Words by and Music by Jacques Offenbach
Nuffield Theatre,
February 2012
Cast List
Love Police
Love Police
Love Police
Love Police
Love Police
Love Police
Love Police
Can Can Dancer
Can Can Dancer
Can Can Dancer
Can Can Dancer
Can Can Dancer
Can Can Dancer
Can Can Dancer

Notes on this performance

This performance used an updated libretto written by our members, it is available to rent by contacting the committee.

118. Orpheus in the Underworld 

Yet another World Premiere…

True to form, the AGM that followed the Carmen production saw another Chairman resign, albeit reluctantly, as Terry O’Farrell had to step down due to domestic reasons. It was a last minute decision and Tony Lehrle-Fry was surprised to end the day responsible for the running of the Society. He inherited two potentially problematic shows, Gianni Schicchi (which was well behind schedule) and Orpheus in the Underworld, which was undergoing a rewrite by a group of talented members.

David Tatnall and Martin Paterson had offered to form the directing team for Orpheus but were also keen to ‘freshen it up’ by making it a two act opera, cutting out any dull songs and reworking the libretto – Nichola Paterson also helped with the latter, whilst Shaun Dodimead offered some outrageous suggestions! 

The final script was certainly entertaining and the music very lively. The usual rather dreary opening sequence, involving shepherds watching sheep and Calliope lecturing them, had been cut and replaced by the chorus singing to the tune of the Can-Can, followed quickly by Mercury (Matt Sturgeon) leaping round the stage performing I Hop – it was a frenetic start but it proved impossible to maintain that pace throughout, especially when some lengthy dialogue was involved. Perhaps the piece still needed some of the duller songs to emphasise the livelier ones?

There were some excellent moments; Pluto sweeping sheep off the stage and into the orchestra pit, the drunken Ode to Venus (Lisa Axworthy), the addition of the Love Police led by Cupid (Abigail Miller) and Eurydice choosing an audience member as her ‘preferred love’ each night. However, Orpheus (Tony Lehrle-Fry) was nearly written out of his own opera (in Act 2 he only made a brief appearance at the end) and the omission of several songs meant the show was over far earlier than usual. 

The Echo reporter seemed to be torn between praising the very good parts or criticising those sections possibly in need of a rethink: ‘Heaven or Hell? I’m talking about two colliding worlds, governed by Jupiter (David Collis) and Pluto (Roger Lamb) and not my opinion of the show. Offenbach’s operetta has been seamlessly updated in a clever and humorous fashion, though it steps beyond the realms of good taste at times with its coarse literary imagery. The principals were of high standard with Eurydice (Annie Tatnall) singing like the goddess she never quite managed to be, instead hankering for a darker life with the irrepressible Pluto, There were some fun cameos; the obsequious Styx (Terry O’Farrell) giving a creepy performance in every sense of the word. The ensemble was well drilled but the lyrics were lost in the opening numbers. The costumes were lovely, with some subtle but not unnoticed touches. The orchestra and lighting added to the atmosphere. Despite so many positives the production lacked overall sparkle.’

Sadly, ticket sales for Orpheus did not ever ‘get off the ground’ and a ‘half house’ was achieved for one performance only, leading to a loss of £3080. Fortunately, the rewrite did mean that royalties were not added to the cost of performing the show.

Terry O'Farrell

Photo of Mercury

David Collis (Jupiter), Matt Sturgeon (Mercury), Sarah Fulcher (Juno)

Photo of Protest

The protest against Jupiter led by Sarah Fulcher (Juno) - centre

Photo of Pupils

Tony Lehrle-Fry (Orpheus) with his Pupils - Terry O'Farrell, Suzie Pavitt, Jonathan Fulcher and Mark Pontin

Photo of Styx

Roger Lamb (Pluto), Terry O'Farrell (Styx), David Collis (Jupiter)

Photo of Bee Duet

The 'Bee Duet' with David Collis (Jupiter) and Annie Tatnall (Euridice)

Photo of Venus

Abigail Miller (Cupid), Lisa Axworthy (Venus), Roger Lamb (Pluto), Sarah Fulcher (Juno)



 Sister Act poster

Sister Act

30th January - 2nd February 2019, NST Campus (Nuffield Theatre), Southampton

Performances 7:30pm. Saturday Matinee 2:30pm. Tickets: From £10

Family and group discounts available

Box Office: 023 8067 1771 or purchase online