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Wakefield Gilbert & Sullivan Society

2011 – The Sorcerer

2011 Sorcerer Poster

Cast

Sir Marmaduke Pointdextre
Gordon Fawcett
Alexis
Paul Richmond
Dr. Daly
David Parker
The Notary
Martin Whitaker
John Wellington Wells
Bobbie Greatorex
Lady Sangazure
Jane Fawcett
Aline
Elaine Richmond
Mrs Partlet
Valerie Green
Constance
Elizabeth Blount
Hercules
Ian Downes

Chorus of Villagers and Servants

Helen Bolton, Peter Bolton, Nadine Briggs, Richard Briggs, Tim Butler, John Carter, Margaret Charlesworth, Gill Cunliffe, Clive Daniel, Amy Downes, Jenny Grove, Pauline Hepkin, Tony Johnson, Lynda Lancaster, Andy Laverick, Ernie Lowe, Kath Lowe, Mary-Jane Mullins, Barbara Nash, Catherine Nuttall, Paul Ruddlesdin, Catherine Ruddlesdin, Daniel Senior, Jay Whittam, Jennifer Whittam, Liz Zserdicky

Production Team

Artistic Director
Graham Weston
Musical Director
James Newby
Accompanist
Norman Walker
Stage Crew
The Sorcerer’s Apprentices
Scenery Savoyards Appreciation Society (West Yorkshire)
Costumes and Props.
Leach Crockery Hire – Horbury, Tadcaster Theatre Company, Mary Mills, Wakefield G and S
Wardrobe
Bobbie Greatorex, Mary-Jane Mullins, Helen Bolton
Props.
Jenny Grove, Stuart Grove
Artwork
Ian Downes
Programme Editor
Ian Downes
Dignitaries Hosts
Mark Briggs

Feedback

“I had a wonderful evening and the show was an absolute joy to watch”

Extract from a letter from Mary Creagh, MP

“This is just a brief note following our attendance at The Sorcerer yesterday – an excellent show which deserved a better audience. Vocally the show was outstanding with great principals and chorus and the overall production was in the very best traditions of Gilbert and Sullivan. I was also impressed with both set and costumes, they both very much added to the production.

Thank you also for the very kind hospitality extended to us in the interval – it was very much appreciated.

I do hope the remaining shows are as well received as last night’s. Please pass on my congratulations to everyone involved in the production whether on stage, crew or FOH.”

Chris Ingram
Councillor, North East
National Operatic and Dramatic Association

Review by NODA representative, Noel Rigg:

“THE SORCERER is not one of the most widely produced G & S operas but it does have a rather comical and humorous plot with most ironic situations created and the strong cast of very seasoned G & S principals did the plot full justice. All the chorus and principals sung and acted with great convictions. Outstanding of these was the contribution of Elaine Richmond (Aline) and Paul Richmond (Alexis) two very fine voices and we also got a superb performance from Bobbie Greatorex as John Wellington Wells. All the cast members were of excellent quality. The good set and excellent costumes along with a fine contribution from the orchestra did much to enhance this production.”

This review by Chris Cooper (founder member of Taunton Association of Performing Arts) was submitted to the local paper:

“A teapot that packs a lethal punch features alongside a strong cast in Wakefield Gilbert and Sullivan Society’s production of The Sorcerer which runs at the Theatre Royal, Wakefield this week, ending with matinee and evening performances on Saturday. From a fine opening chorus and a symbolically quivering jelly to the rousing finale, the show was delivered with vigour and fine choral singing by a lively chorus and a talented team of soloists.

Elizabeth Blount delightfully captured the innocent simplicity of the love-struck Constance Partlet while Paul and Elaine Richmond’s clear and powerful singing combined perfectly as lovers Alexis and Aline. Jane Fawcett’s rich and expressive voice ideally suited the part of the aristocratic Lady Sangazure and Bobbie Greatorex’s performance was of the usual high calibre but perhaps his affability prevented the frighteningly unreal character of sorcerer John Wellington Wells from being fully realised.

Martin Whitaker’s fine voice was put to good use as The Notary and the part of the Vicar of Ploverleigh, Doctor Daly, was portrayed to perfection by David Parker, even though he is clearly no flageolet player! Pew-Opener Mrs Partlet, played by Valerie Green, and Gordon Fawcett as the elderly Baronet, Sir Marmaduke Pointdexter, completed the talented line-up.

An excellent chorus sang beautifully and danced with great conviction, especially in “Oh Marvellous Illusion” which made a grand conclusion to act one. This was a first-class production realised by Artistic Director Graham Weston and Musical Director James Newby and his orchestra. Add in exciting lighting effects and dramatic pyrotechnics and you have a perfect evening’s entertainment. Don’t blink or you’ll miss the Sorcerer’s dramatic departure to the underworld, and watch out for that lethal teapot!”

Prizewinning Programme

The programme for The Sorcerer was awarded the Runner Up prize in the NODA North East Region Programme Competition 2011 (standard Programme Class).

Award for our programme

Production Photos

Background

What’s it all about? The plot of The Sorcerer hinges on the idea that love levels all ranks. It is set in the class-defined social structure of the Victorian era. The recent success of TV programmes such as Upstairs Downstairs, and Downton Abbey suggests that these distinctions are still fascinating to audiences today.

The comedy springs from taking this idea to extremes, and by the introduction of a powerful love potion brewed by the family sorcerer. The love philtre is smuggled into the tea, and soon every unmarried person falls under its spell, leading to a whole string of unsuitable and unplanned consequences; quintessential Gilbert Topsy-Turvy-ism!

Another seam of comedy is Gilbert’s deliberate satire of classical opera. The prevalence of love potions in opera was an easy target for Gilbert (think of Donizetti’s The Elixir of Love). The famous Drinking Song from Verdi’s Traviata is another obvious reference. It is parodied by The Tea-Cup Song in The Sorcerer, also poking fun at the Temperance Movement.

As well as a witty plot, the opera also has a glorious score. Sullivan’s music for The Sorcerer was described by one early review as “always tuneful, bright, and sparkling, and frequently reaching a very high standard of excellence”. The show was a success when it first opened, and is still a favourite of many performers.

Synopsis

Act One

Ploverleigh yokels

Constance Partlet

The villagers of Ploverleigh are preparing to celebrate the betrothal of Alexis Pointdextre, the son of the local baronet, and the blue-blooded Aline Sangazure. A young village maiden named Constance Partlet seems the only one unwilling to join in the happy mood. She tells her mother that she is secretly in love with the local vicar, Dr. Daly, who soliloquises that he has also been unlucky in love. Despite Mrs Partlet’s best attempts at matchmaking, the middle-aged Dr. Daly seems unable to conceive that a young girl like Constance would be interested in him.

Dr Daly

Alexis and Aline

Alexis and Aline arrive, feted by the villagers. It soon becomes clear that Alexis’s widower father, Sir Marmaduke, and Aline’s widowed mother, Lady Sangazure, are concealing long-held feelings for one another, which propriety demands remain hidden.

John Wellington Wells, the Sorcerer

The betrothal ceremony is carried out by the elderly notary. Once they are alone, Alexis reveals to Aline his belief that love should level all ranks and that he has invited a representative from a respectable London firm of sorcerers to Ploverleigh. Aline has misgivings about hiring a real sorcerer but Alexis instructs John Wellington Wells, the sorcerer, to prepare enough of his famous love potion to affect the entire village. Mr Wells mixes the potion in the teapot, assisted by fearsome magical beings and an incantation.

The village gathers for the wedding feast and Dr. Daly brews the tea, unaware of the potion. All the villagers except Alexis, Aline and Mr Wells drink it and, after experiencing intoxication and hallucinations, they fall unconscious.

Act Two

At midnight that night, the villagers awake and under the influence of the potion, each falls in love with the first person of the opposite sex that they see, even if it is an unsuitable match.

Mrs Partlet

Sir Marmaduke and Lady Sangazure

Alexis is pleased with the results and now suggests that he and Aline should drink the potion themselves to seal their own love. Aline is hurt by his lack of trust in her love and refuses, offending him. Alexis is distracted by his upper-class father having fallen in love with the lower-class Mrs Partlet, but he tries to make the best of this union.

Mr Wells meanwhile, is regretting the results that his magic has caused, and regrets them still more when the fearsome Lady Sangazure fixes on him as the object of her affections.

Aline decides to yield to Alexis’ persuasion and drinks the potion without telling Alexis. Upon awaking, she inadvertently meets Dr. Daly first and falls in love with him. Alexis is distraught and desperately appeals to Mr Wells asking how the effects of the spell can be reversed. This requires that either Alexis or Mr Wells must die. The people of Ploverleigh rally against the outsider from London and Mr Wells resignedly bids farewell and is swallowed up by the underworld. The spell is broken. The villagers pair off according to their true feelings and then everyone celebrates with another feast!

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