1999 – Yeomen Of The Guard

The Yeomen Of The Guard

(or The Merryman and His Maid)

by W.S.Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan.


Monday, 10th May to Saturday, 15th May, 1999
The Spadesbourne Suite, Burcot Lane, Bromsgrove.

The Yeomen Of The Guard saw a return to the works of Gilbert and Sullivan after a four year absence, and a return of Roberta Morell as director.

Cast And Credits



  • Stage Director: Roberta Morrell
  • Musical Director: Alan Biddle
  • Elsie Maynard (A Strolling Singer): Sue Thomas
  • Jack Point (A Strolling Jester): J. Paul Murdock
  • Coloner Fairfax (Under Sentence Of Death): Mike Faulkner
  • Sergent Meryll (Of The Yeomen Of The Guard): George Brooks
  • Phoebe Meryll (Sergent Meryll’s Daughter): Lynda Dunn
  • Leonard Meryll (Sergent Meryll’s Son): Roger Hanke
  • Dame Carruthers (Housekeeper Of The Tower): Sue Bills
  • Wilfred Shadbolt (Head Jailer): Malcolm Dunn
  • Sir Richard Cholmondeley (Lieutenant Of The Tower): Ian G. Cox
  • Kate (Dame Carruthers’ Niece): Jan Harvey
  • 1st Yeoman: Arthur Bowkett
  • 2nd Yeoman: David Holland
  • 1st Citizen: Roger Hanke
  • 2nd Citizen: Dave Shaw
  • The Priest: Derek Lamb
  • The Headsman: Ron Perry




Colonel Fairfax, a recognised war hero, is to be executed on Tower Green – falsely accused of sorcery by a relative who stands to inherit his estate. Sergeant Meryll awaits the return of his son, Leonard, from the wars, hoping that he will bring with him a reprieve for the Colonel. When Leonard returns with no reprieve the two of them along with Sergeant Meryll’s daughter, Phoebe, hatch a plan to rescue the Colonel from the tower. Whilst being transfered to the death cell, Fairfax requests that Sir Richard Cholmondeley, the Lieutenant of the Tower find him a wife for his last hours of life and thus thwart his relative’s ploy.

Meanwhile, two travelling players, Jack point and Elsie Maynard, arrive at the Tower to put on a show in the hope of raising some money to help Elsie’s sick mother. After their performance the crowds get over-boisterous, and when the Lieutenant arrives to restore order he offers Elsie the opportuninity to marry the condemned man for a payment of 100 crowns. Elsie, in need of the money, agrees to the plan and is led away blindfolded to marry a man she will never see.

Phoebe, using her powers over the infatuated head jailer, Shadbolt, manages to free Fairfax, and, with the real Leonard in hidding, Fairfax takes on his identity. When the execution is due to take place his absence is discovered.

Two days have passed with no sign of the prisoner. Shadbolt is desperate to clear his name, and Point wants the hand of (the now married) Elsie, so they decide to lie and claim to have shot the fleeing prisoner. The disguised Fairfax discovers that it is Elsie that he has married, but cannot tell her who he is. Point attempts to woo Elsie, but Fairfax ridicules him and, showing him how it should be done, wins her heart instead. Shadbolt realises what is going on when Phoebe becomes jealous of Elsie and Fairfax disguised as Leonard. In order to keep the secret, Phoebe agrres to marry Shadbolt.

The Real Leonard now returns with Fairfax’s reprieve, and Fairfax is now able to reveal his true identity. Dame Carruthers, the Tower housekeeper, learns of the plot and uses the information to force Sergeant Meryll to marry her. When Elsie is told that the man that she married is still alive she can no longer marry Leonard she resigns herself to life with her husband. She is overjoyed, however, when they meet and she finds out that they are the same person.

This only leaves the heart-broken Jack Point…

Song List


Act 1:

  • When Maiden Loves She Sits And Sighs (Phoebe)
  • Tower Warders Under Orders (Citezens & Yeomen)
  • This Is The Autumn Of Our Life (2nd Yeoman & Chorus)
  • When Our Gallant Norman Foes (Dame Carruthers & Yeomen)
  • Alas! I Waver To And Fro (Phoebe, Leonard, & Sergeant Meryll)
  • Is Life A Boon? (Colonel Fairfax)
  • Here’s A Man Of Jollity! (Crowd, Elsie & Point)
  • I Have A Song To Sing, O! (Elsie & Point)
  • How Say You Maiden, Will You Wed? (Elsie, Point & Lieutenant)
  • I’ve Jibe And Joke And Quip And Crank (Point)
  • ‘Tis Done! I Am A Bride! (Elsie)
  • Were I Thy Bride (Phoebe)
  • Oh, Sergeant Meryll, Is It True? (All)

Act 2:

  • Night Has Spread Her Pall Once More (Chorus)
  • Warders Are We (Dame Carruthers)
  • Oh! A Private Buffoon (Point)
  • Hereupon We’re Both Agreed (Point & Shadbolt)
  • Free From His Fetters Grim (Colonel Fairfax)
  • Strange Adventure (Kate, Dame Carruthers, Fairfax & Sergeant Meryll)
  • Hark! What Was That, Sir? (Elsie, Phoebe, Dame Carruthers, Fairfax, Wilfred, Point, Lietenant, Sergeant Meryll & Chorus)
  • A Man Who Would Woo A Fair Maiden (Elsie, Phoebe & Fairfax)
  • When A Wooer Goes A Woo-ing (Elsie, Phoebe, Fairfax & Point)
  • Come The Pretty Young Bride (All)

What The Press Said


The Yeomen Of The Guard

An exceptional Yeoman and everyone involved should be thrilled with it. Roberta Morrell’s imaginative and innovative production was a joy. Crowd and chorus scenes were particularly impressive and every principle was excellent. To enjoy G&S to the full it is essential that every word spoken or sung is heard and the cast fully met this requirement. It would be totally unfair to single out any principle as every part, small and large was superbly played. The orchestra, sets, and costumes matched the high standards of the production and performance. Congratulations BOS it was superb.

Review by Trevor Guest for NODA News, 1999

Time to salute energetic cast

A lively performance of The Yeomen of the Guard by the cast members of Bromsgrove Operatic Society delighted the Spadesbourne Suite audience.

With a backdrop of the Tower of London plus colourful costumes, Gilbert and Sullivan’s occasionally raucous tale of unrequited love was brought to life through dance and song.

The cast of beefeaters, peasants and gentry, in bright and authentic costume, were very professional and everyone on stage was in high spirits.

Special mentions go to producer Roberta Morrell, the orchestra, conducted by Alan Biddle, and Sue Thomas, who, as Elsie Maynard, stole the show with her sweet voice.

I also enjoyed J.Paul Murdock’s energetic performance as Jack Point, the crazy jester.

Review by Sarah Chambers for the Bromsgrove Messenger, 27th May 1999

Bravo to performers

Through your paper I would like to congratulate Bromsgrove Operatic Society on its recent production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Yeoman of the Guard.

I was among a party which thoroughly enjoyed a really good evening’s entertainment, performed at a truly professional level.

The performance was polished and sparkling. The musicians were sensitive to the changing moods of the work, the set and costumes were excellent, the principals most accomplished in their roles and obviously supported by an excellent team both on and off the stage. On leaving the Spadesbourne Suite, all one could overhear were comments of congratulation and enjoyment.

With a local society performing at this standard, one has no need to travel further afield.

Mrs K Pitt – Letter to the Bromsgrove Messenger, 27th May 1999

1998 – Call Me Madam

Call Me Madam

Music and Lyrics by Irving Berlin. Book by Howard Lindsey and Russell Crouse.


Monday, 11th May to Saturday, 16th May, 1998
The Spadesbourne Suite, Burcot Lane, Bromsgrove.

This was the first (and only to date) show under the direction of Paul Milton.

Cast And Credits



  • Stage Director and Choreographer: Paul Milton
  • Musical Director: Alan Biddle
  • Sally Adams: Lynda Dunn
  • Cosmo Constantine: Malcolm Dunn
  • Kenneth Gibson: J. Paul Murdock
  • Princess Maria: Sue Thomas
  • Sebastian Sebastian: Mike Faulkner
  • Pemberton Maxwell: George Brooks
  • Hugo Tantinnin: David Shaw
  • Miss Phillips: Pam Crawley
  • Grand Duchess Sophie: Hillary Holland
  • Grand Duke Otto: Ian G. Cox
  • Henry Gibson: Norman Briers
  • Secretary Of State Acheston: Frank Fawcett
  • Senator Gallagher: David Holland
  • Congressman Wilkins: John Teece
  • Senator Brockbank: David Pavely




Sally Adams, a brash Washington hostess, is suprisingly made ambassador to Lichtenburg, a small and very poor Duchy in central Europe. She appoints Kenneth Gibson as her young assistant to go with her as a political favour to his father.

Her brash approach is disconcerting to the rather stuffy society of Lichtenburg, except to Cosmo Constantine, the Foreign Minister, who falls in love with her. Cosmo is an idealist who does not want his country ‘Americanised’, unlike his political opponents who would dearly like a dollar grant.

Sebastian, the wily Prime Minister, tricks Sally into obtaining a loan much to the dismay of Cosmo, who resigns, causing a general election.

Meanwhile, the other love interest between the Princess Maria and Kenneth is promoted by Sally, which puts her in disfavour with the Grand Duke and Duchess. Sally also commits the cardinal diplomatic sin of campaigning for Cosmo in the elections. This interference in the politics of another country results in her being recalled to Washington in disgrace.

Kenneth and the Princess marry and Kenneth builds a hydro-electric plant which solves Lichtenburg’s economic problems.

Cosmo is elected as Prime Minister and on a state visit to America proposes to Sally.

Song List


Act 1:

  • Mrs Sally Adams (Ensemble)
  • The Hostess with the Mostess (Sally)
  • Washington Square Dance (Sally & Ensemble)
  • Lichtenburg (Cosmo)
  • Can You Use Any Money Today (Sally)
  • Marrying For Love (Cosmo & Sally)
  • The Ocharina (Maria, Maxwell & Ensemble)
  • It’s A Lovely Day Today (Kenneth & Maria)
  • The Best Thing For You Would Be (Sally)

Act 2:

  • Something to Dance About (Sally and Ensemble)
  • Once Upon A Time Today (Kenneth)
  • They Like Ike (Wilkins, Brockbank & Gallagher)
  • You’re Just In Love (Kenneth & Sally)
  • It’s A Lovely Day Today – reprise (Kenneth & Maria)
  • Mrs Sally Adams – reprise (Ensemble)
  • You’re Just In Love – reprise (Kenneth & Sally)

Irving Berlin

Born May 11th 1888, Temum, Siberia, Russia.
Died May 11th 1989, New York aged 101.
Originaly named Isreal Isadore Baline.

Call Me Madam was Irving Berlin’s follow up to Annie Get Your Gun, And was first staged in 1950. He is best remembered, however, for the biggest selling song of all time, White Christmas.

What The Press Said


Song for Europe

Common Market developements have tended to date the story about the USA coming to the financial rescue of a struggling European country – with or without the help of the impressionable Ambassador Sally Adams.

The musical’s major asset, however, is the timeless popularity of Irving Belin’s catchy songs. Coupled with appealing performances by leading cast members the outcome is a value for money package.

Lynda Dunn’s warm personality makes her an obvious choice as the American Ambassador sent to help struggling Lichtenburg. She strike a happy medium between brash dominance and subtle persuasion.

Sue Thomas has a sweet singing voice as Princess Maria and Malcolm Dunn (Cosmo), J. Paul Murdock, George Brooks and Mike Faulkner are prominent performers.

Review by Pete Swingler for the Birmingham Evening Mail

Call Me Madam

This is not one of Irving Berlin’s (or mine) most popular shows but this production was by far the best I have seen, Lynda Dunn “Sally” and real life husband Malcolm “Cosmo” were excellent and led a very strong cast. Paul Murdock “Kenneth” was also outstanding and has a very good baritone range. Sue Thomas was a lovely “Princess Maria”. The other principals and chorus together with excellent orchestral backing completed a most accomplished performance. Thank you Bromsgrove for a very enjoyable evening.


1997 – Anything Goes

Anything Goes

Music and Lyrics by Cole Porter. Original book by P.G.Wodehouse and Guy Bolton. New book by Timothy Crouse, John Weidman, Howard Lindsay and Russell Crouse.


Monday, 12th May to Saturday, 17th May, 1997
The Spadesbourne Suite, Burcot Lane, Bromsgrove.

Cast And Credits


  • Stage Director: Roberta Morrell
  • Musical Director: Alan Biddle
  • Reno Sweeney: Lynda Dunn
  • Hope Harcourt: Sue Thomas
  • Sir Evelyn Oakleigh: Malcolm Dunn
  • Billy Crocker: J. Paul Murdock
  • Moonface Martin: George Brooks
  • Erma: Tracey Jarvis
  • Elisha Whitney: John Teece
  • Evangeline Harcourt: Hilary Holland
  • Captain: Ian G. Cox
  • Purser: Dave Pavely
  • Henry T. Dobson: David Shaw
  • John: David Holland
  • Luke: Kath Walker
  • Fred the Bartender: Peter Hensman
  • Young Girl: Gill Rowlands
  • Young Sailor: Steve Stanier
  • Sailors Quartet: Alan Bailey, Phil Fidoe, John Wheeler, Andie Moore



In a Manhattan bar short-sighted millionaire Elisha Whitney meets his assistant Billy Crocker who has organised his boss’s transatlantic trip. Reno Sweeney, a club singer, arrives angrily as Billy has stood her up, and Billy admits to her that he loves another.

The S.S. American is about to set sail and Billy arrives just in time to deliver Whitney’s passport. Evangeline Harcourt, an old flame of Whitney’s is also on board with her daughter, Hope, and Hope’s fiance, Sir Evelyn Oakliegh. They plan to marry on board. This news is devastating for Billy as it is Hope that he secretly loves. In desperation he stows away.

Also on board are two more stow aways, world renound gangster Moonface Martin, and his moll, Erma. They help Billy out with a fake passport, and also steal Whitney’s glasses so that he cannnot discover Billy’s presence on board. As Billy and Moonface work there way through a number of disguises to prevent capture, Reno falls for Sir Evelyn.

Billy and moonface are caught, but Billy has Moonface’s passport, and instead of being locked up he is used to satisfy the passengers hunger for celebrities as the ships biggest star.

When Reno puts on a show for the passengers, she asks for those present to confess their sins. Sir Evelyn, to Hope’s horror, confesses to a fling with a chineese girl, and Billy confesses his true identity. He and moonface are locked up.

Two chineese converts are also locked away for gambling, and Billy and Moonface, after a quick game of strip poker, steal their cloths and escape. They arrive at the wedding in disguise and manage to break it up. A quick switch around and a triple wedding takes place instead with Hope and Billy, Reno and Evelyn and Evangeline and Whitney getting married.

Song List

Act 1:

  • I Get a Kick Out of You (Reno)
  • There’s No Cure Like Travel (Sailors and Passengers)
  • Bon Voyage (Sailors and Passengers)
  • You’re the Top (Reno & Billy)
  • Easy to Love (Billy & Hope)
  • The Crew Song (Elisha Whitney)
  • There’ll Always be a Lady Fair Friendship (Quartet)
  • It’s Delovely (Billy & Hope)
  • Anything Goes (Reno & Company)

Act 2:

  • Public Enemy Number One (Captain, Purser & Company)
  • Blow, Gabriel, Blow (Reno & Company)
  • Goodbye, Little Dream, Goodbye (Hope)
  • The Gypsey in Me (Evelyn)
  • Be Like a Bluebird (Moonface)
  • All Through the Night (Billy & Hope)
  • Buddie Beware (Erma and Quartet)
  • I Get a Kick Out of You (Reno, Evelyn, Billy & Chorus)
  • Anything Goes (Company)

What The Press Said



Steam Ahead

… Expressive and motivated stowaway J Paul Murdock reveals his vocal talents with Easy To Love and he has excellent singing partners in Sue Thomas (Hope) and Lynda Dunn (Reno).

Malcolm Dunn’s Sir Evelyn is comical, but it is George Brooks who makes the most of his part as the gregarious gangster.

Review by Pete Swingler for the Birmingham Evening Mail

Only The Best!

Anything Goes! certainly doesn’t apply to Bromsgrove Operatic Society’s most recent production. The show should have been re-titled ‘only the best!’ as principle characters, chorus, costume, casting, choreography and orchestra were all excellent.

Not one word of criticism was heard from the audience, only people singing the refrains. I have rarely seen a show of this calibre off the professional stage.

Review by Julie Ward for the Bromsgrove Advertiser

Art & Entertainment: Amateur Theatre

… It is always good to see amateur performers showing total professionalism in handling unexpected moments.

Paul Murdock, in the central role of Billy Crocker in Bromsgrove Operatic Society’s dynamic production of Anything Goes last week, accidentally dropped his pencil into the orchestra on saurday night, while disguised as a sailor taking notes from his shortsighted boss, from whome he is hiding, aboard ship.

Totally unfazed, he shrugged – and threw his notebook after it.

Then, on his next entrance, complaining in accordance with the script that he has nearly been nabbed by his boss, he added, “My notepad and pencil go overboard” – and returned to the script with, “… and everybody’s pointing at me in this stupid disguise.”

He recieved well deserved applause – as he had done a few years ago, after a fall during the tango in Bromsgrove’s Viva Mexico! caused an injury which necessitated his ending the week as comic bad man Pepe with an arm in a sling.Thereafter, he found the opportunity to refer to himself as a one-armed bandit. It’s called thinking on your feet, and some people find it easier to do than others.

Art & Entertainment Column by John Slim for the Birmingham Post

Anything Goes

I liked this production by Roberta Morrell, she always manages to get the best out of the performers and with such experienced people as J. Paul Murdock playing “Billy” and George Brooks as “Moonface”, the show went with a swing all the way through. The girls looked good and sang well as did Malcolm Dunn as “Evelyn Oakleigh”. The minor principals and chorus gave them good support and with an excellent set and costumes this turned out to be an excellent evening’s entertainment.


1996 – Calamity Jane

Calamity Jane

Adapted by Ronald Hanmer and Phil Park from a stage play by Chrles K. Freeman after the Warner Bros. film written by James O’Hanlon. Music by Sammy Fain. Lyrics by Paul Fancis Webster.

Monday, 13th May to Saturday, 17th May, 1996
The Spadesbourne Suite, Burcot Lane, Bromsgrove.

Cast And Credits

  • Stage Director: Stephen Duckham
  • Musical Director: Alan Biddle
  • Calamity Jane: Karen Hartley
  • Wild Bill Hickock: Kevin Hirons
  • Lt. Danny Gilmartin: Craig Calder
  • Katie Brown: Sonia Bethell
  • Henry Miller: George Brooks
  • Susan: Jennifer Proctor
  • Francis Fryer: J. Paul Murdock
  • Adelaide Adams: Hilary Holland
  • Rattlesnake: Frank Fawcett
  • Doc Pierce: David Shaw
  • Joe: John Teece
  • Hank: David Holland
  • Pete: Alan Bailey
  • Colonel: Ian G. Cox


One of the legendary figures of the Old West, Calamity Jane lives in Deadwood and rides shotgun on the stage-coach between Deadwood and Chicago. She dresses as a man, drinks like a man and can shoot better than most men. Although there is an element of truth in her adventures, the number of Indians shot and brave soldiers saved by her have led the townspeople to feel that she is “careless with the truth”!

Despite her outward toughness she has fallen for Lieutenant Danny Gilmartin and also, to a lesser extent, Wild Bill Hickock, a gambler.

Henry Miller is the owner of the Golden Garter Saloon and is anxiously awaiting actress Frances Fryer booked to perform that night. His anxiety increases when she does not arrive on the stage-coach. Due to a booking error a song and dance man Francis Fryer arrives instead, not what Miller’s red blooded customers would want. To dispel a riot Miller persuades Fryer to do a female impersonation. This is a disaster but Calamity saves the day (and Miller’s hide) by promising the angry audience she will go to Chicago and fetch Adelaide Adams, a famous start of vaudeville.

In Chicago, Calamity mistakes Adelaide Adams’ maid, Katie Brown, for the great star. Stage-struck Katie seizes the chance to break into show business by agreeing to perform at the Golden Garter. Her impersonation of Adelaide flops, but Calamity calms the audience and, given a second chance, Katie performs her own act and becomes the toast of Deadwood.

Katie and Calamity become good friends and Katie moves into Calamity’s cabin in the beautiful Black Hills of Dakota. Danny and Bill have fallen for Katie and visit the cabin to seek her favour. A ball at Fort Scully promotes an opportunity for the four of them to go as a foursome, with Calamity in a borrowed gown, revealing her feminine side and becoming the belle of the ball.

Danny finds himself alone with Katie, and declares his love for her. Katie although worried about Calamity, is overcome by passion and they fondly embrace and kiss. Calamity discovers them and flies into a rage, ordering Katie to get out of town.

Calamity sets back to her cabin to throw Katie’s belongings out, but on the trail with Wild Bill she discovers her “Secret Love” for him, and yes, you can guess, it all ends with wedding bells. But for how many weddings?

Song List


Act 1:

  • The Deadwood Stage (Calamity & Company)
  • Careless With The Truth (Calamity, Bill & Men)
  • Adelaide (Bill & Men)
  • Ev’ry one Complains About The Weather (Fryer)
  • Men (Calamity & Women)
  • Hive Full of Honey (Fryer)
  • I Can Do Without You (Calamity & Bill)
  • It’s Harry I’m Planning To Marry (Adelaide & Men)
  • It’s Harry I’m Planning To Marry (Reprise) (Katie)
  • Adelaide (Reprise) (Men)
  • Windy City (Calamity & Company)
  • Keep It Under Your Hat (Katie)
  • Keep It Under Your Hat (Reprise) (Katie & Company)
  • Careless With The Truth (Reprise) (Company)

Act 2:

  • A Woman’s Touch (Calamity & Katie)
  • Higher Than a Hawk (Bill)
  • The Black Hills of Dakota (Company)
  • Love You Dearly (Danny & Katie)
  • Men (Reprise) (Calamity & Bill)
  • Secret Love (Calamity)
  • Secret Love (Reprise) (Bill & Calamity)
  • Finale (Company)

What The Press Said

Hotshot is on Target

The success of this popular musical depends on the strength of the actress playing the part of the sharp shooting tomboy.

Karen Hartley takes on the responsiblity and meets all the character requirements domineering but in a pleasantly persuading way, tough but endearing.

Kevin Hirons has a rich singing voice as Wild Bill Hickock – his best number is Higher than a Hawk – and there is an amusing performance from J Paul Murdock as Francis Fryer. The show ends on Saturday.

Peter Swingler – The Evening News

Trip to the Windy City was a Whip Cracker

If you’re after a whip cracking night out this weekend, then look no further than Bromsgrove Operatic Society’s production of Calamity Jane, a sharp shootin, high ridin, rootin tootin belter of a show.

It is simple enough to list the ingredients of a good production – fine principals, good singers, a meaty supporting chorus, nice costumes and a gifted orchestra – but it is a difficult job to actually get them all. Fortunately Bromsgrove Operatic Society manages to do just that.

It seems unfair to single out certain actors since the whole company performed so well, however, mentions must be made of Karen Hartley’s Calamity, a mighty fine performance that strutted and swaggered across the stage with great confidence and managed to be both pistol packin (literally some very loud bangs rang round the hall)and sweet singing Wild Bill Hickock, Kevin Hirons proved a fitting sparring partner for Calamity and Sonia Bethal was a suitably sweet Katie Brown. And I simply have to mention J Paul Murdocks Francis Fryer a nerdy but nice masterpiece.

The chorus provided excellent support and the set pieces – Black Hills of Dakota, The Deadwood Stage and Windy City – were all present, correct and full of uplifting energy.

The only slight gripe concerns the use of microphones – the voices of all the singer seemed so strong they were hardly needed.

All in all this is a hell of a show that’ll have you hummin and yahooing all the way home.

Howard Walker – The Standard


Calamity Jane

A lively rip roaring production with lively principals and chorus. I was impressed by the orchestra who were in complete control of the situation. I was glad to hear that there is now some amplification at this venue. It is so much more enjoyable to be able to hear all the words and music. Kevin Hirons made the most handsome beliveable character of ‘Bill’ and Karen Hartley was an excellent ‘Calam’. One of my favourite performers on the amateur stage did his usual professional job and Francis Fryer – J Paul Murdock always gets every ounce of comedy from each role he plays. One of my favourites George Brooks gave his usual convincing portrayal of the part of Henry Miller. On the whole a most enjoyable relaxing production.

Noda News

1995 – The Gondoliers

The Gondoliers

by W.S.Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan.

Monday, 8th May to Saturday, 13th May, 1995
The Spadesbourne Suite, Burcot Lane, Bromsgrove.

Cast And Credits

  • Stage Director: Roberta Morrell
  • Co-director: Kenneth Sandford
  • Musical Director: Simon Holt
  • Marco Palmieri: J. Paul Murdock
  • Giusepppe Palmieri: Graham Smith
  • Gianetta: Sue Thomas
  • Tessa: Sue Bills
  • The Duke of Plaza-Toro: George Brooks
  • The Duchess of Plaza-Toro: Hilary Holland
  • Casilda: Gill Rowland
  • Luiz: James Allen
  • Don Alhambra Del Bolero: Ian G. Cox
  • Inez: Audrey Kanska
  • Antonio: David Pavely
  • Francesco: Arthur Bowkett
  • Giorgio: Peter Hensman
  • Annibale: Arthur Bowkett
  • Fiametta: Eileen Askew
  • Vittoria: Linda Dent
  • Giulia: Janet Harvey


Marco and Giuseppe Palmieri, the most popular gondoliers in Venice, have announced that they intend to marry two of the girls – the Contadine – who have gathered to meet them in the famous Plazzetta, in a corner of St Mark’s Square. That sounds a little presumptuous, but nobody seems to mind because all the Contadine are in love with them anyway. And just to show that it does not really matter who their brides are, Marco and Giuseppe allow themselves to be blindfolded and choose them in a game of blind man’s buff. Marco catches Giannetta, Giuseppe captures Tessa, and a double wedding is instantly planned.

They all go off to the ceremony, leaving no one to greet the Duke of Plaza-Toro, who has arrived in Venice with the Duchess and their daughter, Casilda, who was married to the future King of Barataria when she and her bridegroom were both small children. The boy was taken from Barataria to Venice which gives the Duke and his party two problems: Casilda is now in love with Luiz, her father’s personal drummer – and nobody knows who is the man who is supposed to be returning to Barataria to claim his kingdom and his crown.

The ground for the uncertainty was laid when the baby was taken to Venice and put in the care of a gondolier who has since died, to be brought up with his own son.

The Grand Inquisitor, Don Alhambra Del Bolero, breaks in on the four newly-weds with the news that one of the brothers is in fact to be the King. They decide that until they know which of them if Barataria’s missing monarch, they will rule jointly – but as they set off for the island kingdom they and their brides are understandably upset by Don Alhambra’s ruling that the girls cannot accompany them.

The two gondoliers are settling nicely to their life in their island kingdom, but are nevertheless missing their wives. So when Gianetta and Tessa arrive with all the contadine there is a distinct improvement in their morale. It is nevertheless something of a shock for Casilda, who also arrives: she and her parents and the Grand Inquisitor were expecting to meet her husband but what she has found are two possible husbands – both already married.

Which gondolier is the king – and which the accidental bigamist?

Fortunately, the puzzle is solved by Inez, mother of Luiz and former nurse to Marco and Giuseppe, whose intervention ensures a happy ending all round.

Song List

Act 1:

  • List and Learn, Ye Dainty Roses (Contadine, Gondoliers, Antonio, Marco & Giuseppe)
  • From the Sunny Spanish Shore (Duke, Duchess, Casilda & Luiz)
  • In Enterprise of Martial Kind (Duke & Chorus)
  • O Rapture (Casilda & Luiz)
  • There Was a Time (Casilda & Luiz)
  • I Stole the Prince (Don Alhambra, Duke, Duchess, Casilda & Luiz)
  • But, Bless my Heart (Casilda & Don Alhambra)
  • Try We Long Life (Duke, Duchess, Casilda, Luiz & Grand Inquisitor)
  • Bridegroom and Bride (Chorus)
  • When a Merry Maiden Marries (Tessa & Chorus)
  • Kind Sir, You Cannot Have the Heart (Gianetta)
  • Then One of Us Will Be Queen (Marco, Giuseppe, Gianetta & Tessa)

Act 2:

  • Of Happiness The Very Pith (Marco, Giuseppe & Chorus)
  • Rising Early in the Morning (Giuseppe & Chorus)
  • Take a Pair of Sparkling Eyes (Marco)
  • Here We Are at the Risk of our Lives (Fiametta, Vittoria, Gianetta & Chorus)
  • Dance a Cachucha (Chorus)
  • There Lived a King (Don Alhambra, Marco & Giuseppe)
  • In a Contemplative Fashion (Marco, Giuseppe, Gianetta & Tessa)
  • With Ducal Pomp (Duke, Duchess & Chorus)
  • On Day When When I Was Wedded (Duchess)
  • To Help Happy Commoners (Duke)
  • I am a Courtier (Duke, Duchess, Marco & Giuseppe)
  • Here is a Case Unprecedented (Marco, Giuseppe, Casilda, Tessa & Company)


What The Press Said

Stirring Performance boosted by truly polished direction

Mark my words. Bromsgrove Operatic Society Gondoliers are really riding on a crest of a wave.

This years Gilbert and Sullivan offering lived up to all it’s promises with direction from two former D’oyly Carte members Roberta Morrell and Kenneth Sandford giving it real polish.

Despite looking slightly uncomfortable in the opening scene on a cramped stage, the performers soon got into their stride to perform a musical feast. The strength of the central character ensured that the Gondoliers never strayed off course.

J Paul Murdock and Graham Smith formed an excellent double-act as Marco and Guiseppe, the venitian gondoliers who randomly pick two of their female admirers and marry them.

The contrast in their voices as well as their physiques made their performances even more enjoyable.

Able support was given by their brides, Tessa (Sue Bills) and Giannetta (Sue Thomas), the latter has to be heard to be believed!

The Duke of Plazo Toro’s party (led by George Brooks), arriving with news that one of the gondoliers is already married, added brilliantly to the plays overall comic effect.

Mention must also be made of Ian G Cox, who gave a wonderfully straight performance as the Grand Inquisitor who helps to bring a happy performance to a truly stirling show.

An effective set, dazzling costumes and rousing music really provided the icing on the cake.

Tim Hunt – The Standard

Such a Subtle Talent

Musical director Simon Holt leaves after Saturdays final performance of this superb production to take over the Bristol Cathedral Choir, it is doubtful if he will encounter more talented singers than these.

Graham Smith and J Paul Murdock as the gondoliers, Sue Thomas and Sue Bills (wives) and James Allen (Luiz) provide sparkling performances in a show full of vitality and comic subtlety.

George Brooks (Duke) must take credit for the most colourfully devloped character.

A pleasing aspect is the dominance of the lyrics allowing every line to be clearly heard.

Peter Swinger – Evening News

Appealing Work Given First Class Treatment

Bromsgrove Operatic Society has built up a reputation for lively and musically accomplished performances and Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Gondoliers was no exception.

The familiar melodies were projected with freshness and vigour while the acting showed polish. Chorus lines were delivered with clarity and brightness of tone and the strength of the mens chorus was impressive with numbers and ducal pomp.

J Paul Murdock and Graham Smith proved happy choices as Marco and Guiseppe respectively; Mr Murdock’s Take a Pair of Sparkling Eyes revealed his attractive and flexible voice at it’s best. Mr Smith’s ‘Rising Early in the Morning’ was a striking rendition with strong support from the chorus.

George Brooks as the Duke and Hilary Holland as the Duchess fully exploited the humour of their lines. Hilary Hollands ‘On The Day When I was Wedded’ was particularly notable while Mr Brooks’ “In Enterprise of Martial Kind” achieved first rate clarity of diction.

The Grand Inquisitor was giving a suitably robust and commanding interpretation by Ian Cox. Especially memorable was his attempt to dissuade the two Gondoliers from their egalitarian views in “Their Lived a King”.

Giannetta and Tessa were played by Sue Thomas and Sue Bills. Ms Thomas’ “Kind Sir you Cannot have a Heart” displayed the seemingly effortless skill of this talented singer. The quartet “In a Contemplative Fashion” is a demanding number which was given a fine performance.

James Allen as Luiz produced a pleasantly full sound which was used to impressive effect in “There was a Time”.

Musical Director Simon Holt ensured that effective instrumental support was given to the singers at Bromsgroves Spadesbourne Suite. A good balance was achieved throughout with sensitive playing.

This was certainly a production of which the Society can be proud, a performance worthy of this witty and appealing work.

Liz Le Grove – Bromsgrove Advertiser

The Gondoliers

This society goes from strength to strength, in the twelve years they have been in operation they have improved with each show I have seen. I was delighted to see how Sue Thomas has progressed and of course, one of my favourite performers, George Brooks was up to his usual standard as the Duke. I loved the two Gondoliers Paul Murdock and Graham Smith both experienced actors and singers and with a good supporting cast and a sympathetic orchestra – this was a first class production.

Noda News – Gladys Blacker

1994 – My Fair Lady

My Fair Lady

Book and Lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner.
Music by Fredrick Loewe.

Monday, 9th May to Saturday, 14th May, 1994
The Spadesbourne Suite, Burcot Lane, Bromsgrove.


A chance meeting outside Covent Garden between Colonel Pickering and Professor Higgins leads to an intriguing wager that Higgins could pass a common flower girl, Eliza Doolittle, as a Duchess at the embassy Ball. Eliza hearing this decides to engage Higgins to teach her to speak properly so that she can improve her station to the heights of a shop assistant. The challenge is too appealing for Higgins and Pickering, and so her education begins.

Her father, Alfred Doolittle, sees the opportunity to profit from his daughter’s strange liaison with these two gentlemen and visits Higgins’ house. His demands for five pounds compensation is met and Higgins is so impressed by Alfred’s natural rhetoric and streetwise philososhy he recommends him as a lecturer to an American philanthropist.

Eliza’s first outting as a lady is at Ascot where all goes well until the excitment of the race leads her to urge her horse on with embarrassing consequences.

The night of the embassy ball is full of apprehension for Eliza, Higgins and Pickering. Will Eliza behave, will the oily Zoltan Karpathy expose her? Eliza is a great success but Higgins and Pickering take all the credit. Eliza, upset, takes refuge with Mrs Higgins, Henry’s mother, who has become very fond of her, leaving Pickering and Higgins distraught at her going.

Alfred Doolittle is now a rich man and we see him regarding his forthcoming wedding with mixed feelings. His old cockney friends enjoy his pre-nuptial party and his discomfort.

Happily, as befits this bewitching and romantic story, Henry finds Eliza and despite the differences in their backgrounds they both realise how much they care for each other.

What The Press Said

Fair Play To Them All.

COR BLIMEY, guv’nor! What a blinding production and no mistake! Or rather, my word, what a positively spiffing show.

Bromsgrove Operatic Society overcame the odd first night technical gremlin and some unfortunately overlong scene changes to put on a corking production of this classic musical.

The rages to riches tale of the ‘ deliciously low ‘ Eliza Doolittle from the flower girl to society stunner was told in energetic and lively fashion with great performances from the principals and good ensemble playing and singing.

George Brooks as Henry Higgins was Rex Harrison incarnate, John Teece played a very natural and understated Colonel Pickering and Julie Keeley as Eliza was simply superb.

Add to this, costumes that brought appreciative “oohs” from the audience, some well-choreographed set pieces and a very good young orchestra and you have a production that deserves to pack’em in. Great fun.

Howard Walker, Bromsgrove Standard.

An Excellent Fair Lady

An apt way of describing the show – would be to replace the “fair” with “very good”. Regrettably the continuity of director Roberta Morrell’s production of Lerner and Loewe’s crowd pulling classic is dogged by delayed scene changes. The orchestra had to work extra hard during the “mini intervals”.

In between Julie Keeley as Eliza and George Brooks (Higgins) created a chemistry of rare intensity in a show where the cast have made most of their outfits. Brooks has style and the aristocratic manner needed for the part. Keeley makes the transition from the course cockney to sophisticated socialite in an amusing manner.

Peter Swingler, Evening Mail

1993 – Pirates Of Penzance

The Pirates Of Penzance

by W.S.Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan.

Song List

Act 1:

  • Pour, oh pour the pirate sherry (Pirates & Samuel)
  • When Fred’ric was a little lad (Ruth)
  • Oh, better far to live and die ( Pirate King & Pirates)
  • Oh! false one, you have deceived me (Ruth & Frederic)
  • Climbing over rocky mountain (Girls Chorus)
  • Stop, ladies pray! (Edith, Kate, Frederic & Chorus)
  • Oh! is there not one maiden breast (Frederic & Chorus)
  • Poor wand’ring one (Mabel & Chorus)
  • What ought we to do? gentle sisters, say! (Edith, Kate & Chorus)
  • How beautifully blue the sky (Mabel, Frederic & Chorus)
  • Stay, we must not lose our senses (Frederic & Chorus)
  • Hold, monsters! (Mabel, Major-General, Samuel & Chorus)
  • I am the very model of a modern Major-General (Major-General & chorus)
  • Finale – Oh! men of dark and dismal fate (Mabel, Edith, Kate, Frederic, Samuel, Pirate King, Major-General, Ruth & Chorus)

Act 2:

  • Oh! dry the glist’ning tear (Mabel & Chorus)
  • Now, Frederic, let your escort lion-hearted (Frederic & Major-General)
  • When the foeman bares his steel (Mabel, Edith, Sergeant & Chorus)
  • Now for the pirates’ lair (Frederic, Ruth & Pirate King)
  • When you had left our pirate fold (Frederic, Ruth & Pirate King)
  • Away, away, my heart’s on fire (Frederic, Ruth & Pirate King)
  • All is prepared! your gallant crew await you! (Mabel & Frederic)
  • Stay, Frederic, stay (Mabel & Frederic)
  • No, I’ll be brave! Oh, family descent (Mabel & Chorus)
  • When a felon’s not engaged in his employment (Sergeant & Chorus)
  • A rollicking band of pirates we (Sergeant, Police & Pirates)
  • With cat-like treat (Samuel & Pirates)
  • Hush! hush! not a word (Frederic, Pirate King, Major-General, Police & Pirates)
  • Sighing softly to the river and Finale (Major-General & Chorus)