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Previous Show – Utopia Ltd.

Gilbert & Sullivan’s ‘Utopia Ltd.’ Wed 8th March – Sat 11th March 2017

Production Team

  • Director/Producer – Steve Skinner
  • Musical Director – Tom Porter
  • Assistant Musical Director – Katie Leaver
  • Rehearsal Pianist – Carol Griffiths

The Cast

  • HM the Queen of Utopia – Carole Massey
  • Lady Sophy – Eleanor Peberdy
  • Princess Zara – Jo Hargreaves
  • Princess Nekaya –Sophie Hill
  • Princess Kalyba – Cara Brimmell
  • Prince Paramount / Tarara – Stewart Vick
  • Scaphio – Richard Needham
  • Phantis – Keith Williams
  • Captain Fitzbattleaxe –Michael Ferris
  • Captain Corcoran – Michael Hawkins
  • Lord Dramaleigh – Iain Waddell
  • Mr Goldbury – John Alderson
  • Dame Bailey Barre – Jean Chalk
  • Calynx – Ben Hart
  • Phylla –Roz Chalk

Synopsis

The ruler of an idyllic but backward South Seas island kingdom decides that Utopia needs modernising, ideally along British lines. However, the reforms go way overboard when, amongst other things, it is decreed that the kingdom and each of its inhabitants should become a limited company based on the English “Companies Act of 1862”.

Princess Zara, brings six “Flowers of Progress” back from England to educate the Utopian people in English institutions and customs. But the reforms prove far too successful, which upsets Scaphio and Phantis, Judges of the Utopian Supreme Court, and the entire Utopian populace, who threaten revolt.

Zara realises that an essential element must have been forgotten. Once that is introduced the result is “general and unexampled prosperity” – the required happy ending.

Reviews

Utopia Ltd, Astwood Bank Operatic Society, Palace Theatre, Redditch, 8 March 2017

A RATHER zany production bearing all the hallmarks of a classic Gilbert & Sullivan creation, Utopia Ltd was towards the last of the pair’s collaborations, and is certainly one of their least well known.

The scene is all set on a paradise island where languor describes the pace of life. Snakes in the grass, Scaphio, played by Keith Williams and Phantis (Richard Needham), both relished in their roles as the wily old wise men who control all the Queen’s actions, while Stewart Vick enjoyed two contrasting roles as Prince Paramount and Tarara, the strangely named Public Exploder, ever ready to blow up the Queen in order to ascend the throne himself..

The elderly Monarch (played very regally and convincingly by Carole Massey) admired all things English which led her to introduce Lady Sophy, a rather straight-laced English lady, played by a sure and confident Ellie Peberdy, as governess to her younger daughters, Nekaya and Kalba. In terms of their enthusiasm, exuberance and singing capacity, Sophie Hill and Cara Brimmell rather stole the show with their excellently cast pairing.

Princess Zara, the Queen’s eldest daughter and assertively played by Jo Hargreaves, has been educated in England and returns home, bringing with her Captain Fitzbattleaxe, with whom she is in love, and five other Flowers of Progress – who epitomise all the qualities which have helped to make England a powerful, happy and blameless country!

This is what makes the classic G&S of course – their ability to take the proverbial mickey out of the English establishment, while weaving the story around a number of whimsical (if sometimes rather lengthy) musical ditties, all so pleasant on the ear. There is rather a large cast to this show, but standout among the Flowers of Progress was Melanie Hart as the somewhat wacky County Councillor Bunty Blushington.

All starts to go a bit pear-shaped when everybody has to become a limited company (yes, honest), but all turns out for the best – of course.

Utopia Ltd allows the costume designers to go mad with colour, while the orchestra is paramount in a production such as this; however under the competent leadership of musical director Tom Porter, there were never any worries on that score.

The modernisation of the show, complete with up-to-date references and competently produced by Steve Skinner, was to be applauded and made for a highly enjoyable evening as usual.

Andrew Powell

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How to Buy your Ticket

Ticket Information

Jean Chalk
123 Bromsgrove Road
Redditch
B97 4RL

Tel: 01527 63319
Email: tickets@astwoodbankoperatic.co.uk

Ticket Prices

A Nice Dilemma – 21st and 22nd July

£10 (Children under 12 free)

Carousel – 14th – 18th March 2018 at the Palace Theatre Redditch

Thursday, Friday & Saturday evening £16.
Concessions £15.
Wednesday evening & Saturday matinee £15.
Children under 16 1/2 price.

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Next Show – Carousel (March 2018)

Astwood Bank Operatic Society are pleased to announce our forthcoming show for 2018 will be Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel!

14th – 18th March 2018 at the Palace Theatre Redditch

Production Team

  • Producer/Director – Carole Massey
  • Assistant Producer/Director – Beverley Hatton
  • Musical Director – Kevin Dowson
  • Synopsis

    In a Maine coastal village toward the end of the 19th century, the swaggering, carefree carnival barker, Billy Bigelow, captivates and marries the naïve millworker, Julie Jordan. Billy loses his job just as he learns that Julie is pregnant and, desperately intent upon providing a decent life for his family, he is coerced into being an accomplice to a robbery. Caught in the act and facing the certainty of prison, he takes his own life and is sent ‘up there.’ Billy is allowed to return to earth for one day fifteen years later, and he encounters the daughter he never knew. She is a lonely, friendless teenager, her father’s reputation as a thief and bully having haunted her throughout her young life. How Billy instils in both the child and her mother a sense of hope and dignity is a dramatic testimony to the power of love. It’s easy to understand why, of all the shows they created, CAROUSEL was Rodgers & Hammerstein’s personal favourite.

    Key Dates

    • First Rehesral – 4th September at 7:30pm
    • Principal Auditon Workshop – Wednesday 13th September
    • Principal Auditions – Sunday 24th September
    • Childrens Auditions – Sunday 1st October
    • All events listed above will be at the the Church Hall of St George & St Matthias, Church Rd. Astwood Bank unless otherwise specified on our Facebook page.

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Welcome to Astwood Bank Operatic Society

We are an Amateur Operatic Society, specialising in Gilbert and Sullivan and Victorian/Edwardian Light Opera/Operetta, as well as making an occasional foray into Musical Comedy.

Eleanor Peberdy and Michael Faulkner in our 2014 production of 'The Merry Widow'.
Eleanor Peberdy and Michael Faulkner in our 2014 production of ‘The Merry Widow’.

The aim of our Society is to provide a social outlet for all ages, at the same time providing an opportunity for our members to participate or perform to the best of their abilities. This culminates in an annual production at the Redditch Palace Theatre, usually in March each year.

Although we are an amateur society, we endeavour to put on a professional quality production, and from our members we expect commitment, team work and enthusiasm.

We are very involved with the local community, and we hope all our members will participate in our fund-raising events.

Socially, we have walks on some Mondays during the summer, but those that are not that energetic can just meet us in the pub afterwards! We have an annual dinner, usually in January, and wonderful after-show events!

If you would like more information about joining ABOS, please contact our Secretary who will be pleased to help you with your questions.

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