DATE 10th March 2017
SOCIETY Rochdale Phoenix Operatic Society
VENUE Curtain Theatre, Rochdale
DIRECTOR Peter Shellard


Author: Sharon Drummond

I am always in awe of the artwork produced on this Societies sets which were again absolutely beautiful. Marian Fuller is the Set Artist and the house entrance and surrounding area fitted the scenes really well. This Operetta had a static set so the scenes were never held up between changes. This is the first time I have seen this Gilbert & Sullivan production and enjoyed the frivolity of the story.

There were nice props and gorgeous costumes which suited the characters well. The sound and lighting complimented the production.

The Orchestra to stage left sounded fabulous and the harmonies from the whole company were lovely. Jon Gibson had worked them hard and this paid off as there were some wonderful harmonies and solos. The chorus worked hard on movement and vocals which sounded fabulous on the company numbers and it was clear they all enjoy performing.

Peter Shellard’s direction was seam free and there were no hold ups in this show.  He used people well and blocked the scenes expertly. He was also wonderful as Reginald Bunthorne with clear diction, great comic timing and super vocals on his numbers which delivered with expertise. Andy Exley was his perfect foil and created comedy whenever he was on stage. His vocals were great and again with lovely clear diction which is so important in G&S.

Lawrence Shoebridge, David Bradshaw and Steven Miller were great in their roles (Lieut. The Duke of Dunstable, Major Murgatroyd and Colonel Calverley respectively) and their differences in tone of voice made their numbers really interesting with lovely harmonies.

The four Rapturous Maidens despite being older than the parts require all put in sterling performances. Alyson Brailsford sounded lovely on her numbers and acted well to round the performance. Margaret Kelly and Pat Anderson as Lady Saphir and Ella respectively performed well and sang beautifully. The comedy role was that

of Lady Jane played expertly by Greta Shellard. With lovely vocals and fantastic comedy timing Greta was never out of character even when in the background and has such stage presence on stage.

Patience was well played by Jane Hyde who had stunning vocals on some lovely numbers but needed quite a lot of prompting on lines especially in the second Act which rather slowed the action and dialogue down. However, Jane’s vocal ability is simply beautiful and her delivery of numbers was a pleasure to listen to.

The evening was a lovely piece of frivolous theatre and played to a nearly full appreciative audience.