Words by W.S. Gilbert and Music by Arthur Sullivan
Royal Pier Pavilion,
May 1931
Cast List
Major-General Stanley
The Pirate King
Sergeant of Police

Notes on this performance

8. The Pirates of Penzance

A parting of the ways…

Time for politics! A General Meeting was held at St Mark’s School on July 29th, 1930 at which Miss Eva Thorne proposed the formation of Southampton (Above Bar) Operatic Society – seconded by Mrs Parish, the motion was ’carried with acclamation’.  Thus the two wings of the Society separated, the Dramatic Society continued and, as Southampton Amateur Dramatic Society (SADS), it was still performing in 1955 but must have disbanded soon after that. It was also agreed that members would pay an annual subscription of 12/6d (63p) and that the first show would be Iolanthe at a date to be fixed.

One of the first committee meetings seemed to have been quite an acrimonious affair, the MD, Mr Andrews had to be persuaded not to leave the meeting and the Producer, Mr Mitchell, resigned! They met again two days later when Mr Mitchell was assured that, ‘he had the full confidence and support of the entire Society’ and it was agreed ‘the principle of the double-cast be adhered to this season.’ 

Soon after, it was decided that there was not a suitable place at a reasonable cost for the production of Iolanthe, so the group would put on The Pirates of Penzance at the Royal Pier Pavilion instead. Rehearsals began straight away and the producer and MD were asked ‘to cast the opera immediately without auditions.’ Later the Committee agreed to hire the Pavilion at a cost of £22 for the week, though there was annoyance that patrons would be required to pay a toll of 1d to enter the Pier.

The Pirates of Penzance was well received, the Hampshire Chronicle reported, ‘Gilbert and Sullivan’s opera demands, before everything else, speed, good timing and general slickness. Mr. George W. Mitchell, the Hon. Producer, duly makes certain that his company is well instructed in regard to these essentials.

Mr. Mitchell plays the part of the Major-General with that neat emphasis of point which recalls Sir Henry Litton. Herbert W. Adcock was very impressive as the Pirate King. He has a voice of splendid resonance and a fine stage presence. Sidney W. Egerton, the Pirate Apprentice, sang magnificently. His voice is of rare quality. Alfred Tomalin got great fun out of the Sergeant of Police. 

Kathleen Long, in the principal singing part, made seemingly easy work of the considerable vocal difficulties of the role, and Gladys Cleave and Winifred Thorne both sang prettily, their voices being in charming contrast. With Connie Hale, they ministered, but not too stagily, to the General in his distress. Eva Thorne, as Ruth, got all the subtle humour out of the part it contains and sang delightfully.’

The only mention of finances in the minutes was: ‘Discussion took place as to why the Pirates show had not been a bigger success financially.’ However, Miss Broomfield offered to raffle 100 cigarettes and 2lbs of chocolates at the AGM to help improve the funds.

Terry O'Farrell

Photo of Performers

   Alfred J Tomalin (Sergeant of Police) and Eva Thorne (Ruth)                      Herbert Adcock (The Pirate King)