Wednesday 14 December 2011

PBGS Christmas Dinner at The Fox

Last night PBGS descended on the Fox in Pirton for our annual Christmas Dinner. We all had a great time as you can see, especially with the party tooters! Top tooter prize goes to Tim with his imaginative use of two green ones to recreate Shrek. Margaret led everyone in their own version of The Twelve Days of Christmas where the Drummers Drumming got into a priority dispute with the Pipers Piping, and we also wished everyone a 'Merry Christmas' (very loudly) to herald in the Figgy Pudding.

Many thanks to Paul for organising it, and to The Fox for putting up with us and feeding us extremely well. To those PBGS'ers who couldn't make it, we missed you, wish you a very Merry Christmas and we'll see you on Tuesday 3rd for music revision with Margaret (perhaps we should include the 12 Days of Christmas ;-).

All photo © Sue Wookey

Friday 9 December 2011

World Carols in Hitchin

If you are looking for something to get you into the festive spirit, North Herts Guild of Singers are holding a 'World Carols' concert at St Mary's Church, Hitchin on Saturday 17th December at 7.30pm. Tickets are £10 with £8 for concessions and a bargain £3 for under 16's. Tickets are available around Hitchin, and from the Guild's Ticket Manager on 01462 433393. See here for more details.

This promises to be an interesting concert with some unfamiliar carols from around the world, along with those we know well.

Thursday 1 December 2011

Final Patience Cast

After Tuesday's final auditions we now have a complete cast for our Spring 2012 production of Patience:

Patience - Paula Fraser
Lady Jane - Sue Wookey
Lady Angela - Margaret Snape
Lady Saphir - Alice Bridges
Lady Ella - Eve Rapley
Bunthorne - Tim Sell
Grosvenor - Richard Fraser
Duke - Graham Gibbs 
Colonel - Peter Davis 
Major - Richard Dean
Congratulations to Graham and Peter and welcome to the cast!

The PBGS Christmas Meal

It won't be pizza....

This year's Christmas Meal will be on Tuesday 13th December at The Fox pub in Pirton. Don't miss a chance to round off our celebratory year with the appropriate trimmings ;-). Any member who would like to attend can download a PDF of the menu selection here. Please confirm you are coming and give your selection to Paula as soon as possible!


Wednesday 30 November 2011

AGM News

A big thanks to everyone who came to last night’s AGM, which was very well attended. All business was, amazingly, concluded by 9pm ready for our second set of Patience auditions. For those of you who missed the AGM there will be minutes available, so keep an eye on the Society noticeboard.

The AGM was a fitting end to our celebratory 40th Anniversary year, with a review of just how much we had done: Ruddigore, The G&S Sketch Show performed at Henlow, Buxton International G&S Festival and at Hitchin, and a string of concerts with acapella singing waiters, G&S at Ampthill and warbling in the open air at Letchworth Hall Hotel’s Proms in the Park. Quite an astonishing year, and one for which everyone in the Society is to be congratulated. The AGM wound up with a plethora of presents. Certificates were handed out by our Chairman to members who had been with the Society for 40, 30, 20 and 10 years, to mark and celebrate the extraordinary commitment made by many members to the Society. The fact that there was a big pile of them shows that PBGS is a ‘keeper’ for so many people who have joined over the years. Special mention should be made of our two 40 year members, Roy Bride and Clive Wheeler, who were with the Society at the very beginning in 1971, and are still valued members in 2011.

Two members were elected as Honorary Life Members: Paul Kerswill and Sue Wookey, both of whom have chalked up 30 years and over of performing, committee membership and assorted other essential tasks for PBGS, along with spreading a little mayhem along the way. Congratulations to Paul and… um… me.

Here’s to another 40 years and even more of those certificates : -).

New Life Members Sue and Paul express their astonishment...

Photos © XMO4 PHOTOS

Friday 25 November 2011

AGM Reminder and Auditions

Don't forget that our AGM will be this Tuesday (29th November) at 8pm, Streatley Village Hall, Streatley. This has been a wonderful year for PBGS, and a good attendance at the AGM will round it off nicely!

Auditions for the Duke of Dunstable and Colonel Calverley will be after the AGM at 9pm. If you have ambitions to be a Heavy Dragoon, now's your chance :-)

Tuesday 15 November 2011


The PBGS AGM will be on Tuesday, 29th November 8pm at Streatley Village Hall, Streatley. To keep PBGS a dynamic Society and take us forward into our next 40 years, it's vital all members come along and have their say!


Saturday 12 November 2011

Yeomen of the Guard at Stewartby

  ©Stewartby Operatic and Dramatic Society

Next week Stewartby Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society will be performing The Yeomen of the Guard at Stewartby Village Hall, with our own Alison Gibbs taking the part of Phoebe. The production forms part of Stewartby's Diamond Anniversary celebrations as they celebrate their 60th year.

The show opens on Tuesday 15th November and runs until Saturday 19th November, with tickets available for every night apart from Friday, which is now sold out. Performances start at 7.30pm.

Congratulations to Stewartby for 60 years of performing!

Thursday 10 November 2011

Patience cast

We now have a cast for Patience, after some very funny and rapturous performances from everyone who auditioned:
Patience - Paula Fraser
Lady Angela - Margaret Snape
Lady Saphir - Alice Bridges
Lady Ella - Eve Rapley
Lady Jane - Sue Wookey
Bunthorne - Tim Sell
Grosvenor - Richard Fraser
Duke of Dunstable - uncast
Major Murgatroyd - Richard Dean
Colonel Calverley - uncast
We are looking for a Duke and a Colonel Calverley, which is a classic G&S patter part, so if you fancy yourself as a Heavy Dragoon, contact us!


Saturday 5 November 2011

 'You hold yourself like this...'
From the first production

A reminder that our Patience Auditions are this coming Tuesday (8th Nov), 7.45pm at Streatley Village Hall. If you are a member and still toying with giving it a go (go on, be brave!) then you will find downloadable PDFs of Lib, Music and Character audition details on our Notices Page. If you don't have a lib but would still like to give it a go, then a full Patience libretto can be found at the Gilbert and Sullivan Archive.

PBGS auditions are held in the open, so any member can come and watch and cheer us on, and they always turn out to be great fun!

Wednesday 19 October 2011

Ruddigore at the Barbican

 © Opera North

Opera North will be performing Ruddigore at the Barbican from the 23rd - 26th November 2011.
"A reluctant villain, a modest maiden, Gothic ghosts. Gilbert and Sullivan make merry at the expense of Victorian melodrama in one of their most inventive confections, infused here with a wonderful freshness by Opera North’s critically acclaimed adaptation."
"...this is operetta bliss. A must for all G&S fans.’ The Daily Telegraph "
You will find full booking details on the Barbican Website. And there is more information about the production on the Opera North Website.

Some reviews of the original 2010 production:
Daily Telegraph review.
The Guardian review.

Sunday 9 October 2011

Looking forward to Patience

Our display of past shows and posters

Well - we've finished off our 40th Anniversary celebrations in grand style this week! Thank you to everyone who made the Sketch Show so enjoyable, all those whose efforts got us onto the Queen Mother stage, and everyone who came to support us. It really did feel like a party with old friends returning, good food and an atmosphere of fun. I'm already looking forward to the 50th!

Enjoying our after show celebrations

We are already planning our next show, Patience, which will be at The Queen Mother Theatre in Hitchin on 2nd - 5th May 2012

We have details of the audition pieces for those eager to start practising their aesthetics, and you will find them as downloadable PDFs on our Notices Page.

If you enjoyed the Sketch Show and would like to join us for Patience then we would love to meet you. You can find details about where we rehearse and how to contact us here. Patience will be a lot of fun and you can be assured of a warm welcome!

 Our Chairman does his own version of 'Eagle high'.

Photos © Sue Wookey

Wednesday 28 September 2011

40th Anniversary Souvenir Programme

As this is a special anniversary for PBGS we have a special treat - our 40th Anniversary Souvenir Programme, which will take the form of an A5 booklet packed with information and photos covering the history of the Society and its achievements since its beginning in 1971. If you are unable to come to a performance of the show at the Queen Mother Theatre next week, and would still like a copy of the anniversary programme to keep, then let us know by ringing 07946 264886. There are also details of other ways to contact us here.

Wednesday 21 September 2011

40 Years of PBGS Celebrated with Sketch Show

© Teresa Newham

We are fast approaching our last performances of the G&S Sketch Show for the year - on the 6th October we will be taking the show to the Queen Mother Theatre in Hitchin for a three day run. Not only will there be some fantastic G&S singing, but a light supper will be served in a cabaret setting. Tickets can be booked direct from the Theatre on 01462 455166 (lunchtimes and evenings only), or through the company on 07946 264886. You can also book online. You will find full details on our Next Show Page. This is 'Reduced Shakespeare Company' meets Gilbert and Sullivan, and is a fun, fast paced evening with plenty of humour. Our Buxton audience loved it!

The performances in Hitchin mark the last part of our 40th Anniversary Year Celebrations. The Society was founded in 1971 by Peter Jenkyns and June Pickard and has gone from strength to strength, adding non G&S shows into the Gilbert and Sullivan mix and taking in several theatre homes along the way. All amateur societies have been facing difficult times over the last few years - with financial challenges and changing audiences - and looking back over our long list of productions, we have a lot to celebrate at PBGS.

Our founder and first MD Peter Jenkyns
©Luton News

Over the years we have also seen many changes in our membership, different MDs, Producers, Chairmen and Committees. But the priority of quality musicianship and - well - fun, has never changed. There have also been members who have stayed with the Society over long periods, giving us continuity and a sense of where the Society began. As Gilbert wrote for The Yeomen of the Guard we still 'have a song to sing-o':

PBGS Yeomen of the Guard 1981

PBGS Yeomen of the Guard 1989

PBGS Yeomen of the Guard 1996
PBGS Yeomen of the Guard 2005

PBGS Yeomen of the Guard 2010

You will find our full Society history here.

- SW

Wednesday 14 September 2011

Ruddigore in Peterborough

Peterborough Gilbert and Sullivan players are presenting Ruddigore this week at the Key Theatre, Peterborough, with several faces familiar to us at PBGS. From the Vivacity Website (where you can also book your tickets online!):
There are some very strange happenings in the pretty Cornish fishing village of Rederring! A bad baronet (well 2 actually) carrying out horrendous crimes every day. A mad girl crazed out of her mind by unrequited love. A corps of bridesmaids desperate to officiate at a wedding – anyone’s wedding. And up in Ruddigore Castle more ghosts than you would ever want to meet. Throw in a witches curse, a sailor from a ferry who thinks he’s in Nelson’s navy, the most frustratingly timid young lovers since Hugo Horton and Alice Springs, a manservant they’d never employ in Downton Abbey, the dastardly kidnapping of a defenceless old woman and you have it.

Peterborough G&S Players next production is sure to be a hit!
Ruddigore is on from 14th - 17th September. Theatre Map here.

Tuesday 13 September 2011

A Touch of Poetry

Just a reminder that this Thursday 15th Sept at 1.15pm is the free National Portrait Gallery talk W.S.Gilbert: A Touch of Poetry:
'W.S. Gilbert, the librettist of the Gilbert and Sullivan operas, was a man of contradictions, a hard-headed businessman who invented whimsical fantasy worlds. Andrew Crowther discusses the continuing appeal of his work.'
More details of the event here.

Monday 5 September 2011

Thanks to Richard D for sending this Youtube link. It appears that even Family Guy can't resist Gilbert and Sullivan! All together now....

Through the Trees

Thursday 1 September 2011

Trial by Jury and Dido and Aeneas in Bedford

Richard D has been to the New Bedford Youth Opera's Dido and Aeneas and Trial by Jury:
I really recommend the double bill...

It was flawlessly presented, with a six piece string and harpsichord band. The singing was rich and sweet and the settings imaginative. Gordon played the defendant in his usual inimitable way, but then became a serious, powerful Aeneas. The sorcerer was terrifying and Belinda wept real tears during the lament.

It was superb evening.
It's not to late to catch the last performances - full details here on The Place Website.

Sunday 28 August 2011

Proms in the Park extra

Click here or on the poster above for an even larger version

We now have a poster for the Proms in the Park event on 4th September. Not only will PBGS be singing a selection from our successful Sketch Show, but one of our members, soprano Laura Abella, will be presenting a solo programme as part of the Prom. Laura has a glorious voice - yet another reason to come and enjoy this event!


Friday 26 August 2011

PBGS at Letchworth Proms in the Park

 Letchworth Hall Hotel

We are performing at the Proms in the Park on 4th September 2011 at Letchworth Hall Hotel, Letchworth lane, Letchworth Garden City, Herts. SG6 3NP.

Doors open at 12pm, with performances from 1pm and PBGS scheduled to perform extracts from the G&S Sketch Show from 3.30pm onwards, just before the main act.

Tickets are £25 per person including picnic or £12.50 per child including picnic.

Performers include classical guitarist, italian vocalist, solo violinst and classical piano. This looks as though it will be a fantastic afternoon out for everyone who loves classical music, with - of course - all the added humour you'd expect from Gilbert and Sullivan thrown into the mix.

You can find more information on the venue on the Letchworth Hall Hotel Website.

Iamge © Letchworth Hall Hotel

Wednesday 24 August 2011

Utopia Ltd Review

 Rutland Barrington as King Paramount
in the original production

Interesting to see Rupert Christiansen from The Telegraph reviewing the professional production of Utopia Ltd at Buxton:
'...the first fully staged professional production of G and S' penultimate collaboration Utopia Ltd in Britain since 1975, and apparently only the third such in over a century....'
'The choruses are as good if not better than any in the canon, and other highlights include a duet of almost Verdian beauty for tenor and soprano, a show-stopping patter septet, a deliciously camp number for the stomping Life Guards, and a wittily Betjemanesque hymn to English girls of five foot ten and eleven stone two.'
Almost (but not quite) makes me want to be in it again. You can read the full review here.

- SW

Sunday 21 August 2011

Buxton Festival Results and a lecture on Gilbert at the NPG

The Festival Winners are now up on the Buxton International Gilbert and Sullivan Festival website, with South Anglia Savoy Players taking the crown this year with their production of Patience. For the full 2011 results click here.

And in other news,  The National Portrait Gallery has a free lecture coming up on W.S. Gilbert:
W.S. Gilbert: A Touch of Poetry
15 September 2011, 13:15-14:00
Ondaatje Wing Theatre
W.S. Gilbert, the librettist of the Gilbert and Sullivan operas, was a man of contradictions, a hard-headed businessman who invented whimsical fantasy worlds. Andrew Crowther discusses the continuing appeal of his works.


Friday 19 August 2011

Does Jack Point really die?

 Grossmith as the original Jack Point

The Buxton Festival has prompted an article about The Yeomen of the Guard on the BBC News Website. It's worth reading for its interesting take on Sullivan and Jack Point, and audience reactions to the operetta's ambiguous ending:

Gilbert and Sullivan's Mystery Play
Trevor Timpson, BBC News, 16 Aug 2011
'It is 100 years since WS Gilbert died, aged 74, 10 years after Arthur Sullivan. From the 1870s to the 1890s each of their comic operas in turn had captivated a huge public across the English-speaking world.

Ever since, they have been a sure way to fill venues from opera house to tin shed. This year's Gilbert and Sullivan Festival in Buxton is the biggest ever, with some 50 productions. 
But who was the driving force in the partnership? Was it Gilbert, the writer of sparkling lyrics with a sting in the tail? Or Sullivan, the master orchestrator and creator of unforgettable tunes?

Part of the answer lies in their oddest opera, the one where they went "serious" - the Yeomen of the Guard of 1888....'
Read the full article over on the BBC News Website.

©BBC News

Monday 8 August 2011

And yet more Buxton...

There is a nice little article about the joys of the Buxton Festival on the Guardian Website. My favourite quote:
"Buxton's great fun," said Bradley. "I even had an American woman come up to me and say: 'I have had more pleasure from the festival than from either of my husbands.'"
Well, we knew it was good but.....

Read the whole article on The Guardian Website.

And here yet more photos of PBGS at the Festival!

Ali, Eve and Margaret stay cool...

King Tony holds court

Before Edinburgh's 'Mikado'

Post Mikado Festival Club at the Pavilion
All photos ©Sue Wookey


Thursday 4 August 2011

Buxton on the BBC

For those of you that missed it last night, the Buxton International Gilbert and Sullivan Festival was featured on the BBC News. You can watch the video, which really captures the spirit of the Festival, here on the BBC News Website.

Photo ©Sue Wookey

Wednesday 3 August 2011

We're back from Buxton!

No missing us around Buxton! Alice's mum, Joan, thinks we look FAB ©Sue Wookey

Well, we did it! Most of us are back now from our Buxton adventure (although a few hardy Putt souls are still there enjoying the G&S Festival) and it’s time to enjoy the fruits of our endeavours, and share experiences and photos. If you have any anecdotes or pictures you would like to share here, send them on to me and I’ll post them for you. If you don’t it will be only my memories, and we can’t have that!

But, to start us off, I think we need to thank Paula for coming up with such a wonderful show and seeing it through to the Pavilion Arts Centre stage. The audience loved it (as we knew they would). I’ve now watched the DVD, created by All Media Works and available from Musical Collectables Ltd, (order your copies now, if you don’t have them!) and it’s the first time I’ve been able to appreciate how slick it really is, seamlessly carrying the audience through the operettas with an affectionate eye for the absurdities that make them funny. Next in the line-up of thanks is Margaret for keeping us all in line, getting the best out of us and playing her arms off, Tash for calmly making the whole thing work on an untried and untested stage (we love you, Tash!) and Mark and Calum, and all the techie helpers from the theatre for their considerable efforts with the new equipment. It was a real challenge and we are all very grateful. Special thanks go to Robin for his calm advice, guidance and support – it was lovely knowing you were out there willing us through it, Robin – to Richard for wrestling Elsie the Eagle into submission, to Sue for spending so much time making it, Paula’s mum, Ann, for making the world’s biggest wedding dress (eat your heart out, Zara) and to the Smiths for allowing us to present a madcap start to the Fringe Festival.

Finally – let’s thank ourselves because each and every person on that stage has earned it. Adapting to the backstage challenges while going on and performing to that level is a considerable achievement. Personally I think each and every member up there excelled themselves – watch the DVD and be astonished.

There will be more Buxton posts coming soon, but in the meantime here are a few more photos from me and from Teresa to enjoy:

© Teresa Newham

Everyone takes the whole thing really seriously on the Pavilion Stage....

©Sue Wookey

Paula checks out the Diva Wedding Dress.

 ©Sue Wookey

Every bride needs a bridesmaid...

 ©Sue Wookey

Graham and John checking a little list.

©Sue Wookey

Elsie the Eagle rests at Thorn Hays before the performance

©Sue Wookey

Elsie gets ready to fly...

©Sue Wookey

We have lift off!

©Sue Wookey

Waiting to go on by the cool of the stage door.

©Sue Wookey

The Buxton Opera House before Edinburgh's performance of The Mikado.

These are just a few of my (and Teresa's) photos. I'm sure everybody would love to see yours if you have them. And if anyone would like to write up a short piece about their wild weekend in Buxton (maybe Deano can write a poem : -), I'm sure everyone would love that too!

- Sue W.


Thursday 28 July 2011

Buxton International G&S Festival is here.

If you are in Buxton for the start of the Festival, look out for us out and about on Saturday and Sunday in our PBGS Sketch Show shirts!

We'll be performing at 3pm on Sunday 31st at the Pavilion Arts Centre - maybe we'll even see you there!

Monday 25 July 2011

A Modern US President

Richard D has sent this wonderful satire of a satire - 'President Obama' as the very model of a modern US President. Gilbert would have had a field day with modern politics!

You can watch the musical spoof of Obama! A Modern U.S. President here on Youtube.

Thanks Richard!

Sunday 17 July 2011

Next stop Buxton!

Buxton Opera House glass © Sue Wookey

After a really successful performance of the G&S Sketch Show at Henlow Theatre last night (and a big thanks to everyone who came and supported us!) it's now full steam ahead for our Buxton Festival Fringe Performance. Judging by the enjoyment of our Henlow audience, the Buxton audiences are in for a treat.

Our performance will be at the newly refurbished Pavilion Arts Centre, and you can find more information about the venue here at Derbyshire Life. If you are in the region, please come along and join us for a feast of Gilbert and Sullivan's best, presented as a fast-paced review following all the main themes of the operettas.

Tickets are £10 and available via Buxton Opera House Booking.

© Sue Wookey


Thursday 7 July 2011

Sketch Show at Henlow 16th July!

The Gilbert and Sullivan 
Sketch Show

16 July 2011

Henlow Theatre
Hitchin Road, Nr. RAF Henlow, Beds 
SG16 6DN
Tickets £8
Box Office: 07946 264886

This is the first performance of our local run of our popular Gilbert and Sullivan Sketch Show, a fast-paced romp through the G&S Operettas written by member Paula Fraser, and a chance to catch the show before we take it to the Buxton International Gilbert and Sullivan Festival Fringe. Come along and support us as and enjoy a fun evening of G&S favourites!