Words by W.S. Gilbert and Music by Arthur Sullivan
The Guildhall,
March 1949
Cast List
Major-General Stanley
The Pirate King
Sergeant of Police
Mabel (replacement - illness)

Notes on this performance

20. Trial by Jury & The Pirates of Penzance

A Silver Jubilee…

Plans to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Society were made well in advance. It was resolved to perform Trial by Jury and The Pirates of Penzance at the Guildhall in March, collaborate in a joint show with the Dramatic Society, hold a Dinner Dance and possibly stage a second production in October. 

John A Edwards and D Cecil Williams were again appointed as the directing team for the main show and, ‘in view of the heavy programme and the need of so many members for individual tuition in stage-craft’, Philip E Graham was enlisted to assist with the directing - he declined to audition for a main part due to these new duties.

Mr Graham was also appointed as Producer of Cox and Box, the SOS contribution to the joint production with SADS, whilst Mr Williams acted as MD and accompanist. This production ran for three nights at The Avenue Hall in February and, according to the review, ‘The whole opera went with a swing; Sullivan’s music was gay, lilting and very well sung by Bernard Harman, as Cox, Sydney Egerton, as Box, and Bruce Ellery as a very bouncing Bouncer. A grand trio.’

Meanwhile, six more ladies were accepted as acting members - this made the potential chorus so large that the directors were given the power to allocate people to sing in either Trial or Pirates (some managed to be in both). It would seem that the Society reverted to closed auditions for this production and principals for the operettas were duly cast – only Bert Wareham featured in both lists (as the Usher and Samuel). George W Mitchell, who had directed many of the Society’s shows, was unwell and unable to attend either of the audition evenings and a request that he should be heard separately was dismissed – he subsequently resigned from SAOS as a protest at the treatment he had received. For the first time since its formation, Eva Thorne was missing from the company but this was due to her mother’s poor health.

The Echo featured three photographs of the production but the review was unusually brief - of Trial he wrote, ‘ Trial by Jury (not one of G and S’s finer works) had some delightful moments.’ Pirates fared a little better: ‘Pirates is the longer (and much better) of the two operas. Those familiar, bright and sparkling choruses, with their charming instrumentation, are still as infectious as they ever were.’  However, Tom Judd did get a special mention, ‘magnificent as the Major-General.’

At the end of the Saturday performance, the Mayor held a reception for the company and helpers in the Conference Room. Trial and Pirates made a profit of £299 5s 3d (£299.26) and a donation of £110 was made to the Holy Rood Merchant Navy Memorial Fund at the recommendation of the Mayor – a further £110 was shared between the Barlow and Ellyatt Homes in Church Street, the PPDSA, the NSPCC, the Blind Welfare Fund and the Children’s Hospital. The £40 profit from the collaboration with SADS was jointly donated to the Little Theatre Fund.

Terry O'Farrell

Photo of Paradox

Ronald Bottley (Frederic), Bruce Ellery (The Pirate King), Marjorie Kennedy (Ruth)

 LB books dog

Hopefully coming to you in early 2021!