The Manx Gilbert & Sullivan Society - a potted history 1987 - 2000
pictures against each year are the programme covers. Click on a picture to see
it full size
the Winter of 1987/88 a small group of people got together in a little office
just off the quay in Ramsey to try and sing Gilbert & Sullivan music and in 1988 put on their first show which was Trial by Jury performed in Ramsey. In 1989 they presented "The Mikado" for
one night only at the Gaiety Theatre.
1989 Bill Corlett became the Chairman. Bill was a visionary and had a dream to
take the Society on tour. After the success of "The Mikado", the Society ambitiously
attempted to put on "The Gondoliers" for 4 nights at the Gaiety Theatre
on the Success of "The Gondoliers" the Society engaged the services of a professional
director, David Gardiner. A publicity stunt went wrong with wonderful consequences.
It was suggested that if we write to Buckingham Palace and ask for a real Yeoman
to attend the theatre, we should receive a polite refusal. We intended to
publish this refusal in the local paper for publicity. We received an acceptance and
gained the attendance of 2 real yeomen from the Tower of London. They stood
in the foyer before the show and walked on stage during the curtain call to tremendous
applause. They were also well received at the local schools during the daytime.
was a sad year. Our Secretary, Judy Cross died. She had been a tireless worker
and a wonderful inspiration. The Society remember her by presenting an annual
award for the most memorable moment in each year's show. David
Gardiner returned to direct Iolanthe for us. Yet another ambitious production
was achieved with flying fairies. Olwen Smith won the first Judy Cross award as
the Fairy Queen for flying into the scenery and bouncing back on stage.
brought another change of director, Jonathan Clift. He came to visit us for two
weeks in May but did not return for his planned visit in October just before the
show. The show was polished by our Assistant Director, Linda Grainger who even
appeared on stage as a dragoon wearing a moustache in order to make the numbers
Corlett, forever ambitious, had been to the Buxton G&S Festival in 1993 and had
met John Reed. He somehow managed to persuade him to direct us in "Pirates of
Penzance". At first we were in awe but soon came to regard John and his manager,
Nicholas Kerri as good friends of the Society. John worked us hard but gave us
all an experience we shall never forget. The Production was so well received by
both cast and audience that it was natural to invite John and Nikki to become
was an exhausting year for us. We took John's production of "Pirates" to the Buxton
G&S Festival, thus fulfilling an ambition of our Chairman's. We were pleased at
our performance and our Major-General won the award for best character part. With
the Festival at the beginning of August and our regular show at the end of October,
we were hard pressed to put in the rehearsals for "The Mikado". There were only
2 principles who appeared in both shows which is a tribute to the standard of
our singers. John Reed again directed us and gave us an excellent production.
Our Chairman now had a new ambition - to compete in the G&S Festival in America!
was another sad year for the society when our Chairman, Bill Corlett died. He
had been a visionary and had worked tirelessly for the Society. Another award
was created in Bill's memory, a quaich which is an ancient cup of friendship,
is to be presented to the most useful chorus member in each show.
John Reed directed us again for Ruddigore but owing to ill health was not able to return
in October to finish off the production. We relied upon our Assistant Director,
Rene Savage, and Musical Director, John Elliott, to put us through our paces.
John was not well enough to direct us in "Gondoliers", he recommended Cynthia
Morey, another ex D'Oyly Carte stalwart. Once again our audiences were enthusiastic
about our production. A lasting memory of the show was during the Cachucha when
one of the enthusiastic chorus colided with a flat during the dress rehearsal
and knocked it over.
to save some money as all society's have to do from time to time, we decided to
let our previous Assistant Director, Rene Savage, and our Musical Director, John
Elliott, direct "HMS Pinafore". We arranged for the Sea Cadets of the Training
Ship Manxman to join us onstage and provide the guard of honour for the Admiral's
entrance. A most splendid sight it was.
to using a professional director, we engaged the services of Doug Waft, uncle
of 3 of our members. He gave us a completely different production to our previous
Iolanthe. The production was noted for its aggressive fairies who took note of
the New Zealand All Blacks Haka which they perform before their rugby matches. It was pleasing
to see Jenny Smart in a principal role as she had been a member since she was
5 in 1990.
We attempted an ambitious project, a sponsored sing through 11 operas in one weekend
at the beginning of April. The weekend turned out to be a great social and financial
success but we had very small audiences. For Yeomen of the Guard in October we
once again employed the services of Doug Waft. Notable feature was the "Les Mis"
walk done by the Yeomen during the first chorus whilst the women did it double
time!!! The most memorable moment was Wilfred Shadbolt played by Geoff Collier eating pigs trotters on stage
which looked very disgusting, kindly supplied by our butcher member, Chris Burns.
You could hear the groans in the audience when he dropped a piece, picked it up,
wiped it on his costume, and ate it. As the curtain dropped on the last night
the fire alarm sounded and we had to evacuate in costume.