Ruddigore by W.S. Gilbert and Sir Arthur Sullivan
Hounslow Light Opera Company
Hampton Hill Theatre - 05 November 2018
Forlorn Forbears and Dastardly Deeds
by W.S. Gilbert and Sir Arthur Sullivan
Hounslow Light Opera Company at Hampton Hill Theatre until 3rd November
Review by Didie Bucknall
It is an ambitious venture to stage any Gilbert and Sullivan operetta at the Hampton Hill Theatre, but in tribute to their late, great and much loved President, Chair and long-standing member Peter King, the Hounslow Light Opera Company decided to put on Peter’s favourite G&S, the less familiar, zany Ruddigore. They gave a delightful and spirited performance to a packed and appreciative audience.
The auditorium lights dimmed, the conductor Isabella Stocchetti raised her baton, there was a drum roll - but where was the orchestra? There is no orchestra pit in the theatre, yet we had the full orchestral gamut - a brilliant virtuoso performance throughout, arranged by musical director Lee Dewsnap playing his Yamaha electronic organ.
The curtain rises to an excellent backdrop of a harbour scene and the professional bridesmaids appear, bewailing the lack of weddings in the town. The only possible candidates are Rose Maybud, Dame Hannah and Mad Margaret (wildly played by Felicity Morgan). Dame Hannah (Clare Henderson Roe), has taken a vow never to marry, as her love, Sir Roderic Murgatroyd, inherited the curse of Ruddigore, and so was doomed to commit a foul crime each day or die in agony.
Rose is in love with our hero, Robin Oakapple, but he is too bashful to make the first move. The two, played by Johanna-Marie D’Oyly Chambers and Paul Huggins, have a touching duet in which they express their love by pretending that they are asking advice for lovelorn friends. The scene is enlivened by the shenanigans of Old Adam, a hugely enjoyable comic performance by Edz Barrett.
More excitement, a ship has come in and jaunty sailor Dick Dauntless (Tony Cotterell) is in town. He dances a very energetic hornpipe while smoking his pipe and singing - astonishingly - how does he do this without running out of breath? The very professional choreography was devised and arranged by ex-ballerina Karen Munday with the help of Swan Award winner Fay Ellingham.
A G&S operetta needs a large cast of singers to swell the sound and with a small stage this is not possible. Ingeniously, extra members, ex-members, friends and members of other groups were gathered to form backup from the auditorium slips, the elegant bachelors in natty attire even sporting bowler hats.
Ruddigore castle, hung with portraits of former Baronets of Ruddigore, is a great set - congratulations to designer Wesley Henderson Roe who was also the excellent director of a great tribute to Peter King.
Read Didie Bucknall’s full review at www.markaspen.wordpress.com/2018/11/02/ruddigore
Photography by John Malone
Hounslow Light Opera Company at Hampton Hill Theat