Returning to the Theatre Royal stage with three of Gilbert & Sullivan’s lesser-performed operas is the National Gilbert & Sullivan Company who are presenting a double bill of Trial By Jury and The Sorcerer on September 21, and Ruddigore on September 22, at 7pm.
The comic works of librettist W.S. Gilbert and composer Arthur Sullivan combine wonderful language, satirical themes and memorable melodies while gently poking fun at the traditions of grand opera.
The company brings with it the National Gilbert & Sullivan Orchestra and a host of talented actors, including Norfolk’s own panto funny man Richard Gauntlett who will be leaving his dame’s frocks in the dressing room as he swaps pantomime for light operatic delights.
Ruddigore tells a tale of ghostly goings-on in the Cornish seaside town of Redherring where a picture gallery of ancestors comes to life and the mild-mannered Robin Oakapple commits a daily crime to save himself from certain death. The production has received five stars from the Daily Mail who said the show “which gets the company hopping about in a mini-Busby Berkeley fantasia, makes the most of every moment”, “the music sparkles” and it “should not be missed”.
Trial By Jury is set in the Courts of Justice with the Plaintiff suing the dastardly Edwin for ‘breach of promise’. Expect beautiful bridesmaids, a jury of 12 good men and a highly-inventive judge. While in The Sorcerer, the title role of which is played by Richard Gauntlett, the son of a baronet commissions a love potion to be secretly distributed amongst the local villagers, resulting in comically mismatched couples who fall in love at first sight.
The National Gilbert & Sullivan Company’s has its origins in the setting up of a Gilbert and Sullivan Festival in Buxton in 1994, which aimed to ensure the name and genre of their work survived following the closure of the renowned D’Oyly Carte Opera Company which had won worldwide acclaim for staging Gilbert & Sullivan works.
Neil Smith, one of the producers, said: “We brand our Gilbert and Sullivan as fun, friendly and for all the family. That is what you are going to get when you come and see our shows. There is a lot of humour in them. It is respectful to the piece, the costumes are generally very traditional and we want to keep hold of that because it is part of our heritage. It is something we should be justifiably proud of.”