Archive for November, 2011



Hello everyone

The year hastens on apace, and for the Society it has generally been a good year. But we can’t dwell in the past, no matter how pleasant that past may be. The Society Social and FIDDLER reunion held on 22 October was reasonably well attended and we were able to celebrate FIDDLER’S success and relive some special moments as we looked back and watched excerpts from the DVD. But now, as the excitement of FIDDLER
fades to a satisfying memory, it’s time to look forward to new things. Auditions for Yeomen have been held
and there are some difficult decisions to be made. As soon as the cast has been settled, we’ll let you know.

There is one final look back to FIDDLER, though – the Production Account meeting (known as the Teardown
Meeting). This will be held at the Pinelands Club on Tuesday 13th December at 19.30. You will receive
formal notice of this meeting very shortly.


It’s confirmed that Teddy Davies will again direct, in tandem with Alastair Cockburn as musical director. And it seems there is an excellent chance that the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra will again be available to
accompany our singers. It is intended that this will be a “classic” production, which, after its June run at the Artscape Theatre – probably for about 10 performances – will hopefully be taken to the Buxton Festival in the UK in August next year.

Some background
The Yeomen of the Guard premiered at the Savoy Theatre in London on 3 October 1888. It was the 11th
Gilbert and Sullivan collaboration and ran for 423 performances. Prior to this, all the G&S operas had been light comical pieces, often hinging on some unlikely contrivance such as a magic potion or babies mixed up at birth, or involving fantastical fairies or ghosts. Sullivan, though enjoying the recognition (and money) that came his way as a result of his work with Gilbert, wanted to write grand opera. He was becoming disenchanted with Gilbert’s frivolous themes as they didn’t allow him the opportunity to write more serious music. Gilbert tried to meet Sullivan half way and came up with a more serious story set in the Tower of London in the 16th century. Sullivan liked it and wrote in his diary “Pretty story, no topsy turvydom, very human, and funny also.” Sullivan used this opportunity to write his most ambitious score to date. Yeomen differs from all the other G&S operas in that its tone is darker, the music is on a ‘grander’ scale, no British institution is satirised, it has a bittersweet ending, and, alone among all the operas, the opening scene does not involve the chorus, but a single figure seated at a spinning wheel.

Greetings from the UK
Sue Sims-Handcock sends greetings – and a photo of herself (front, centre) in the Australian production of Yeomen performed at this year’s Buxton festival. She says the singing was of a high standard, but the costumes left something to be desired. She hopes our yeomen will grow beards as the false ones looked awful! She and Stafford have joined the Godalming Operatic Society who propose to take Gondoliers to Buxton next year. So they hope to see us there.

Simon Butteriss is probably today’s foremost exponent of the G&S “patter” roles. He has devised and presents a 5 part series on ‘the phenomenon of Gilbert and Sullivan’. In it he explores the life, lyrics and music of the gifted pair and looks at the way they have influenced subsequent practitioners worldwide.
The series is available in a 2 DVD set at R350 from Peter Kramer. Order from him on 021-5320551, or dynamite@sybaweb.co.za Unfortunately, they won’t be here in time for Christmas.

We usually close each year with some kind of ‘bash’ on 16 December. This year we are going to repeat what
we did a couple of years ago, and go along to support a fellow Amdram society in their Christmas offering.
Pinelands Players are presenting HONK! (the Ugly Duckling musical) at the Little Theatre from 9-17
December. The show is directed by Kyla Thorburn and features a number of folk well known to us in G&S.
We have arranged to make block bookings at the matinee and the evening shows on the 16th, and we will gather at the theatre for a social between the shows.

Details as follows: If you wish to attend the matinee, it starts at 14.30 and the cost is R80 per ticket. The evening show starts at 19.30 and tickets cost R100 each. Our function will be held in a private room at the theatre and will begin soon after the end of the matinee. We hope those who attend both shows (plus some of the HONK! cast) will join us for snacks and drinks (cash bar) from around 18.00.

If you’re coming you need to do two things:
1. Pay for your tickets.
2. For catering purposes, advise either Guilma on 084 5891812, or Audrey at arobin@dkvg.co.za Any HONK
cast members who will join us, please also advise for catering purposes.
And you need to do this before 9th December!
(If you’ve already booked for another day and want to change your tickets so that you can join us, please
contact Tina Gough direct (072-9231035) and, as a favour to G&S, she will change your booking.)

From 29 November to 10 December, Hottentot Holland Dramatic Society presents Are you being Served at
the Playhouse in Somerset West. Based on the popular BBC comedy. Book
at Computicket.

Milnerton Players present FORBIDDEN BROADWAY’S GREATEST HITS at the Milnerton Playhouse from 25 November to 10 December. It’s described as an hilarious, irreverent spoof of Broadway musicals and personalities.
Bookings at http://www.milnertonplayers.com or 082-2671061

Constantiaberg Theatre Players extend an invitation to all societies to attend their year-end member’s evening on Wednesday, 7 December. It’s in the form of a “Weakest Link” quiz evening starting at 19.30, at the Bergvliet Guide Hall. Contact Wesley at wes@mseed.co.za for more info.

Since our last newsletter, we have learnt that Bronwyne Scott’s father passed away unexpectedly. Our loving sympathy to you Bron.

We also heard with sadness of the death of Tony Stiglingh who has appeared in several of our productions
over the years. Our sympathies to his family.

And that’s it from GASLIGHT for this year. Warm seasonal greetings to you all from Exco. And to those celebrating Christmas, be blessed.

Till next year

Read Full Post »

The Merryman and his Maid

The Cape Town Gilbert and Sullivan Society who brought you the outstanding and lavish productions of My Fair Lady, H.M.S. Pinafore – The Musical, Annie and most recently the highly acclaimed production of Fiddler on the Roof, will stage Gilbert and Sullivan’s classic tragic-comedy The Yeomen of the Guard at the Artscape Theatre in June 2012. Thereafter, it is intended that the production will transfer to the International Gilbert and Sullivan Festival in Buxton, UK during August 2012. Yeomen is the nearest that Gilbert and Sullivan got to achieving something close to “real” opera. It is a wonderful work with stunning chorus work and beautiful solos and ensembles, all accompanied by full symphony orchestra, and the story- line is believable and dramatic with underlying typical Gilbertian comedy mingled with tragedy on this occasion. Gilbert said that he regarded it as ‘…the best thing we have done’ and Sullivan declared that it was his favourite of all their joint works.

Director Teddy Davies and musical director Alastair Cockburn who have collaborated in bringing so many wonderfully successful Savoy Operas to Cape Town audiences in the past are once again teamed up. The CPO will again play for this production.

Generally, several of the lead principal cast require trained “operatic” voices and good singers are needed for the splendid four-part harmony chorus work. Please go to the Society website http://www.gilbertandsullivan.co.za for full particulars. (If for some reason the information does not appear on the Home Page – click on Productions – then click on the 2012 window)

The principals are required to sing a number from the score (on website) pertaining to the particular character for which they wish to audition and the chorus may sing a piece of their own choice, generally and preferably in “classical” style. Several chorus numbers from “Fiddler on the Roof” for example would suffice, but pop songs in an American accent should be avoided. You may download and complete the Audition Form and bring it with you, or you may complete one at the audition venue. All the above may be found on the website.

All those auditioning must be available to perform in Buxton, UK in the beautiful Victorian Opera House on Thursday 16 August (was Monday 13). The plans are currently intended for the G&S Society to subsidise participants by paying half the travel costs and the full accommodation costs in Buxton. Special consideration will be given to Society members who wish to perform in the production but are unable to commit themselves to Buxton.

Auditions will be held at the Artscape Theatre Complex, Rehearsal Room 301 (entrance via the stage door) in November on the following days: Chorus: Saturday 19 and Principals: Sunday 20 both from 10.00am. Recalls will be as follow: Chorus: Saturday 26 and Principals: Sunday 27 both from 2.00pm. You are kindly requested to email yeomen.auditions@gmail.com giving your name and contact number to book an audition time.


The Yeomen of the Guard
(Set in the Tower of London in the 15th Century)

Vocal Ranges and Vocal Descriptions of the Principals

Elsie Maynard : (A Strolling Singer/Minstrel girl.) A lyrical, young, bright soprano. Must have excellent diction and attention to detail whilst able to create a beautiful line. (Top B-flat required)

Kate: (Dame Carruthers’ niece.) A cameo soprano role. Must have a musical ear and excellent ensemble singing ability. Also sings with the chorus sopranos. (Top G required)

Phoebe Meryll : (Sergeant Meryll’s daughter.) A very light, easy and young mezzo. Higher notes (top C to F) must come relatively easily but must also be strong and resonant all the way through the lower range of the voice. Could be a soprano with a strong lower register. (Bottom A-flat below middle-C required)

Dame Carruthers : (Housekeeper to the Tower of London.) A mature, rich, resonant contralto or mezzo. Good strong low notes with real power in the higher register. (Range from G below middle-C to top F)

Colonel Fairfax : (Prisoner in the Tower – under sentence of death.) A strong, secure and clear tenor. Must have a strong presence in the higher register (top A-flat required), but not too overpowering or ‘heavy’ – this tenor must be able to navigate in the head voice with ease and delicacy.

Leonard Meryll : (Son of Sergeant Meryll.) A light tenor who is very at ease with the top notes (top A-Flat required) and excellent ensemble singing ability.

1st and 2nd Yeomen: Two of the chorus Yeomen who have solo lines, one is a high baritone (or tenor) and the other a bass-baritone.

Jack Point: (A Strolling Jester and friend of Elsie Maynard.) A comic light baritone with a good solid range. Light and easy at the top, rich and resonant at the bottom. Must have impeccable diction and an easy, light, but very secure voice. (Range from A below middle-C to top F)

Wilfred Shadbolt : (Head Jailor and Assistant Tormentor – Torturer – in the Tower of London.) Solid baritone with a bit of weight to it. Not too ‘heavy’ especially as the voice ascends into his upper register. (Range from A below middle-C to top E)

Sir Richard Cholmondeley : (Lieutenant of the Tower of London.) A nice rich, pleasant bass-baritone voice but still is relatively flexible and not too ‘heavy’. Good ensemble singing required. (Range same as Wilfred Shadbolt – see above)

Sergeant Meryll : (Sergeant of the Yeomen of the Guard of the Tower of London.) Bass-baritone or bass. Very secure rhythmically. Must have depth and richness to the voice and sound very weighty and mature. (Range from low G to top E-flat)

1st and 2nd Citizens: Two members of the male citizen chorus with solo spoken lines.

1 Male and 1 Female Strolling Players: These are two youngish dancers and also members of the Citizens Chorus.

Chorus of Yeomen: The Yeomen comprise mature men divided up into 1st and 2nd tenors and 1st and 2nd basses for their male-voice choruses. Otherwise they join the full chorus of citizens, singing tenor and bass. The Yeomen need to have good choral voices and the ability to sing ensemble (male-voice choir) well.

Chorus of Citizens: The large chorus of Londoners generally has stunning music to sing – the best choral music in the entire G & S repertoire. The chorus comprises ladies and men (sopranos, altos, tenors and basses) of all ages, shapes and sizes and offers the opportunity of creating wonderful individual characters from sophisticated ladies and men to street urchin type youngsters.

Read Full Post »



The hilarious British sex farce


by Ray Cooney and John Chapman

directed by Wesley Figaji

WHEN: Sunday, 18 December 2011, at 2:30pm.

WHERE: The Guide Hall, Glen Alpine Way, Bergvliet.

DIRECTIONS: From Ladies Mile Road, turn into Children’s Way (at traffic lights near the main road), then immediately right into Glen Alpine Way. Follow the road until you see a parking lot on your left. The Guide Hall is opposite the parking lot.

RUN: At the Masque Theatre, Muizenberg, from 4 to 12 May 2012.

REHEARSALS: From February 2012 – possibly Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays.

CONTACT: Wesley Figaji on 073 286 9871 or email wes@mseed.co.za


Philip Markham is a straight-laced publisher of children’s books. He and his wife Joanna have planned to go out for the evening. Philip has reluctantly agreed to allow his partner, Henry Lodge, to use his empty apartment for an illicit ‘rendezvous’ with a certain Miss Wilkinson. Meanwhile, Henry’s wife, Linda Lodge, has made a similar arrangement with Philipâ’s wife. Linda is planning a ‘meeting’ with a Walter Pangbourne. Same venue. Still with me?

Add to this already improbable scene the very camp and arty Alastair Spenlow, who is redesigning the Markham’s apartment. He is the third person planning to use the same apartment at the same time for a secret assignation with the beautiful Swiss maid, Sylvie Hauser. Keep up now.

Furthermore, a misplaced letter leads Philip to believing that his innocent wife is having an affair, and his suspicions and jealousy are immediately aroused. Confusion, mayhem and sexual innuendo abound, and into this madness enters Olive Harriet Smythe, an eccentric and very successful children’s book author, looking for a new publisher. She has come to Philip’s firm because she hears they ‘don’t go in for sex’, unlike her previous publisher. See where we’re going with this?

Philip and Henry can’t afford to lose this profitable new client and, to rescue the situation, everyone is forced to assume someone else’s identity and to desperately hide any hint of sexual impropriety. Oh, good grief.


Ages are approximate. Comedy timing is essential.


Age 30s / 40s. Large role. English accent.

Sophisticated and attractive. Married to Philip Markham.


Age 30s / 40s. Large role. English accent.

Vivacious, but slightly scatter-brained. Married to Henry Lodge.


Age 20s. Medium role. Swiss accent.

A gorgeous Swiss maid. She appears in a short nightie at one stage.


Age 20s. Medium role. English accent.

Very pretty, kooky, with large horn-rimmed glasses. Quick to strip down to her underwear, and then runs around wrapped only in a sheet.


Age 60 +. Medium role. English accent.

A very successful author of children’s books. An eccentric, dog-loving, imposing, no-sex-please lady with a somewhat butterfly mind.


Age 30s / 40s. Large role. English accent.

A pleasant, studious man with a worried air which comes from years of being on the losing side of life. Married to Joanna.


Age 30s / 40s. Large role. English accent.

Successful, rakish, full of masculine confidence, a ‘man’s man’ as well as a ladies’ man.


Age 20s / 30s. Large role. English accent.

London’s latest fashionable interior designer. A virile male lurks beneath his arty, camp exterior. Removes his trousers and stands in his colourful underpants at one stage.


Age 40’s. Small role. English accent.

A stiff, slightly vacuous businessman. Wears a bowler hat.

Read Full Post »