Mike Pendlowski attended our Saturday matinée and reported on behalf of NODA:
Dunfermline G&S Society take to the stage, in person, once again – the first time since HMS Pinafore in February 2020. This time, they are presenting a performance, in concert style, of Princess Ida, sadly not one of the more frequently performed G&S operas, albeit with wonderful melodies and the usual Gilbertian topsy-turveydom of a plot. In fact to quote a gentleman sitting behind me in the audience, having read the very complete synopsis in the programme, “The story’s bloody complicated, isn’t it!”
First up, we meet the pompous King Hildebrand, played with suitable swagger by Martin Tarr, ably joined by his son and friends, namely Hilarion (Alex Gunn), Cyril (Nathan MacAuley-Dicks) and Florian (Matthew Sielewicz-Stanhope). Hilarion, progressing his father’s lead in to the plot, gives a very competent rendition of “Ida was a twelve month old” – just to further augment the convoluted nature of that which we are about to experience. We are joined by the menacing King Gama (Gordon Horne), Princess Ida’s father, together with his three sons Arac (Zorbey Turkalp), Guron (Andrew Campbell) and Scynthius (Paul Graham). The latter three boisterous buffoons excel, particularly in the Act Three stripping song, in which several pieces of armour in turn are “gently” removed by members of the ladies chorus.
Act Two brings us in to Castle Adamant, the ladies’ university itself. Suzanne Horsburgh portrays Lady Psyche, Professor of Humanities, as a person with whom you would be foolish to argue. This thought, however, has not reached Lady Blanche, Professor of Abstract Science (Liz Landsman), whose penchant for using ten words when one would do is evident throughout. Melissa, Lady Blanche’s daughter (Sinead Black) enters and joins Lady Blanche in a beautifully sung duet “Now Wouldn’t You Like to Rule the Roast”. A modicum of awkward cross-dressing ensues before we have the entry of the title character played by Gillian Robertson. Normally, when I report on Gillian’s performance I have to revert to adjectives such as first-class and flawless. Not so this time, I’m afraid. Here, I have to say that Gillian raised the bar to extreme heights – her performance of “Minerva” was exquisite, and her character, in general, was unassailable. Well done Gillian! Minor characters who must also receive a mention are Sacharissa (Rachel Allan), Chloe (Morag Riley) and Ada (Clare White). These three dependable “Girl” Graduates were put to good use when stage dressing required setting or striking, or one of Hilarion’s clan required a dance partner!
The Dunfermline G&S chorus never failed to achieve. Seated on audience level, either side of the action, they were kept busy with the choral requirements – so essential in a G&S opera.
Director Rae Lamond deserves full praise for an inventive production, bearing in mind the use of two differing production venues, which, necessarily, required minimal use of set pieces, but the use of heraldic banners helped to place Acts Two & Three. Musical Director Willie Campbell also brought out the singing to a high level for both experienced and inexperienced cast alike. The Company as a whole was provided with excellent backing by Carol Madden (Accompanist).
Well done DGASS! Look forward to seeing your fully staged production of Pirates of Penzance next February!
The 52nd Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Dunfermline Gilbert and Sullivan Society will be held on Wednesday 18 May 2022 at 7.30pm in person at Limekilns Parish Church and also via Zoom. The link will be emailed to members. The agendas may be downloaded from this link.
We were saddened at a recent rehearsal to learn of the sudden and unexpected death on 29 November 2021, aged 76, of Geoff Strong, a long-standing member who was one of our Princess Ida team. Our chair, Morag Riley, writes:
Geoff Strong joined DGASS in 1990 and his first performance was HMS Pinafore. Since then he has sung in every show the society has put on, as well as many concerts and carol-singing. He was truly a chorus man, putting his heart and soul into every performance. His stage presence was exuberant, to say the least.
But Geoff was more than that. As Publicity Manager, he was the face of DGASS throughout the years from the days when we would take part in the annual Hobbies Exhibition in the Glen Pavilion, to more recent promotions around Dunfermline, including at the Kingsgate shopping centre. So many people have been delighted to be serenaded by Geoff as he was publicising our latest show. Many were won over by his infectious good humour and encouraged to buy tickets, or even to join the society.
Actually, Geoff was liable to burst into song at the slightest provocation, not only G&S, but maybe something from The Desert Song. He would do this in any location from street to church. This is a memory common even to people who had only recently met him.
If you were new to the Society, Geoff would be the first to greet you and introduce you around. You never felt a stranger when he was there. He was interested in people, and always made a point of finding out about you, remembering your story too. Even those whose only interaction with Geoff was over Zoom were charmed with his quirky show-related artefacts.
Geoff will be missed by us all, and he has left a hole that will be difficult to fill. So many members have fond memories of being on stage with him. He was a one off. Just being around him made you feel happy. I’d like to think that being around us made him happy too. RIP Geoff – we will miss you.
The headline image comes from our 2020 show programme. Here are some more images of Geoff:
From our Secretary:
NODA advice is to cancel rehearsals that are this side of Christmas so we, in common with many other groups, are reluctantly cancelling this evening’s rehearsal. Sorry about the short notice!
We intend to return to rehearsal on Wednesday 5 January, but you will receive further updates. Meantime look at Rae’s videos on Facebook. Please practise all your moves. Get your vocal score out and practise the music too. Principals practise your dialogue!
Meanwhile, have a lovely Christmas and New Year! Stay safe and protect your loved ones.
The BIG news is that from Wednesday 13 October we’ll be able to have a cuppa before the rehearsal. From 7.00pm, if you bring your own cup, we’ll have the tea/coffee/milk. A chance to catch up, without the rush at half-time.
We also hope that there will be a Christmas meal out at the Pitbauchlie on Friday 10 December. Jack Archibald will have copies of the menu available for perusal at the next rehearsal, so please take a look, and let Jack know if you are interested, so that he can get this organised.
We were greatly encouraged to hear at last night’s rehearsal that, with the exception of one minor part, we now have a complete cast of principals for Princess Ida.
You’ll see from the cast list at this link that several principals who have previously performed with the Society are back after a period of absence, and we are delighted to welcome new faces and fresh voices, many from across the Forth. It promises to be a very well-sung show!
Rae will be finalising the chorus placements in the very near future so, if you or your friends are hesitating about joining in the fun, you need to make that decision very soon, and make contact with Rae today.
The 51st Annual General Meeting of the Dunfermline Gilbert and Sullivan Society was held on Wednesday 19 May 2021. Because of the coronavirus lock-down, the meeting was conducted on-line by Zoom, and 22 current members successfully logged in.
The Finance Manager’s report, having been circulated before the meeting, was discussed and accepted, the Chair’s report (which will be circulated to members) was discussed, and the Management Committee proposal that the annual subscription remain at £120 (£10/month by standing order) was accepted unanimously with one abstention.
The forthcoming Zoom production of The Mikado was discussed. The March Zoom pantomime, The Merryman and His Maid, written by Robin Ożóg, was widely regarded as being highly successful. The invaluable contributions to both productions of Robin Ożóg (Director), Willie Campbell (Musical Director) and Martin Tarr (Technical Manager) were acknowledged by all. The Wednesday Social evenings, each rounded off by one of Robin’s quizzes, have been much appreciated by participants.
It was hoped that the 2022 production of The Pirates of Penzance would go ahead as planned, but it was acknowledged that there is still uncertainty about likely restrictions associated with the pandemic. [It has since been necessary to postpone the production till 2023. A semi-staged performance of Princess Ida is being undertaken instead.]
The Chairman (Morag Riley), Finance and Ticket Sales Manager (Anne Dolbear) and Programme Manager (John Allen) were re-elected, and Mark Cecil re-appointed as Accounts Examiner.