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.