There was another unusual incident at that AGM; the resolution that the annual subscription would not be increased was accepted but was then followed by a discussion as to whether people would have supported a movement to increase it should one have been made… Apparently they would have favoured paying more by a vote of 21 to 9 but by then, it was too late.

D Cecil Williams and Mary Nobbs (who, with three consecutive losses to her name, must have thought she was jinxed) were again voted in as the directing team and W O Skinner remained as Business Manager (with Miss Edith Evans as his assistant) and was promised that some of his duties would be taken over by others.

Attempts to form The Lesser Lights, giving more members the chance of performing principal parts, had failed due to lack of interest and this appears rather strange when comparing the casting for the 1961 Ruddigore with that of the 1953 production where there is a definite element of déjà vu. Tom Judd was still Sir Ruthven, Bernard Harman remained as Sir Roderic, Shirley Blakey had become Shirley Young but kept the part of Mad Margaret and Bert Clague had been ‘promoted’ from Old Adam to Sir Despard. For once there was no Marjorie Kennedy on stage, her accustomed role of Dame Hannah was given to Catherine Baker. John Hoskins (Richard Dauntless), Shirley Wort (Rose Maybud) and Robert McKenna (Old Adam) also featured and they were backed by 25 villagers/bridesmaids and 20 ghostly ancestors! 

At the beginning of March, receipts were £280 down on the previous year and the company was urged to make every effort to sell tickets. However there was a bigger problem to overcome, as there was no guarantee that The Guildhall would even be open! Mr Nobbs reported in January that the stage had suffered considerable fire damage. Apparently the Corporation would pay for the erection of a scaffolding gantry to carry temporary curtains and some lights and would ‘supply the wire to bring the electric current to the stage’ but the Stage Manager declared that he would need a lot of help to get things ready in time.

Ruddigore only took £830 at the box office and made a significant loss of £252 3s 10d (£232.19) - no donations were made to charity that year.

Terry O'Farrell

Photo of Ghosts

Tom Judd (Sir Ruthven Murgatroyd) with his ghostly ancestors