Monday, 9 May 2016

Merry Widow Cast

We now have a cast for our October 2016 production of The Merry Widow!

The trouble with auditions at PBGS is the high level of excellence which makes the job of the panel a difficult one. It's a tough but welcome challenge to face!

As usual the auditions brought out the best in our performers and we're very grateful for all of you who attended and came to support.

The cast for PBGS Merry Widow 2016 is as follows:

Male Roles
Camille de Rosillon - Joe Emler
Baron Mirko Zeta - David Crew
Count Danilo Danilovitch - Stephen Hoath
Raoul de St. Brioche - Roy Bride
Njegus - Barny Shergold

Female Roles
Valencienne - Elizabeth Bottone
Anna Glawari - Bryony Reynolds
Grisettes - Victoria Rehm, Katherine Crew, Emma Crew, Nicole Santelmann, Rhiannon Gibbs, Stevie Gibbs

There are a number of character roles which are still to be announced.

Our thanks once again for all the performers for delivering such high quality auditions and making our job very hard indeed!

Friday, 6 May 2016

Merry Widow Auditions


Audition Information

It's almost time for auditions! You've all done very well at rehearsals and we hope most if not all of you will try out for a part. The auditions will be held between 3pm and 6pm on Sunday the 8th of May at:

Shillington Village Hall,
High Road,

We begin at 3pm promptly so please be there by 2.50pm so as not to disturb those auditioning. We hold open auditions which means anyone can turn up, fill in a form, pay their fee and audition. We encourage this so spread the message around if you think there's someone who should try out.

Auditioning is a fraught process for everyone 'up there' regardless of how many times we've all done it so please support the brave souls before you!
The Panel
Richard Syms - Director
Jane Stott - Musical Director
Paul Kerswill - In support of the Director
Khushil Dep - Committee representitive
T.B.D - In support of the Musical Director

What you will need
  • If you haven't already done so, please bring the audition form to hand into Khushil Dep.
  • Make sure you've put the dates during the rehearsal period you won't be available on that form.
  • If you aren't a member you'll also need to pay your £20 audition fee.
  • Your best foot forward!

How it will work

  • The order of auditions is decided on the day when we know the full list of people auditioning. If you need to leave by a certain time on that day please let Khushil Dep know and we will make adjustments where required.
  • You maybe called back to perform with various groups as the audition panel sees fit in order to determine you fit within a particular group.
  • While there is no official libretto audition you maybe asked to throw a few lines around from the lib.
  • You are allowed the use of your scores during your audition.
  • After all auditions are completed the panel will deliberate in private to create the official cast list. Those who have been selected for a part will be contacted directly and offered the role
  • Once all those offered the parts have accepted, a cast list will be circulated by e-mail as well as posted in the Membership group on Facebook and on our website.
  • There is no official feedback mechanism but feel free to politely enquire for feedback from either the Director or Musical Director at the next rehearsal you attend.


  • Please remember to turn off your mobile phones or put them into silent mode.
  • Please don't enter or leave the audition room during an audition as it's very distracting.
  • The hall is NON SMOKING which also means NO VAPING within the building please.

Break a leg everyone!


Review of Princess Ida

As you know, we regularly have our performances critiqued by Nova Horley our local NODA rep. We now have the Princess Ida crit and it's very complementary. If you'd like to know more about Nova and what she does in her capacity as our NODA rep, you can visit her website
PUTTERIDGE BURY G&S SOCIETY “PRINCESS IDA” 7th April 2016 Director/Choreographer: Alison Gibbs Overture Choreography: Gordon Hodges MD: Margaret Johnson

I really enjoyed this production, the overture was put to good use with a nicely thought out and executed ballet choreographed by Gordon Hodges, which got us into the mood of the production. 

Alison Gibbs brought out so much humour, it put the production on another level for me, and I chuckled my way through, with the many topical references and different characterisations.

Being in 3 Acts made it quite a long evening, and it would have been nice to have had a note in the programme as to how long each interval would be – then the audience could have decided which one they wanted to avail themselves of, as there was some confusion to start with, and I think that made the interval unnecessarily long. 

Costumes were very colourful and looked good – a small note for the men – their first costumes would have benefitted from them wearing the tights they wore with their second costumes, as short black socks did not look good! I liked the ladies wigs and hairstyles with their first costumes, and the headdresses with their second, creating a very different look – which helped the plot along. I was a little perplexed by Princess Ida’s dress, it seemed very plain and not in keeping with the style of the other ladies dresses, and just struck a rather incongruous note, it looked much better with the green tabard in Act 3. 

The backdrops were almost fantasy-land in look, but were very pretty and I particularly liked the single blue lighting used in Act 2 Finale, and for Princess Ida’s song in Act 3 which changed the colouring of the backdrop completely, along with Ida being in a spotlight, creating a very good atmosphere, as did the pink lighting in the opening of Act 3. Lighting generally from Alan Bailes was nicely conceived and enhanced the production look and feel. I liked the lighting for the fight too. 

Sound is never a problem at the QM – as no visible mics are used, and the band is heard as is, with no additional amplification that I could see. 

Margaret Johnson had worked well with the cast to get some nice harmonies, and different expressions into the music, which helped make it seem fresh and interesting. 

Paula Fraser again showed her accomplishment and understanding of G&S with her portrayal of Princess Ida – good relationships with the other cast members, and moments of tenderness with Hilarion, which contrasted well with her rather warlike tendencies otherwise. 

I loved Hilarion as played by Gordon Hodges, I am aware that he was working under some difficulty, but it didn’t show, and he couldn’t have done more to bring this character to life. The slightly camp and balletic interpretation worked well with Florian and Cyril, making them a nicely diverse trio. I thought Gordon also showed his very good singing voice off extremely well, with expressive elements and good phrasing. 

Florian was the more mature and robust member of the trio, played very well by Stephen Hoath, trying to curb the eagerness of Hilarion and Cyril – I enjoyed his interpretation and singing.

Joe Emler was a super enthusiastic Cyril, such energy, which added so much to what could have been a rather insignificant character – a good all round portrayal, delivered with gusto. 

David Crew played King Hildebrand, bringing his usual gravitas and understanding to the role. Beautifully sung, and well-acted. I liked the movement in his first number with the chorus.

Paul Kerswill gave King Gama an almost Shakespearean Richard III look – and a very mean character – which sat well against Hildebrand’s very upright stance – again creating good diversity. I loved the trio of soldiers, played by Ian Boughton, Barny Shergold and Peter Johnson – it must have been such fun (although a little restricting in the suits of armour) to have played the parts, and their first song was particularly funny. Their chains needed sorting so that they actually looked is if they were being restrained, but otherwise it all worked well. 

Jo Bigg created a lovely Lady Psyche, soft and interesting, whilst Margaret Snape was the strict and conniving Lady Blanche – I loved the way she manipulated her cloak so that she exited with a flourish after her Act 2 number, the tin hat with the a sparkling ornament also created a good look! 

Lovely to see Emma and Katherine Crew on stage with their father, and creating two charming but different characters in Melissa and Chloe. I liked Katharine’s very warlike facial expressions, and Emma’s delightful smile. 

Nicole Santelmann maintained a good accent as Sacharissa, whilst Ketina Orriss was an appealing Ada. 

The ensemble including the dancers, were very well rehearsed, and their faces showed their enjoyment, which isn’t always evident in G&S, with Alison Gibbs creating simple but effective choreography for the cast. 

Overall a very enjoyable evening – a good production with loads of humour and interest. My thanks to PBGS for their hospitality, always good to catch up with society members.
© Nova Horley

Saturday, 16 April 2016

Merry Widow Launch Night

While we still bask in the glow of our recent successful production of Princess Ida, it's now time to launch our next production, The Merry Widow, which we will be presenting from the 5th - 8th October, 2016 at The Queen Mother Theatre in Hitchin. We welcome Richard Syms (Into The Woods) back as our Director and welcome a new Musical Director Jane Stott for this much anticipated production.

Our show launch date is Tuesday the 19th of April and we hope to welcome as many of you as possible to meet Richard and Jane and to sing through some of the beautiful music in this operetta. There'll be full details of auditions provided on this evening as well as some overall guidance on the vision Richard and Jane have for our treatment of this show.

Director Richard Syms
Musical Director Jane Stott

If you have thought about joining PBGS this will be a wonderful opportunity to come along and meet the company. We rehearse from 7.45 at Streatley Village Hall just north of Luton. You will find location details on our Contact Us page here. You are welcome to just come and introduce yourself, or ring us on 07956 678720 for information. We would love to see you. And if you are not a performer but love all the behind-the-scenes stuff we always need help with costumes, scenery and all the backstage work which needs doing!


Thursday, 14 April 2016

A message from our Presidents

A lovely message from our Presidents, Anne and Tony Critchley
We wanted to thank you all for your efforts with “Princess Ida”. We felt that it was the most entertaining version we have seen, with some innovative ideas to keep the interest going. The costumes and wigs were fine – even with the problems we heard about later! The singing was with enthusiasm and excellent diction which we felt essential for telling the story. One of the audience said to me “We come to see PBGS because they do not use microphones and you can hear every word that they sing”. Praise indeed!! So carry on the good work! We look forward to the next show and hope you think all the hard work is worth it – we did and gained such pleasure from it and felt privileged in watching it too.

The acting showed good reactions all the way through which is often lacking, particularly with the chorus work, so very well done to everyone.

Very best wishes to you all,

Anne & Tony

Photos © Stephen Hoath

Sunday, 10 April 2016

A big thank you to our audiences!

A big thank you to our audiences for coming in droves to the Queen Mother Theatre this week to see our production of Princess Ida - your support and enjoyment meant that we had a wonderful time and it was great to see all our hard work being so appreciated. A big thank you too to Alison Gibbs who gave us such a fantastic production and to Margaret Johnson for ensuring we were all at our musical best. I think you'll all agree that we managed to climb those 'Empyrean Heights' that Ida thought so highly of!

Our next production will be Franz Lehar's sparkling The Merry Widow, a show that we are very much looking forward to presenting to you on the 5th - 8th October at the Queen Mother Theatre. Full of gorgeous music, wit and dancing, The Merry Widow is enduringly popular. If you would like to join PBGS on stage or behind the scenes for this production we would love to hear from you! PBGS always welcomes new members and you can contact us by ringing 07956 678720 or emailing us at

Photos © Stephen Hoath

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Our name's up in lights!

There is still time to buy tickets for tonight's opening performance of Princess Ida. Only £12 for an evening of Women's Lib, sword fights, monkeys (!) and general Medieval Mayhem! Fabulous music, gorgeous costumes and the best of Gilbert's razor sharp wit.

Queen Mother Theatre, Hitchin 6th-9th April.


Monday, 28 March 2016

Princess Ida opens next week!

Ida (Paula Fraser) educates her 'Fair Neophytes'
Our latest production of Princess Ida opens on the 6th April at the Queen Mother Theatre in Hitchin. Produced by Alison Gibbs and under the baton of our MD Margaret Johnson this is going to be a spectacular show full of some of Sullivan's best music.

Ida was G&S's eighth collaboration, opening at the Savoy Theatre in 1884 and running for 246 performances. Gilbert turned his razor wit on some of the major issues of the day - women's education, the rise of feminism and Darwinism. Princess Ida runs a women's university at Castle Adamant and teaches that man is the source of all ills. That, indeed, he is no more than a 'monkey shaved'. But three young men disguised as women have invaded their hallowed halls and one of them, Prince Hilarion, was betrothed to her when she was only one year old. He wants to win her hand hoping she will fall in love with him, but when his father arrives with an army to enforce the marriage Ida decides to fight. But not all the ladies are so ready to go to war...

It's war with King Hildebrand (David Crew)
Based on Gilbert's own earlier burlesque of Tennyson's poem The Princess-A Medley, Princess Ida is the only G&S opera written entirely (and brilliantly) in blank verse and the only opera they wrote in three acts. Sullivan produced some of his finest music, including 'The world is but a broken toy', considered by many to be one of his most beautiful melodies.

Our own production, which runs from the 6th - 9th April, brings all that you'd expect from a PBGS production - outstanding singing, chorus's to lift the roof off, plenty of humour and some spectacular costumes. Time to book your ticket if you haven't already done so!

Stephen Hoath as Prince Florian

Monday, 14 March 2016

Princess Ida in rehearsal!

Not long now until our fabulous production of Princess Ida! As you can see rehearsals are coming along with lots of movement including sword fighting and even some ballet. Tickets now available direct from the PBGS Box Office or direct from the Queen Mother Theate, Hitchin.

Our Producer Alison Gibbs shows the ladies chorus how it's done!
The men 'love the jolly rattle of an ordeal by battle'
We even have some ballet!

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Local Shows

A couple of local productions to enjoy before our own fabulous production of Princess Ida kicks off on 6th - 9th April (have you booked your tickets yet?). PBGS members are taking part in two shows this month:

Wolverton G&S are presenting The Mikado 7.30pm 15th to 19th March 2016 at the Stantonbury Campus Theatre, Stantonbury, Milton Keynes, MK14 6BN.

And HLOS are presenting The Wedding Singer on the 14th - 19th March at Harpenden Public Halls.

Monday, 18 January 2016

Princess Ida Box Office now open!

Our PBGS Box Office is now open for Princess Ida! Book early to be sure of a ticket for what promises to be a fabulous production.

Princess Ida is Gilbert and Sullivan's epic battle of the sexes which unfolds when Prince Hilarion arrives to claim his bride promised in childhood. But Princess Ida has established a school for ladies in Castle Adamant and men are forbidden! Will love triumph as the sexes go to war? Terrific music, comedy, swordfights and cross-dressing for all the family!

Follow the link below or on the top right of this page to be taken to our secure booking page. For any queries or special requirements please ring PBGS on 07946 264886 or email PBGS at

Monday, 4 January 2016

New Year Plaudits for PBGS!

Graham Breeze and Paula Fraser in HMS Pinafore
Our regional NODA rep, Nova Horley, has done a review of the local theatrical year for The Luton News and it’s lovely to see PBGS mentioned twice!
'Best Couple in a Musical must go to Graham Breeze as Captain Corcoran and Paula Fraser as Josephine in HMS Pinafore for PBGS. They complemented each other so well, both in singing and acting the parts.'
'My MD of the Year goes to Charlotte Tabert for Wizard of Oz (Griffins), and Beth Thomas for Hairspray (DAOS). They both achieved amazing things with their bands and the musical numbers in both shows. Graham Thomson brought his experience to bear for the PBGS production of HMS Pinafore, which makes him a worthy runner up.'
Wonderful to see sterling work recognised after the huge effort that everyone puts into our productions. Well done Paula, and the two Grahams!

You can read Nova’s entire review on her website


Mozart in Ampthill

Three PBGS members, Zoe Jasko, Gordon Hodges and pianist Margaret Johnson, will be treating audiences to an evening of Mozart at St. Andrew's Church Ampthill on Sunday 16th January. The concert is in aid of The National Kidney Federation and I'm sure this will be something PBGS members will want to support!

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

PBGS wedding singers!

Four PBGS members sang 'Brightly Dawns our Wedding Day' from The Mikado at the wedding of Eleanor Lavan and Eric Lybeck in Henley-on-Thames yesterday. Eleanor is the Great Granddaughter of D'Oyly Carte singer Albert James, and Paula Fraser, Sue Wookey, Graham Breeze and Peter Johnson serenaded her as she walked up the aisle, with Margaret Johnson accompanying them on the piano.

Albert James joined D'Oyly Carte in 1880 and worked directly with Gilbert and Sullivan, appearing in principal roles on tour - including Ko Ko, General Stanley, The Lord Chancellor and Bunthorne among many others. In the later stage of his career he continued working for D'Oyly Carte as Stage Manager and then Publicity Manager up to his death in 1913. You can read more about his long G&S career at The Gilbert and Sullivan Archive. His Great Granddaughters work in the theatre themselves and have written a performance piece about his life, Wild Laughter. You can read about the work and more about Albert on their website, Sidelong Glance Productions.

It was a privilege to bring some G&S to the wedding celebrations and share in a long tradition of Gilbert and Sullivan performance. PBGS wish Eleanor and Eric a long, happy and music filled life together!

Albert James as Ko Ko

Monday, 23 November 2015

Princess Ida Cast

Many thanks to everyone who auditioned for a role in Princess Ida. It was an amazing afternoon with so much talent on display.

Our cast is as follows:
King Gama – Paul Kerswill
Hilarion – Gordon Hodges
Melissa – Emma Crew
Hildebrand – David Crew
Cyril – Joe Emler
Florian – Stephen Hoath
Arac – Ian Boughton
Guron – Barny Shergold
Scynthius – Peter Johnson

Princess Ida – Paula Fraser
Lady Psyche – Jo Bigg
Lady Blanche – Margaret Snape
Sacharissa – Shirley Hale
Ada – Ketina Orriss
Chloe – Katharine Crew

All the auditions were of an extremely high quality and you should all feel happy that you made the audition panel's job a hard one. A big thank you and well done to everyone.

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Anthony Gordon

PBGS is very sad to announce the recent death of Anthony Gordon, one of our past tenors. A lovely, gentle man with a most beautiful voice. His last lead role with us was Hilarion in Princess Ida at Campus West, Welwyn, in 2004.

For those that remember Anthony, his funeral is at 2.00 pm at Harwood Park, Stevenage on Friday 4th December.

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Ida rehearsals underway!

Our first Princess Ida rehearsal underway...
Princess Ida rehearsals are now underway with our Tuesday launch night!

Producer, Alison Gibbs, introduced the show and shared her vision for the production. And there is still time to come and join us. Rehearsals are every Tuesday night, 7.45pm-10pm at Streatley Village Hall.

Auditions will be held on Sunday 22nd November from 3pm, also at Streatley Village Hall. If individuals are not able to attend on this date, their audition may be videoed on a Tuesday night prior to the main audition date. All Auditionees must be members of the society or pay a £20 audition fee.

Princess Ida was Gilbert and Sullivan's 8th collaboration, opening in 1884 at the Savoy Theatre. A satire on the hot topics of the time - women's eduction, Feminism and Darwinism - it contains some of Sullivan's most beautiful music.

Our production will run from 6th - 9th April 2016.


Friday, 16 October 2015

Princess Ida

Our first Princess Ida rehearsal is this coming Tuesday 20th October. If you've thought about joining us in the past, come along and have a sing with us, we'd love to meet you.

The rehearsal will be from 7.45pm - 10pm at Streatley Village Hall, just off the A6 north of Luton:


Sunday, 11 October 2015

Thank you!

A BIG thank you to the audiences who came to support us for The Best of All Musical Worlds. I think you'll agree that it was a fabulous concert which showcased the many talented members that PBGS has! It also gave us a chance to sing with Luton Male Voice Choir, who ended their guest performance with us by giving a truly beautiful rendition of 'Bridge over Troubled Water'. Many thanks to their MD, Stuart Elliott, who also took up the baton for PBGS.

Our next PBGS show will be Gilbert & Sullivan's comedy of the sexes, Princess Ida, which we showcased at the end of our concert. Princess Ida will be presented at the Queen Mother Theatre, Hitchin on the 6th - 9th April 2016. We really hope you will join us at Castle Adamant!

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Best of All Musical Worlds

There is still time to buy tickets for our fantastic concert, The Best of all Musical Worlds - a mix of Musicals, Opera and Operetta with something for everyone! Including 'Master of the House', 'Half a Sixpence', 'Sunrise Sunset', 'Suddenly Seymore', 'Villia', 'The Ballad of Sweeney Todd', 'Skid Row' and much, much more, we promise you a wonderful evening.

Joining us on stage are our guest artists, Luton Male Voice Choir, led by Stuart Elliott who will also be our PBGS MD for this concert. Under Stuart's guidence we know both PBGS and Luton Male Voice Choir will be presenting something really special.

Please join us at the Queen Mother Theatre, Hitchin on the 9th - 10th October. Tickets are still available through the Queen Mother Theatre Box Office.