Monday 28 March 2011

Showing this Week: Pirates and Annie

Wolverton G&S's producton of The Pirates of Penzance, 29th March - 2nd April 2011. From Jo Bigg:
'...this is BROADWAY Pirates and is hilarious. I've seen every scene a thousand times during rehearsals and still laugh out loud every time!!'

And Pirton Players production of Annie, which will run from the 30th March - 2nd April.

Good luck to everyone involved, especially the PBGSers!


Thursday 24 March 2011

Rudigore: a rose by any other name

When Ruddigore opened at the Savoy on January 23th, 1887, it wasn’t in fact ‘Ruddigore’ at all, but ‘Ruddygore’ – the preferred title carefully chosen by both Gilbert and Sullivan together. G&S had a superstition about their operetta titles and never fixed them until just before the opening. Gilbert said in the Pall Mall Budget on January 27th ‘It is not easy to get a good title; I dare say I had half a dozen for this, printing them in block letters to see the effect on the eye. We finally fixed on ‘Ruddygore’.

But – it proved to be the most enormous blunder, creating outrage amongst the Savoy audience and critics alike. While Gilbert simply meant ruddy gore, as in red blood, ‘ruddy’ caused huge offence, being a word that would ‘scarcely sound pretty on ladies lips’ (the Graphic). When Gilbert was leaving his club he bumped into a man who asked ‘How is Bloodygore going?’ ‘It isn’t Bloodygore, it’s Ruddygore,’ replied Gilbert. ‘Oh, it’s the same thing’ said the man. ‘Is it?’ replied Gilbert, never at a loss for a pithy reply, ‘Then I suppose you’ll take it that if I say “I admire your ruddy countenance,” I mean “I like your bloody cheek!” The title ‘Ruddygore’ with its offensive ‘Y’ struggled on for 9 days until Gilbert finally conceded defeat and changed it to the now more familiar ‘Ruddigore’. Perhaps there should be a campaign to bring back the old ruddy title!

- SW


The First Night Gilbert and Sullivan Centennial Edition, Chappell, 1958
Gilbert and Sullivan and their World by Leslie Bailey, Thames and Hudson 1973

Thursday 17 March 2011

Iolanthe with a difference and Blue Plaque for D'Oyly Carte

Wilton's Theatre

From a press release, with thanks to Deborah and Richard Dean:

All-Male Iolanthe To Open At Wilton’s Music Hall For A Limited Season

Opening 1 April to 7 May 2011:
Sasha Regan’s critically acclaimed all-male IOLANTHE will open at Wilton’s Music Hall on Friday 1 April, following previews from 30 March, for a limited season, ending 7 May. Originally staged at the Union Theatre towards the end of last year, this is the second Union Theatre production to transfer to Wilton’s, following the success of Pirates of Penzance last year, which won the Best Off-West End Production in the Whatsonstage Awards 2010.

Sasha Regan’s production, with design by Stewart Charlesworth, has been set in a public boys’ school. Choreography is by Mark Smith, director and choreographer of new dance company, Deaf Men Dancing, with musical supervision by Michael England and musical direction by Chris Mundy.
The amazing Wilton's Theatre (above) looks worth a visit just for itself!

Performances Tuesday-Saturday 7.30pm, Saturday & Sunday 2.30pm
Tickets £23 (£15 previews; £18 concessions; £60 family ticket)
Place Wilton’s Music Hall, Graces Alley, off Ensign Street, London E1 8JB
Box Office 020 7702 2789

Full details on the West End Theatre Website and Wilton's Theatre.

And here is a review of Sasha Regan's 2010 award-winning Pirates of Penzance.

D'Oyly Carte awarded a Blue Plaque

Also with thanks to Richard Dean:

In case you missed December's news, D'Oyly Carte was finally awarded a Blue Plaque on 14th December. It was unveiled by director Mike Leigh at his home on Dartmouth Road, Kentish Town, where he lived from 1860-1870:
Dr Susan Skedd, English Heritage's Blue Plaques Historian said: "Carte was unrivalled in his day as a theatrical manager and will be the first opera impresario to be honoured with a blue plaque."
Sounds long overdue!

Full details on The Telegraph Website.


Saturday 12 March 2011

Ruddigore: Spectres all appalling

 The ghost scene from the original production

Our next PBGS Show is Ruddigore, and the biggest challenge for any amateur or professional production is how to pull off the scene where the spectres of all the cursed Murgatroyds step out of their picture frames. So how did it all go in Gilbert's original production? Not as well as you might expect, at least on the troubled first night where the scene got mixed reviews. The reviewer at The Times didn't enjoy it at all, saying:
The ghost scene of the second act, representing the descent of the Murgatroyd ancestry from their picture frames, of which preliminary notices and hints of the initiated had let one to expect much, was a very tame affair. In the first instance, the stage management was not here equal to Savoy level. A set of very ugly daubs... pulled up as you might a patent iron shutter to reveal a figure in the recess behind, can scarcely be called a good example of modern stage contrivance, especially when, on Saturday night, one of these blinds or shutters comes down at an odd moment, while another refuses to move in time...
Shades of the wonderful Pod scene in This is Spinal Tap, but without the tight trousers. The reviewer of the Daily News was blown away by the wonderful Ghost music - unlike the Times, who, lacking the benefit of a crystal ball, pompously thought that the seriousness of the music was evidently 'too much for the composer'. The Daily News also loved Sullivan's ingenious solution to the problem of the darkened stage and auditorium:
The stage is darkened, and Sir Arthur Sullivan conducts with a baton tipped with a tiny incandescent lamp. The expedient is new to London, and it was, we believe, first used after the recent manoeuvres of the German army, when a military band of 1,200 performers serenaded the Kaiser in the dark. The whole of the music of the picture scene is far removed above the ordinary level of comic opera, and is among the best things of this sort that Sir Arthur Sullivan has ever written.
Rutland Barrington, who played Sir Despard, called it 'a very stormy first night,' and the show suffered from being in the shadow of Gilbert and Sullivan's last operetta, the hugely successful Mikado, but Ruddigore managed to run for 288 performances, leading Sullivan to quip to Barrington 'I could do with a few more such failures'. The Ghost Scene is now one of Gilbert and Sullivan's most famous and best loved scenes, forever cocking a snook at the Times reviewer's crusty opinion that it was 'pitched in the wrong key'.

- SW

Wednesday 9 March 2011

Live Music Bill

Something of importance to everyone who supports Live Music. From The Stage:
Grade uses first speech in House of Lords to support Live Music Bill
Matthew Hemley, 4 March, The Stage

'New Conservative peer and former ITV chairman Michael Grade has used his maiden speech in the House of Lords to back Tim Clement-Jones’ Live Music Bill, claiming the 2003 Licensing Act which it seeks to amend is a “bad law” that denies up and coming music talent the chance to develop their skills.....'
Joan Bakewell also spoke in favour of the Bill:
“Anything that can move the enjoyment of music to a live event with a space between the music and the audience seems to me valuable.”
Read the full article at The Stage here.


Friday 4 March 2011

No never....

As Jonathan Miller's Black and White Mikado is enjoying an anniversary revival at the ENO, here is a link to an interesting article that - although it came out in The Telegraph last August - is still well worth the read. Miller, despite his huge success with his production, had desribed G&S as "the most boringly self-satisfied form of English drivel", prompting a strong defence from Rupert Christiansen in his article 'Never (no never) mock the genius of Gilbert & Sullivan':
'G&S isn't a deadweight of smugness – a totemic survival of the myth of Victorian respectability – but a living tradition that remains at the heart and root of just about every musical now playing in the West End or on Broadway. It is built on Gilbert's genius for light rhymed verse and Sullivan's genius for melody, which combine in a fusion of text and music that has rarely been equalled, let alone surpassed.'
 And so say all of us! Read his full article online at The Telegraph.