Wednesday 19 December 2012

Raving at The Raven

'Tis the Season to be Jolly - and we did it in style last night at The Raven in Hexton at the PBGS Christmas Dinner. We even managed a few 'fa la la's' when Shirley led us in some community singing - I will never be able to sing the Twelve Days of Christmas again without thinking of Kangaroos. Yup - you had to be there....

Many thanks to Paula for arranging our annual bash, and to Ketina for suggesting the venue. We filled an entire area, well away from everyone else, where we could be as mad as we liked. Which was just about perfect.

Shirley leads us Down Under

A very Merry Christmas and a
 Happy New Year to all our friends and supporters. We look forward to seeing you all at the Queen Mother Theatre in 2013!

All photos © Sue Wookey

Thursday 22 November 2012

AGM and Show Choosing Night

The PBGS AGM is on Tuesday 27th November. We are looking for nominations for Treasurer so if you would like to nominate someone for this post or for the general committee, or stand yourself, please contact our secretary, Paula Fraser, before the AGM.

If you have any other business for the AGM, please contact our Chairman (Richard Fraser) or Paula so that it can be added now to the agenda.

Full details are on the Contact Us page.

After the AGM, members will have the chance to choose shows for 2014 and 2015. Full details can be found on our Notices Page. Please come and enjoy the presentations and cast your vote!

And finally, it's not too late to join us for our Christmas Meal on Tuesday 18th December at the Raven in Hexton. We always have a huge amount of fun, so don't miss out - contact Paula now to secure your place.


Triple Bill Cast

We have a complete cast for our April Triple Bill of Trial by Jury, Cox & Box and The Zoo:


Bouncer - Richard Dean
Cox - Graham Breeze
Box - Bob Little


Carboy -  Brian Miles
Thomas Brown - Graham Breeze
Eliza -  Jo Bigg
Laetitia -  Paula Fraser
Grinder - Tom Gammell


Judge - Jo Bigg
Counsel - Sue Wookey
Defendant - Brian Miles
Plaintiff - Paula Fraser
Usher -  Frank Banks
Foreman - Peter Johnson
Bridesmaids - Ketina Orriss, Nicole Santlemann, Gill Davidson, Alice Bridges

Congratulations to everyone who was successful after some terrific auditions with the usual high standard!

Wednesday 7 November 2012

The Gondoliers and Calender Girls

There are two local shows to enjoy this month!

Stewartby -  The Gondoliers

Stewartby are performing The Gondoliers from 20th -24 November at Stewartby Village Hall. Directed by Pru, the show will be full of familiar faces from PBGS.

Tickets are available from the Box Office on 01525 402457/403426 or email:

Pirton Players - Calender Girls

Pirton Players are performing Calender Girls from 20 - 24 November at Pirton Village Hall. There are tickets available for Tue, Wed, Thur and a couple left for Sat, from  Members or from the Village Shop.


Friday 2 November 2012

Trial, Cox & Box and The Zoo Auditions

Auditions for our Triple Bill are nearly upon us! We hope the auditions will be well attended with lots of you trying for a part in these three shows.

Auditions for Trial by Jury will take place on Tuesday 13th November at Streatley Village Hall, from 7.45pm. It's important that all of you that want to audition for Trial attend on this date if you can.

Downloadable PDF of the Trial by Jury Audition Pieces

Auditions for Cox & Box and The Zoo will take place on Sunday 18th November at Streatley Village Hall, from 3pm.

Downloadable PFD of the Cox & Box Audition Pieces
Downloadable PFD of The Zoo Audition Pieces

Copies of revised words for the Judges Song and the new words for Laetitia's audition are available at rehearsal, but can be e-mailed if requested.

If you would like to try for a part your full membership must be paid up before auditioning. You can download an Audition Form here.


Sunday 14 October 2012

Our next production - a Triple Bill!

Thank you to all our audiences who made our week presenting Jack the Ripper at the Queen Mother Theatre in Hitchin such a special one!

We appreciate all the support (especially from those swaying along at the back during the finale!) and hope you will all be along to see us at our next production in May 2013, when we will be presenting a triple bill of one act operas. We have a bit of Gilbert partnering Sullivan in the ever popular Trial by Jury, and even more of Sullivan partnering firstly Burnand and then Stephenson in Cox and Box and The Zoo. Both of these operettas are terrific fun and we guarantee that you will have a wonderful evening.

If you are unfamiliar with the works (although some of you will have experienced a breakneck 5 minute Trial in our G&S Sketch Show!) then here is a little bit about them:

Trial by Jury is a comic one act operetta by Gilbert and Sullivan which was first produced in 1875, shortly before The Zoo which we are also presenting in this Triple Bill. Although this was Gilbert and Sullivan's second collaboration (the first being Thespis), all the essentials we expect of a classic G&S farce are here - a parody of 'breach of promise of marriage', a Judge who has risen through the ranks by dubious means, an unfeeling Defendant and a fainting Bride. With music that sizzles along, Trial by Jury was a huge hit when it opened, where it ran for 131 performances at the Royalty Theatre. 138 years later it's still a much performed favourite.

Cox and Box, by Sullivan and Burnand, is our second one act comic opera and tells the increasingly surprising story of two men - one who works days and one who works nights - who are unwittingly renting the same room. Cox and Box was written 5 years before Sullivan’s first partnership with Gilbert for Thespis and premiered in 1866, becoming so popular it ran for 264 performances. Sullivan shows all the musical flare we expect from his later partnership with Gilbert, and Burnand delivers a wonderfully ridiculous story that never flags and delivers plenty of laughs.

The Zoo, by Sullivan and Stephenson, is a one act comic opera without dialogue set in London Zoo. Premièring in 1875 at the Haymarket Theatre, it had a five week run and two short revivals before vanishing from sight. Luckily for us and comic opera lovers everywhere, this gem of a piece was rediscovered by Dr Terence Reece, who bought the manuscript at an auction and arranged for it to be published. Its modern premiere was given by the Fulham Light Opera in 1971 and a recording by D'Oyly Carte Opera Company in 1978 ensured that this wonderfully funny work re-entered the canon. It has remained popular ever since. The Zoo is a farcical tale of two lovers - a nobleman who is wooing a seller of cakes and buns, and a young chemist who mistakenly believes he has accidentally poisoned his beloved. All kinds of confusion reign until finally all is resolved and the couples live happily ever after.

We look forward to seeing you all again in May!

Tuesday 9 October 2012

'Jack the Ripper' opens tomorrow in Hitchin

Our show, Jack the Ripper by Pember and De Marne, opens tomorrow night and runs from 10th - 13th October. We moved the production to the stage of the Queen Mother Theatre in Hitchin for our Tech rehearsal last night and it was great to run it through with the set and see our 5 months of work finally come together. This will be an outstanding show from PBGS and there are still tickets available for every night (though Friday and Saturday are selling fast) so don't miss out on your chance to join us.

Jack the Ripper is a musical reconstruction of the incidents relating to the East End murders which took place between Friday August 31st and Friday November 9th, 1888.

Set in the Steampacket music hall and the surrounding streets of Whitechapel it reflects the life and times of the victims and introduces the various suspects who were all rumoured to be "the ripper".

The show combines classic Music Hall melodrama and big musical numbers with heart-felt reactions to the horror of the murders as well as some great comedic moments.

Full price tickets: £13
Concessions: £11*

 *For performances on Wednesday 10th and Thursday 11th October only.
Tickets are available online through the Queen Mother Theatre or by ringing the Box Office on 01462 455166.


Tuesday 2 October 2012

My name is Jack the Ripper...

The identity of Jack the Ripper tested the detectives of the time and is still the epicentre of endless speculation and theories today, taking such unlikely people as Prince Albert Victor the Duke of Clarence and even Lewis Carroll.

But for Sir Melville Macnaghten of Scotland Yard there were only ever three main suspects, all of which he named in his report of 23 February 1894 in an attempt to throw cold water on the theories put forward by the Sun earlier the same month. The Sun had re-examined the case and named Thomas Cutbush as most likely to be the Ripper.

Macnaughten’s report formed the basis of most early Ripper research. In his opinion the three most likely men to be the Ripper were Montague John Druitt, Michael Ostrog and Aaron Kosminski.

Druitt was a barrister and part-time school teacher at a Blackheath boarding school. He committed suicide in December 1888 after being dismissed from the school for reasons that have never been given. Macnaghten said that Druitt was "a doctor of about 41 years of age and of fairly good family, who disappeared at the time of the Miller’s Court murder, and whose body was found floating in the Thames on 31st December: i.e. 7 weeks after the said murder. The body was said to have been in the water for a month, or more…From private information I have little doubt but that his own family suspected this man of being the Whitechapel murderer, it was alleged that he was sexually insane." Druitt’s body was pulled out of the water at Chiswick. Although there are many good reasons for Druitt being a main suspect, there is also a lot of contradictory evidence.

Ostrog became a likely suspect because the police had been searching asylum releases for a doctor or surgeon who was also a lunatic. That a psychopath with medical knowledge was the Ripper had become their main working theory, possibly one released when the murders started. Ostrog failed to report to the police when requested and Macnaghten said that Ostrog was "…a Russian doctor, and a convict who was subsequently detained in a lunatic asylum as a homicidal maniac. This man’s antecedents were of the worst possible type, and his whereabouts at the time of the murders could never be ascertained."

Aaron Kosminski was, according to Macnaghten “… a Polish Jew, & resident in Whitechapel. This man became insane owing to many years indulgence in solitary vices. He had a great hatred of women, especially of the prostitute class, & had strong homicidal tendencies; he was removed to a lunatic asylum about March 1889…”. Macnaghten wasn't the only one to have Kosminski in his sights, two other high ranking officers who were close to the investigation also considered him to be a likely suspect for the Ripper: head of the C.I.D. Dr. Robert Anderson and the officer in charge of the case, Chief Inspector Donald Swanson. Kosminski entered Colney Hatch Asylum in February 1891.

Out of the three, Druitt was Macnaghten’s favourite suspect, although Detective Chief lnspector John George Littlechild, the ex-head of the Special Branch at Scotland Yard in 1888, considered a fourth suspect to be the Ripper – Francis Tumblety, an Irish seller of patent medicines.

Our Show opens next week at the Queen Mother Theatre, Hitchin and we hope you’ll join us in the search for the Ripper through the streets of Whitechapel. You can book your tickets on-line at the Queen Mother Theatre or by ringing their box office on 01462 455166.


Wednesday 26 September 2012

Special Jack the Ripper NODA Evening

PBGS is holding a NODA evening for our performance of Jack the Ripper on Thursday, 11th October 2012 at 7.15pm for a 7.45pm performance.

All members of societies affiliated to Noda are welcome to join us at the concession ticket price of £11 and will receive a free programme and a complimentary drink. To book your tickets for the Noda night, please call the PBGS box office on 07946 264886 (please do not book through the theatre).

As well as a great night out, this is a wonderful opportunity for members thinking of doing the show or looking for something that has terrific scope for principals and chorus!


Wednesday 19 September 2012

Christmas Meal

 Fun and frivolity at the 2011 PBGS Meal

Yes! Seriously! Where did the summer go?

The PBGS Christmas meal has already been arranged and will be at The Raven in Hexton on Tuesday 18th December 2012, 7.15pm for a meal at 7.45pm. The 3 course meal + coffee looks really yummy with plenty of choice and costs £23 per head. Paula would like to have it booked by the end of this month so please get in touch with her or catch her at rehearsals to book your place and pay your £10 deposit or, better still, the full amount. Partners very welcome, of course!

Clicky clicky here for a PDF of the full menu and all the details.

Wednesday 12 September 2012

'What a life'

We’re continuing the build-up to our Show, Jack the Ripper by Ron Pember and Denis de Marne, with a look at the lives of the people who lived in Whitechapel, brought vividly to life through music, drama, tragedy and the wry comedy that binds people together through the worst of circumstances.

By the time of the Ripper murders, Whitechapel had become a place of poverty, unemployment, overcrowding and vice of every kind. Nearly 80,000 people were crowded into dismal living conditions, caused by rising rents and the tearing down of unsanitary buildings under the 1875 Artisans and Labourers Dwelling Act. The new buildings meant to replace them were too expensive for people to move back into and the common lodging house became the only thing between most people and the streets. Overcrowded and filthy, many social reformers of the time believed the lodging houses were rife with vice and prostitution, adding to the 63 East End brothels.

Unemployment was high, with an influx of European immigrants fleeing persecution adding to the tension. Most of those lucky enough to be in employment worked 18 hour days in overcrowded sweat shops for minimal wages. Many Whitechapel residents escaped from their grim living conditions, poverty and the grind of sweated labour by spending most of their spare time in the numerous public houses, where drunkenness was rife, leading to more disease and unemployment. Worst of all it led to violence which was so commonplace and accepted in the East End, especially against women, that the journalist George Sims commented before the Ripper murders in 1883 that "the spirit of murder hovers over this spot, for life is held of little account."

For many women, the only way to make a living was through prostitution. Out of the five known ripper victims, three were known to have been previously married, but had been abandoned by or left their husbands. The 1881 census tells us that Elizabeth Stride was married to a carpenter and had moved to London from Sweden, where she had previously worked as a prostitute. By the time of the Ripper murders she was a widow. Catherine Eddowes had a husband and two children at the time of the census and was working as a charwoman, but fell into prostitution to pay the rent on her Spitalfields lodging house. Annie Chapman was married to a stud groom and living near Windsor at the time of the census, but after a series of tragedies, including the death of their 12 year old daughter, they turned to drink. After separating, Annie returned to London and the streets. There is no census information on Nichols, but we know she was born in Limerick, lived in Cardiff and worked in a brothel after arriving in London in 1884. There is no census information on Chapman either but The Star newspaper reported after her horrific murder in 1888 that she “had perhaps a happy and innocent girlhood, and was once a wife, had to turn out and seek the sale of her body for the price of a bed."

The police turned a blind eye to prostitution in the East End where it was rife but rarely came to the attention of the respectable. For the most part the women were left to their trade - prostitution wasn’t a crime and the police could only arrest a prostitute if they create a public disturbance.

It was in this hotbed of poverty, vice, slum conditions and little regard for life that Jack the Ripper carried out his murders, the horror of which finally shed a light on the lives of the people of Whitechapel.

You can join us in the Music Hall and on the streets of Whitechapel by booking your tickets for Jack the Ripper on-line at the Queen Mother Theatre. You will also find alternative booking details here.

Essays in history
History of the Metropolitan Police
Daily Mail

Thursday 6 September 2012

'The Ripper's out to get you....'

In the late 1880’s the British public was gripped by the grisly murders of several East End prostitutes. Out of 11 Whitechapel murders between 1888 and 1891, only five are still linked to the infamous Jack the Ripper: Mary Ann Nichols, Annie Chapman, Lizzie Sride, Catherine Eddowes and Mary Jane Kelly. All had their throats cut and suffered mutilation, leaving the women of the East End gripped with fear. So much hype and mystery surrounded the unsolved murders that, even today, the name ‘Jack the Ripper’ is synonymous with terror. The crimes were considered too much for the local constabulary to tackle and Scotland Yard was brought in, leading to one of the Victorian periods greatest and most notorious man hunts. On 27th September 1888 the Central News Agency received a chilling letter. Beginning “Dear Boss” it went on to say “I am down on whores and I shant quit ripping them till I do get buckled...”. Signed ‘Jack the Ripper’ it gripped the imagination of the public and gave the murderer his infamous name. After the Eddowes murder on 30th September 1888 the case was so famous that it appeared in newspapers as far away as America and countless theories were being put forward – the Ripper was a doctor, someone working in a slaughterhouse, a lunatic – the tabloids printed lurid pictures of a shabby doctor like figure with a hat and a bag, countless men were arrested on suspicion and released, and vigilante groups started patrolling the streets. The police’s problems escalated when they were flooded with copycat letters from people claiming to be the Ripper. The height of the panic came with the gruesome murder of Mary Kelly in November 1888, which exceeded anything seen before and coincided with the resignation of the Metropolitan Commissioner of Police, Sir Charles Warren. Although there were two further Whitechapel murders, Kelly was probably the Ripper’s last victim.

The true identity of Jack the Ripper and why the murders suddenly stopped is one of criminology’s enduring mysteries, spawning countless books, theories and discussions which continue today. The focus is usually on the Ripper, but our Show, Jack the Ripper by Ron Pember and Denis de Marne, finally gives the victims the chance to speak. Over the next few weeks we will be posting more dramatic cast photos to give you a taster of our production, which runs from 10th - 13th October.

Our rehearsals are picking up pace and we can promise a fascinating Show where memorable music, words, humour and tragedy allow the lives of the Ripper’s victims to finally take centre stage over the notorious murderer himself. Set in a Music Hall and on the dark and grimy streets of London, we invite you into their world.

You can book your tickets for Jack the Ripper on-line at the Queen Mother Theatre. You will also find alternative booking details here.

Reference details taken from: History of the Metropolitan Police. 


Wednesday 22 August 2012

Reviews: Yeoman and The Grand Duke

Richard D has sent us a link to a review by Rupert Christiansen of the Telegraph of the BBC Proms Yeomen of the Guard:
Here, outstandingly, we had the magisterial Felicity Palmer as Dame Carruthers, that expressive and stylish tenor Andrew Kennedy as Colonel Fairfax, and the assured Heather Shipp as the flirtatiously resourceful Phoebe Meryll. The most strikingly original interpretation came from Mark Stone, who played Jack Point younger and jauntier than usual, making his final collapse all the more moving for being unexpected.....
You can read the full review here. Don't forget that it's being broadcast on BBC2 this Saturday!

I also have another Rupert Christiansen Telegraph review of The Grand Duke at the Buxton International Gilbert and Sullivan Festival. Christiansen points out that this was 'a historic occasion: the first staged professional production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s final collaboration since its premiere in 1896'. As you might expect, the Grand Duke itself garners little praise:
After the opening, the pair never spoke to each other again. The result of these tensions is a rather plodding and joyless affair that gives the distinct impression of having been created on autopilot.
But he gives the company credit for doing:
a sterling job of trying to pump some life into the corpse, in front of a full house generous with its applause.
You can read the full Grand Duke review here.

Thank you Richard!


Wednesday 15 August 2012

Yeomen Prom performance on TV

For all you Yeomen lovers that can't get to the Albert Hall, this Sunday's Prom performance of The Yeomen of the Guard will be broadcast live on BBC Radio 3 and - even better - will be televised on Saturday 25th August on BBC 2 at 8pm. You will find full details here on the BBC Proms Website. This is a fantastic cast, so definitely one not to miss : -).

Thanks to Richard D for the heads up.


Wednesday 8 August 2012

Jack the Ripper now booking!

Jack the Ripper is now open for booking! Tickets are available online through the Queen Mother Theatre or by ringing the Box Office on 01462 455166 (please leave a message). Or you can ring PBGS directly on 07946 264886. Full priced tickets are £13 and concessions £11 (For performances on Wednesday 10th and Thursday 11th October only).

Rehearsals are well under way with the cast enjoying creating all the different characters of London's East End. Jack the Ripper is already generating a lot of interest and we can promise you a wonderful production, so make sure you book early to avoid disappoinment.


Thursday 2 August 2012

Noda Nominations!

Paula as 'Patience' © XMO4 PHOTOS

Congratulations to Paula Fraser who has been nominated for Best Comedy Performance for Patience in 'Patience' in NODA's 2011-2012 District 3 Awards!  PBGS has also received a nomination for Most Colourful/Suitable Costumes.

The winners will be announced at the District Meeting on 9th September 2012, with the runners up also receiving a Certificate of Distinction. Way to go Paula!!!! And all of us for wearing those costumes so well : -).

Wednesday 1 August 2012

Follow us on Twitter

So you won't miss any PBGS news you can now follow us on Twitter. You'll find us at or by clicking on the button on the right of this page. I wonder what wonderfully pithy patter song Gilbert would have written about tweeting if it had been around in his day? Bet he would have loved it!

Sunday 15 July 2012

Jack the Ripper Casting

We are urgently looking for someone to join our Jack the Ripper cast in the part of  'Dinky'. Dinky is:
Number 2 in the gang, but a bit brighter than Dan (the self proclaimed leader of the gang) and has a bit more social knowledge. Gets very excited about being violent but never normally gets to do anything. A bit of a snitch and tries to drop Marie in it. Good timing required and energy. Needs to move. Baritone with solo parts within ensemble parts.
If you can see yourself playing Dinky and would like to have a go, then please contact us. Rehearsals are on Tuesday nights (Company) and Sunday afternoons (Principals) at Streatley Village Hall.

Sunday 8 July 2012

For he is an Englishman

©Allied Stars Ltd/Enigma Productions

What has the Olympics got to do with Gilbert and Sullivan. Well… not a lot, but with the Olympics only a hop, skip and a jump away I have managed to find a connection – 1924 Olympic Hundred Metres Champion Harold Abrahams. You will remember him from the 1981 film Chariots of Fire which, with excellent timing, has recently been given a new lease of life as a new play
‘…stuffed full of patriotic anthems and lashings of Gilbert and Sullivan…’
Natasha Tripney, Theatre Mania
If you remember the film (which is also being re-released in British cinemas this month), you’ll remember that Abrahams was a huge G&S fan and was a member of Cambridge Gilbert and Sullivan Society while studying at Caius College. Along with plenty of Vangellis, the film had 5 G&S tunes in the score, including “For He is an Englishman” from HMS Pinafore. In the film his fiancée is wrongly depicted as D'Oyly Carte singer Sybil Gordon, shown singing Yum-Yum, a role which she never actually played. In reality Abrahams married mezzo-soprano Sybil Evers, who sang small roles with D'Oyly Carte in the early thirties and who he met a decade after his triumph at the Olympics. As a mezzo, she never played Yum-Yum either. A muddle of identities which would have made Gilbert proud. At least they were both called ‘Sybil’ and film goers got a chance to sample some G&S!

As well as being a G&S lover, Abrahams was born locally in Bedford!

If you like Gilbert and Sullivan with your Olympics and are interested in the new play which tells the story of both Abrahams and Eric Liddell, Chariots of Fire premièred in May at the Hampstead Theatre and moved to the Gielgud Theatre on June 22. The run continues until November 12. You will find a selection of reviews here and booking details here.  There is even an on-line trailer for the play.


Monday 18 June 2012

Jack the Ripper Cast

We now have a cast for our next production of Jack the Ripper:

Marie Kelly - Alice Bridges
Lizzie Stride - Alison Gibbs 

Annie Chapman - Nicole Santlemann
Polly Ann Nichols - Stevie Gibbs
Cathy Eddowes - Gill Davidson 
Liza Pearl - Jo Bigg 
Martha Tabram - Louise Thonger 
Frances Coles - Justine McCreith

Druitt / Toynbee - Barny Shergold 

Chairman - Richard Fraser 
Sergeant - Peter Johnson 
Slop - Mike Costabile 
Lord Overcoat - Frank Banks 
Dan - Paul Kerswill  
Dinky - Kush Depp
Bluenose - Graham Gibbs

Congratulations to everyone who was successful after an evening of excellent auditions all round.


Monday 4 June 2012

Yeomen at the Proms and G&S in Welwyn

 Grossmith as the original Jack Point

There will be a performance of Yeomen of the Guard on Sunday 19th August as part of the BBC Proms. It's semi-staged and looks like a terrific cast of singers:
Leigh Melrose Lt Sir Richard Cholmondeley
Andrew Kennedy Colonel Fairfax
Lisa Milne Elsie Maynard
Victoria Simmonds Phoebe Meryll
Felicity Palmer Dame Carruthers
Mary Bevan Kate
Mark Richardson Sergeant Meryll
Tom Randle Leonard Meryll
Mark Stone Jack Point
Toby Stafford-Allen Wilfred Shadbolt
BBC Singers
BBC Concert Orchestra
Jane Glover
Martin Duncan stage director
Full booking details are on the BBC Proms website.

There is also some local G&S coming soon to Welwyn:

This looks like a fun event for G&S fans. The World of Gilbert and Sullivan is on Saturday 23rd June, at St Mary's Church in Welwyn. This is a fundraiser for the Acorn Playgroup and Preschool and a chance to hear the Wandering Minstrels. If you haven't come across them before, there is more information here on their website.

'The Wandering Minstrels' is an highly accomplished group of six singers and a pianist who specialize in staging songs and scenes from the immortal Gilbert and Sullivan operas. Their concerts of Savoy classics, presented in period costume and performed in traditional style, are events to remember.'

Friday 1 June 2012

Patience Review

Our thanks go to our Noda rep, Nova Horley, for this wonderful Review of our May Production of Patience. Well done everyone!

'A thoroughly entertaining production, the humour was to the fore, aided in no small amount by the adoption by Paula Fraser of a broad Brummie accent!

The story as always with G&S is slightly tenuous, but there were some lovely OTT character studies, and the ladies chorus singing beautifully, whilst the men’s chorus were strong and authoritative as befits the Dragoon Guards.

The set was nicely thought-out, very solid and well-used by the cast. There were no surprises with the lighting which was suitable for the show and sound was good.

Margaret Johnson had created exactly the right sound from her small band – they accompanied well, and the balance between singers and band was good, but they came to life in the overture which was lively, and extremely musical in quality.  I just feel it is a shame that the band had to be in the middle of the stage, with the MD encroaching on stage space – I wonder if there would be room to place the band slightly to the side, with the MD at the far side facing the middle, which would give an almost uninterrupted view of the stage – as with cast sitting, lying, kneeling on the stage the audience sometimes miss some of the action.

The placing of the ladies for the first number was a little suspect, we had ladies on the floor and on seats who were totally obscured by other ladies, the stage isn’t big, but there was plenty of room to place everyone so that they could all be seen.

Mostly the costumes were good, they looked fresh and the Dragoons all looked very smart.   I loved Bunthorne’s gold outfit and Grosvenor’s green number! The only two costumes that were slightly out of kilter were the Major’s grey velvet suit, which showed a large expanse of bare flesh, which could have been solved by wearing a white T-shirt tucked into his trousers under the white shirt, and the young Bunthorne’s green trousers were definitely in need of pulling up with a pair of braces, and his white socks/stockings were seriously creased – which spoiled the look of the ballet, as the young Patience’s costume was so pristine and charming.

Paula Fraser was a very funny and lively Patience, injecting the optimum fun into her musical numbers and lib.

Tim Sell again created a lovely OTT Bunthorne, the lusted after poet – his facial expressions were very good and added much to the performance.  He also moved well, and kept the bounciness of his character going throughout.

Richard Fraser as Grosvenor created a very saucy character, making use of his eyes to convey so much, a very telling portrayal.

The three officers of the Dragoons, Richard Dean as the Major, Graham Gibb as the Duke of Dunstable and Peter Davis as the Colonel, complemented each other well; although I heard some pitching problems at times.

Sue Wookey was a super Lady Jane – Sue always gives us a good portrayal, and this part suited her voice well, and gave her scope to be amusing as well; another person with a very expressive face.

I liked the three ladies, Angela, Ella and Saphir, played by Margaret Snape, Eve Rapley and Alice Bridges – they gave contrasting portrayals, and their voices blended well. Again they really brought out the humour.  I also liked the number with Patience and Angela, their voices sat well together, and were musically secure.

In the main the ladies wigs were excellent – I particularly liked those of Patience and Jane.

The ballet was nicely choreographed, and created a new dimension whilst not detracting from the song.  It was imaginative, and nicely danced, with one small comment to the dancers, look out for sickled feet in the lifts and jumps, however the arabesques were good from both dancers, and the lifts accomplished well.

I was pleased to see a full house, which is very unusual for these days, and everyone appeared to enjoy what was a fun and uplifting production, Alison Gibbs had done well, and injected her cast with enthusiasm which projected to the audience.

Thanks to PBGS for the hospitality and another good evening’s entertainment.'

Congratulations to everyone involved with our PBGS production of Patience, especially our Producer, Alison Gibbs and our MD, Margaret Johnson. A lovely end to on all that hard work (although it never felt like anything but fun!).


All photos © XMO4 PHOTOS 

Thursday 10 May 2012

Jack the Ripper Notes and Audition Pieces

If you are thinking of auditioning for our Autumn Show, Jack the Ripper, we already have the libretto and music audition pieces available:

Libretto Auditions
Music Auditions

To help you get into your part we also Character Notes and Director's Notes, which will help you become familiar with the show and start you thinking about which parts might suit you.

Producer Paula Fraser will be talking about the show and the different characters at our first rehearsal on Tuesday 15th May. Auditions are on Tuesday 12 June from 7.45 at Streatley Village Hall. There is a map on our Contact Us page.

If you have never auditioned before, don't be shy, just give it a go. The show is a new experience for all of us and there are a lot of parts.

Just to remind you, the Society will be hiring some scores, but if you would like to have your own copy scores and libs are available to buy from Samuel French Ltd. They cost £17 for the score and £9.25 for the libretto.