Gilbert & Sullivan Evening at AQSC on 10 September
Now I have to say from the outset that this is not my kind of thing. I guess it’s because I’m just not into musicals. I once slept through Les Miserables and with the exception of Phantom have never been to another. However, I do know that many people rave about G&S, and anyway the world would be a boring place if we all liked the same things.
Rodger started his recruitment drive for “The Pinafore Pirates of Titipu” in July. I’m not sure G&S ever wrote something called that, but I guess Rodger knows what he’s doing. The following hilarious account of the show was sent to ‘The Mainsheet’ by Mike Hendra ……
‘Mick are doe’.
I was a little sad when the opening Flanders’s and Swan concert did not go ahead at the beginning of the season but then I saw the Panto video and swore that I would never appear in another Aquarius production.
When Rodger promulgated the G & S concert, somehow I had momentarily forgotten my vow and agreed to take part. As the dates drew near I thought I was rescued by friends with a yacht in Mallorca who invited me to spend some time with them. This invitation coupled with Rodger’s wedding duties should see me unrehearsed before going and scratched when I came back.
Over the summer I had forgotten Rodger’s enthusiasm and tenacity so it was not long
after I set foot back in dear-
Our first gathering occurred at the club house on Saturday 9-
When we arrived (with a very nice cake made from windfall apples) things were going well with the three little maids.
Some practice did occur but with George plying us liberally with one brew or another, the evening took on more the form of a party than a rehearsal.
Unfortunately the karaoke DVD was too quiet for us to hear the verses and so loud during the choruses that we thought the Brays might have trouble with their neighbours.
I emailed a couple of friends to ask if they would like to attend the evening and to my surprise three of the four accepted. One was a lass we had sailed with a few years ago and she happened to mention she had a pirate outfit.
I had conveyed this to Rodger who thought she might be useful and to my surprise George arrived on my doorstep the following morning with the words and music for her to sing the Pirate King. I protested that there was no time and no opportunity to rehearse so the matter was left, or so I thought.
I struggled with the karaoke CD and eventually downloaded my own version of my two songs. I had told Rodger about my karaoke problem but he assured me that he would have it solved by Saturday. It was plain that the size and the requirement of the production was a big task but Rodger was confident and enthusiastic.
I had sent Mia, our pirate, a copy of the Floral Dance, but she still did not know about the Pirate King part. She was due for lunch at one oclock on Saturday but got lost in New Malden so it was nearly two before I managed to locate and rescue her.
Lunch was a more hasty affair than planned but we were off in time to be at the club for the three o’clock rehearsal. Our timing was perfect, we arrived just behind Ann and Leo so Jean did not have to fight with the gate lock.
Subsequent arrivals were reasonably on time for the club, but Rodger was notable absent. We milled around a bit sheep like for a while, slowly focusing on the task and eventually our trusty producer arrived with the scripts and song sheets.
Now at last, at four on Saturday, we had our first glimpse of the plot and sequencing. Rodger was clearly stressed and to our horror the printing process has gone wrong and most of the scripts were incomplete so Mia was now set to work with the task of script organising.
We tried a few songs and clearly there were problems but still we were assured all would be well. Rodger then sailed off home, across the river, to solve some problem or other whilst Jean tried to manage the music.
Some semblance of order began to develop and we arranged ourselves into something resembling a cast.
Suddenly Rodger appeared looking rather like a two-
Mia continued to solve the script puzzle whilst Jean and Rodger, now stripped to his underdaks, struggled with the music. Finally, at six we began a full rehearsal.
Notwithstanding the unsolvables, mainly the lack of scripts and song sheets, the
rehearsal went fairly well in a rough kind of way. Richard had been called to assist
with the music and he had worked something akin to magic with the mass of cables
wires and screens. The song sequencing went smoothly enough, confidence built and
we relaxed a little at about six-
Our trusty catering personnel arrived with the evening spread (at least dinner looked safe) chairs were brought out and the place began to take on some air of normality. With the first signs of an audience arriving, the cast went to change and what a fantastic array of costumes appeared.
With the audience seated and expectant, the overture and beginners commenced and went on and on and on and on. None of the cast had heard the intro before and I found it difficult to manage the competing emotions that were invoked. First the giggles, then the wondering about when it would actually finish, if ever, then the restlessness in the audience and finally as doom was approaching it finished. “Thank something or other!”
Amazingly, at least from my point of view, the production got underway with things not appearing too rough. I had high hopes for my own contribution as I had practiced well and even sounded reasonable, or so I thought. I knew the backing for the Mikado’s song was not good so I had used a recording of an actual performance downloaded to an mp3 player and it worked well.
After the overture fiasco the opening went reasonably well but when my music should have stared there was silence. Words appeared on the computer screen but I heard nothing but my own breathing. “S***!!!! Go anyway!” I thought, so I did and here I offer sincere apologies.
Now the sound system was starting to have a game all of its own, almost baiting, teasing and smiling at Rodger. As and when necessary, almost all of the time, Richard coaxed the thing back in line and the audience appeared to actually enjoy our antics.
When our rather gorgeous, very feminine, pirate king began her song in a deep male
voice, the tension finally broke for me. It had been my idea to include the Floral
Dance, for no better reason that I liked it. Once again I had down-
Notwithstanding our lack of rehearsal, the energy and enthusiasm of the song seemed to carry it and it was a high point for Mia and I, and I hope for the audience as well. Eventually we reached the end with no boos or pies being hurled at us and many of our audience actually said they had enjoyed the production so perhaps all was not lost and the spirit of Aquarius had triumphed again.
Whatever the performance, it is the catering service that pulls all the irons out of the fire and here they did it once again. So thanks to Linda, who spent a whole day preparing food, Diana who did a sterling job with the salads as well as the dedicated bar people who keep the whole thing lubricated. Thanks also to Gordon for driving the dishwasher, as he does so doggedly and all who lent a hand in the huge clean up job that comes at the end of every Aquarius operation.
This is my story and there are several dozen others, one for each of the great sports who took part in or who supported us and the club.
Aquarius is supposed to be a sailing club but that is just a corporation name for a building company, a garden maintenance concern, a catering company, a boat builders, a social club and a theatre production company to name just a few and it is a great place in which to be a member.
Suffice to say, many work hard to make the place what it is and some work harder than others as always. For this production we must thank (or blame) Rodger, for without him this entertainment would not have happened and he nearly drowned himself in the process. Thanks Rodger!
Why do I do this? Well it is like passage sailing for me, I am enthusiastic at the start, disappointed with the progress and conditions on the way, thankful when I have finished and impatient to go again within a very short time. Without the other silly buggers in the crew (including my own lovely Buttercup) this would not have been possible and the fun and camaraderie would have been missed so ‘till the next time, thank you all from me.
Three Little Maids from School
Koko, Lord High Excecutioner