In Spring 2020 LOpSoc brought the internationally renowned H.M.S. Pinafore to The Annex Theatre! As we neared
our 50th Anniversary we decided to take a look back at the show that launched the Savoy Operas onto the international
stage. H.M.S. Pinafore was the first of Gilbert and Sullivan's Light Operas to make a splash across the Atlantic with
numerous 'pirate productions' popping up across the US enabled by their lax international copyright laws. In celebration of
that golden era we kept the setting almost unchanged. We followed the crew of a Victorian Naval Galley on the day the Lord
Admiral of the Navy payed a visit.
The H.M.S. Pinafore is a British Navy vessel crewed by the very best of Great Britain's naval officers. The gallant Captain Corcoran rules with an even temper, the very definition of firm but fair. The captain is well liked by all his crew but for the lowly sailor Ralph Rackstraw the captain's daughter is the most important person on the Pinafore. Josephine has lived aboard the Pinafore with her doting farther as long as Ralph can remember and he has loved her for almost as long. He has kept his affections hidden, knowing full well the uproar there would be at a common sailor marrying a captain's daughter. Meanwhile, Josephine is doing her best to play the part of the dutiful daughter in the lead up to meeting her future husband Sir Joseph, Lord Admiral of the Navy, but she finds herself besotted with the handsome, intelligent Ralph Rackstraw. In spite of her feelings she is committed to making her father happy and agrees to go ahead with the marriage, promising to keep her true wishes hidden. But when Sir Joseph proclaims that "A British sailor is any man's equal" Ralph is filled with new confidence and consults his shipmates in preparation to announce his love that night. Josephine is caught between her infatuation with this daring sailor and her love for her father and with the wedding just days away the captain begins to get anxious about the sudden change in the behaviour of his crew. Ralph and Josephine both must choose between love and duty as the traditionalists of the crew mount forces against them and dark secrets, locked in the murky depths of history for decades, begin to rear their ugly head once more...
In the summer of 2019, LOpSoc brought two shows in as many acts to The Annex Theatre for our Double Feature of G&S'
Trial by Jury and Sullivan and Rowe's The Zoo. Like our production of Patience in the
summer of 2018, these shows were forward to the (relatively) modern day. We set Trial in a
90s reality TV courtroom broadcast under the name The Judge Goode Show. The Learned Judge became an acerbic
reality show star, The Usher a highly strung executive producer and the chorus of bridesmaids a rowdy hen party.
The events of The Zoo took place down the road from our TV studio as members the jury and the Judge Goode
production crew tried to enjoy a day at the zoo. The tranquil setting was interrupted by the hectic love stories that
remain almost unchanged from the original Libretto.
The lights come up on the set, the theme tune begins to play, And over a loud speaker you hear "The Judge Good Show is filmed in front of a live studio audience!" The Executive producer can be seen rushing through the audience and picking members to act as jurors on the show. He gives them strict instructions to hold today's defendant in contempt. Edwin, the defendant, is greeted to the set to the sound of a booing audience. Edwin is accused of breaking the promise of marriage and, though still hostile as instructed, the Jury begin to sympathise with Edwin in his unhappy engagement. Then, the plaintiff enters, and everyone immediately falls in love with her. The Executive Producer watches in horror as more and more convoluted solutions are suggested by all on set and the show flies out of his control...
Around the same time, we bump into some familiar faces from the set of The Judge Goode show on a relaxing day out to the zoo. Everyone is gathered for the opening of the new bear pit. The calm is suddenly interrupted by a distraught Æsculapius Carboy rushing in and announcing he is emigrating abroad. He explains he has been communicating with his girlfriend, Lætitia Grinder, behind her father's back by writing on the labels of medication he's been prescribing them as their pharmacist. He has received news that there had been a mix up of Lætitia and her Father's medicine with fatal consequences. Just as Carboy is about to flee the scene in guilt, Lætitia appears claiming that letter containing news of the mix up was a joke from her sister, and declares her love for Carboy. Their happiness doesn't last long, however. Mr Grinder enters and refuses to let the couple marry. Meanwhile, a mysterious stranger by the name of Thomas is going to great lengths to impress Eliza, the owner of the zoo's cafe. As we learn more about Thomas, the fates of Carboy and Lætitia become irreversibly tied to him and Eliza, and hope begins to resurface. All throughout, Mr Grinder watches from afar, plotting his next move.
For the first time in nine years LOpSoc brought Gilbert and Sullivan's eighth operetta to the Annex Theatre! To recapture
the begrudging tolerance and cooperation of the two neighbouring kingdoms described in the original libretto we
set our production in an Early Medieval England. The Hildebrands were the rulers of of a Anglo-Saxon kingdom and Gama
was the Jarl of a local Viking settlement seeking to increase his legitimacy and influence by marrying his daughter
into the royal line. Ida's women's university became Fort Adamant, a new invention better understood
by the more liberal Viking community but ultimately unacceptable to the Anglo-Saxons. LOpSoc started 2019 with
another fresh re-imagining of a classic Savoy opera!
Prince Hilarion, heir to an Anglo-Saxon kingdom, was betrothed to Ida, daughter of the Jarl presiding over a local Viking settlement, when they were infants. The two have been separated ever since. Our story unfolds as Hilarion and the court of his father, King Hildebrand, await the arrival of Ida and her family for the long awaited marriage, only to find Ida has disappeared! Jarl Gama and his family explain that Ida has forsworn all men and founded a Women's University. As tensions rise between the two rulers Hilarion proposes he travels to Fort Adamant to remind Ida of her betrothal. Disguised as students at the fort the Prince and his friends, Cyril and Florian, begin their mission to woo Ida into accepting the marriage. But as more and more of the student body discover their true identities, chaos ensues within the university. And beyond the walls, King Hildebrand is amassing an army with the promise to aid his son by any means necessary...
For the first time in its history, LOpSoc performed Patience, the sixth operatic collaboration between Gilbert and Sullivan.
The original show is a love story set in a parody on the aesthetic movement of the 1870’s and 80’s. However, it comments
more broadly on fad culture in general, and the superficiality and pretentiousness of such movements. Therefore, from
the Victorian countryside, LOpSoc's Patience was moved onto an early 2000’s bustling London street. Rather than Oscar
Wilde-like dandies, the poets became avant-garde hipsters. The cavalry regiment became a rugby team, and Patience went
from milkmaid to barista. A unique production that brought this comedic ‘coming of age’ story into the 21st Century!
A group of trendy young ladies in London, rapturously caught up in the hipster fashion, are in love with two promising rival poets. But the poets have no interest in the ladies, as they are both fighting for the love of Patience, a simple barista, who cares nothing for fashion and has never been in love all her life. Patience believes that true love must be completely unselfish - it must wither and sting and burn! Meanwhile, the players of "The Dragoons", the local rugby team, are all broken-hearted as the ladies have eyes only for the hipster poets. Even though they don't see the point to fashion, the team decides to give it a try in order to win the ladies' hearts...
"The Annex was absolutely magical. " -
The Edge review
This unique production was set in a folk festival, with a visual aesthetic and dance style to match. The music has been completely rearranged, faithful to the original melodies, with a new reduced score for a folk band and full SATB chorus numbers throughout. The libretto was kept faithful to the original, making this an inventive new take on this classic operetta.
The baronets of Ruddygore have been cursed, and must commit a heinous crime each day or perish in a torturous death. However, the rightful heir to the baronetcy is in hiding, safe from the curse and all it entails... Rose Maybud is secretly in love with Robin Oakapple. While the two youths struggle to confess their love for one another, Robin's foster brother, Richard Dauntless, asks for Rose's hand in marriage. Robin comes forward at the last minute, and proposes to marry Rose as well. Meanwhile, Sir Despard, the current baronet of Ruddygore, learns that his elder brother whom he believed to be dead not only is still alive, but is also one of Rose Maybud's suitors. Despard takes this opportunity to set himself free from the curse of Ruddygore, passing it on to his brother... Who will inherit the witch’s curse? And what does Basingstoke have to do with all of this? Romance, ghosts, ceilidhs, magic, action, folk music and hilarious comedy met in the Annex stage.
LOpSoc went once again on the Nuffield Theatre stage with a fresh and unique production of “The Mikado”, one of the most
loved and best lasting Gilbert & Sullivan operettas. With a new aesthetic twist and setting, witty libretto and gorgeous
music, a production to please newcomers and G&S fans alike.
"The outcome? Another wonderdul performance. " - Soton Tab review
"...a brave attempt to explore a different side of the Japanese culture. " - Daily Echo review
The tale begins when three children decide to fold origami figures. They play with their creations, naming each one and imagining a story for them. However the three friends do not always agree on the proceedings... Nanki-Poo, son of the Mikado, fled the imperial court to escape marriage with Katisha. Disguised, he falls in love with Yum-Yum, who is already betrothed to her guardian Ko-Ko, the soft-hearted Lord High Executioner of Titipu. Meanwhile, Katisha discovers Nanki-Poo's whereabouts, and the Mikado send orders that an execution must happen within a month if the town wishes to keep its status. Intersecting love triangles, political intrigue, disguised identities and a lot of origami meet in Titipu!
LOpSoc presented a performance of the vibrant and energetic musical 'Half a Sixpence' in June 2017. The play opens in Shalford’s Drapery Emporium where Kipps works and lives as an apprentice draper. Ann, Kipps’ childhood sweetheart, is in service so they don't get much chance to see each other. Kipps thinks that a lover’s token might help the romance, but the next day brings news that is to change his life. He is marched off to join his woodwork class run by Helen Walsingham. Ann is cross and walks out on him just before he learns that he has inherited a fortune. Spurred on by his new social standing Kipps proposes to Helen, but her family pressure makes him realise that Ann is his first and real love. Kipps and Ann marry but his yearning to maintain his social standing creates problems between them...