Bringing their unique touch to comic opera, Matlock Gilbert and Sullivan Society is to celebrate their 25th anniversary with not one but two of the musical duo’s most popular creations.
The small and friendly society is well known for playful, irreverent adaptations, and this week’s performances in Bakewell promise to be no different!
First up is Trial by Jury, a one-act spoof of the English legal system directed by Nic Wilson. Get swept up in the tongue-in-cheek courtroom drama as bounder-and-cad Edwin is sued for breach of promise. The plaintiff? Ex-fiancée Angelina, recently ditched and out for revenge (still wearing her wedding dress like Miss Havisham in training and surrounded by disgruntled bridesmaids). Written in the mid-1870s, this witty dig at pompous judges, clueless lawyers and easily-led juries feels surprisingly fresh today. Silence in court!
After a short interval, get ready to wave your Union Jack as the company launches full-pelt into HMS Pinafore, directed by Angela Robinson. Gilbert and Sullivan’s much-loved, much-pastiched tale of the Royal Navy has the subtitle: The Lass who Loved a Sailor. This is a bit of a spoiler, as we soon discover that Ralph, a lowly able seaman, has designs well above his station...and that Josephine, the captain’s daughter, seems to be protesting a little too much. The star-crossed lovers are surrounded by a bevy of comic characters, including The Right Honourable Sir Joseph Porter, First Lord of the Admiralty – who performs the inevitable patter song without breaking a sweat – his many sisters, cousins and aunts, the Captain himself, a trio of characterful sailors... and who could forget dear little Buttercup? As the plot steams along towards the big reveal, we find out all is not as it seems, except of course that it’s great to be an Englishman, and that some people probably shouldn’t take their privilege for granted.
Both productions are conducted by Melanie Gilbert, leading a small but perfectly-formed band to bring the musical score to life. Melanie has been the society’s musical director ever since a group of like-minded friends and acquaintances got together in 1992 and decided to put on a show. So it’s great to see that they’re still going strong – and from strength to strength – 25 years later. After all, how often do you get to enjoy an evening of music, laughter, melodrama and fun that’s suitable for all ages? What, never? Hardly ever!
Trial by Jury and HMS Pinafore are running from June 8 to 10 at the Medway Centre in Bakewell, at 7:30pm
Tickets are priced £12 from Nic Wilson (01629 812276) or the Medway Centre (01629 813638)