Sunday 31 March 2013

The Zoo

Not long now! Our Triple Bill opens in 10 days and there are still tickets available for all nights. We advise booking now for Friday 12th and Saturday13 March to avoid disappointment because these nights always prove popular!

Sandwiched between Cox and Box and Trial by Jury we are presenting The Zoo by Sullivan and Stephenson, a farcical tale of two pairs of 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. Set in London Zoo, all kind of confusion reigns until all is finally resolved and the couples live happily ever after.

The Zoo premièred in 1875 at the St James’s Theatre, just 10 weeks after Trial By Jury opened at the Royalty Theatre. At this point Sullivan’s great partnership with Gilbert was still in the future, with Sullivan composing Trial with Gilbert, The Zoo with Stephenson and two comic pieces with Burnand (including our opening piece, Cox and Box). How Sullivan came together with Stephenson (then writing under his pen-name of Bolton Rowe) is the source of a lot of speculation. But it appears likely that the libretto at the very least was being prepared by Stephenson while Sullivan was getting ready for Trial by Jury with Gilbert, and Sullivan was probably already committed to The Zoo and had started on the music.

When The Zoo opened at St James's Theatre, it shared the bill with Gilbert’s comic play, Tom Cobb. As with Cox and Box, which Gilbert reviewed, the two seemed to be always circulating within each other’s orbit waiting for destiny to finally push them permanently together.

After a short period at St James's, The Zoo transferred to the Haymarket and finished after a five week run. It had two short revivals before vanishing from sight, having never enjoyed the success of its competitor, Trial by Jury. But Gilbert was already a well known comic writer and librettist while Stephenson had all his success still before him. 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!

Paula Fraser rehearsing the part of Laetitia

For full booking details visit our Next Show Page.

Photo © Sue Wookey

Sunday 24 March 2013

Cox and Box

Bob Little and Graham Breeze rehearsing Cox and Box

It’s not long now until our Triple Bill, which will be showing at the Queen Mother Theatre, Hitchin from 10th-13th April. We will be opening our trio with Cox and Box. Written by Sullivan and Burnand, this is a first for Putteridge Bury 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. It has all the elements of farce and we know our audiences will enjoy every minute of it.

The idea for Cox and Box originally came from F.C. Burnand who was holding a musical supper party and thought it would be a good idea to set Maddison Morton’s farce, Box and Cox, to music. He persuaded Sullivan to write the music, the title was reversed, and it was presented at midnight to an audience of mainly actors who had arrived straight from their various theatres. George du Maurier (of later Trilby fame) played Box. The party and the presentation went so well that it was repeated at the home of artist and business man, Arthur Lewis, with Sullivan again playing the piano. After a third charity presentation Sullivan orchestrated it and on 11 May 1867 it received its first public performance at the Adelphi Theatre.

In the audience at the Adelphi was the critic of Fun magazine, who was none other than W. S. Gilbert, oblivious of what the future would hold. Sullivan, equally oblivious, saw his work with Burnand, which included The Contrabandista, as a bit of a fun detour from his serious composing career. Like Cox and Box, the two were destined to ‘collide in the same room’ and forge a connection that they could never have imagined.

You can book online for our Trio, which includes Trial By Jury and The Zoo, at the Queen Mother Theatre Website, or you can ring their Box Office on 01462 455166. If you want to order directly through PBGS then please contact Ketina on 07946 264886 or email us at Please also contact us directly if you'd like to make a group booking.

Sources: Gilbert and Sullivan and their World by Leslie Baily. Wikipedia.
Photo: Sue Wookey

Sunday 10 March 2013

Triple Bill Booking

Our Triple Bill preparations are coming on apace, as you can see from these photos of us rehearsing The Zoo! We are presenting The Zoo along with Cox and Box and a Trial By Jury with a twist, at the Queen Mother Theatre, Hitchin from 10th-13th April.
 Brian Miles as Carboy in The Zoo

 Paula Fraser as Laetitia and Brian Miles as Carboy in The Zoo

 Jo Biggs as Eliza

There are lots of ways to book your tickets. You can book online at the Queen Mother Theatre Website, or you can ring their Box Office on 01462 455166. The theatre box office has limited opening hours so you are encouraged to leave a message on the answerphone for them to get back to you. You can also download and print our Booking Form here, and send it to the theatre with a cheque. Full details are on the booking form. If you want to order directly through PBGS then please contact Ketina on 07946 264886 or email us at Please also contact us directly if you'd like to make a group booking.

We suggest booking early as some nights sell out faster than others!
Jo Biggs with Producer Richard Fraser

All photos © Sue Wookey

Thursday 7 March 2013

'Come and Sing The Mikado' in Harringay

Music on the Ladder are putting on a Come and Sing "The Mikado" event on Saturday, 8 June at St. Paul's Church, Harringay, N4:
The idea is that everyone rocks up at 1 pm to rehearse and then at 7 pm we unleash our endeavours on the public in a concert performance. We would like to invite members of PBGS to come along - if anyone is interested, they should send an e-mail to, letting us know their voice part. It's £10 for singers and £5 for audience, with proceeds going to church funds. There are refreshments available throughout the day, and the primary objective is for everyone to have a laugh.

In addition to needing a fantastic come and sing chorus, we'll also need principals - to this end, we're auditioning for the principal roles on Saturday, 23 March. Again, anyone interested should e-mail, letting us know which part they'd like to sing for and we'll get back to them with more details and specific times.
You can find out more about Music on the Ladder on their facebook page at