Torrevieja, on the Costa Blanca, in sunny Spain Torrevieja, on the Costa Blanca, in sunny Spain

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The Gilbert and Sullivan society in Torrevieja

The Gilbert and Sullivan Society in Torrevieja

The Gilbert and Sullivan Society in Torrevieja

A Brief History

The Society was founded in 1995, when in response to a newspaper advertisement, twenty six like minded people came together to produce, for public performance, the operettas of Gilbert and Sullivan. The Societies aim was to produce each year a different operetta. To-date we have produced and performed twelve (two of them twice) of the major operettas. Cyril Willoughby was appointed Musical Director and Joan Rice provided piano accompaniment. Joan retired in 2001 and was succeeded in 2002, by Susan Brace Guest, who is now our full time accompanist. In 1999, the Society became a fully registered association, with the Valencia authorities. In 2005, the Society celebrated the tenth anniversary of its foundation.

Productions to-date :-
1996 - Trial by Jury.
1998 - Pirates of Penzance
1999 - The Mikado.
2000 - HMS Pinafore.
2001 - Trial by Jury.
2001 - G&S excerpts in Concert.
2002 - Iolanthe.
2003 - The Gondoliers.
2004 - The Yeomen of the Guard.
2004 - G&S excerpts in Concert.
2005 - Patience.
2005 - Grand Gala Concert.
2005 - St Cecilia Concert.
2006 - Pirates of Penzance
2006 - Autumn Concerts
2006 - St Cecilia Concert
2007 - The Mikado
2007 - St Cecilia Concert
2008 - The Sorcerer
2008 - Saint Cecilia Concert
2008 - The Mikado
2009 - H.M.S. Pinafore
2009 - Saint Cecilia Concert

The Society also performs Christmas Carol concerts at various venues.

Support for Charities
As a result of its productions, the Society has donated in excess of ‚40,000 to local and international charities. The following charities have received donations: Help Association Torrevieja, AEBE, AECC, ANDE, APENEE, Multiple Sclerosis, Spina Bifida, Caritas International, Caritas Espanla, Cruz Roja Espanola, Regidoria de Benestar Social Guardamar, Alzheimers Association, "ASPANION" and Age Concern, Costa Blanca Sur.

Membership
Full members are now in excess of forty and pay an annual fee of 50 Euros. This is necessary to help to pay for the cost of renting a rehearsal room and a storage facility together with costumes and sets. Our members have a multitude of talents including: Singing, Dancing, Acting, Stage & Music Direction, Musical Accompanist, Choreography, Costume Design, Sewing Machinists, Stage Electrics and Sound, Set Design and Construction, Stage Prompting, Front and In-House Staff. If you feel that you could offer your expertise in any of the above, we would like to meet you. For further information, please see under "Contacts"

Contacts
For any information about our Society, please contact :-
a) The Society Publicity Officer, Jeff Myers,966 714 445, jeffanddallas@hotmail.com 
b) The Society Social Secretary, Cindy Willoughby, or Musical Director Cyril Willoughby on 966 785 877, or email cwillo.es@gmail

We would heartily welcome new singers, male and female and anyone who is interested in production support If you would like to join us, why not come along to our rehearsals which are held every Tuesday and Friday mornings, 10am to 12:30, at the Restaurante Casa Ventura, San Luis, Torrevieja. We would be delighted to see you and you will find we are a very friendly lot.

There is also an opportunity for a person with choral conducting experience and a piano accompanist to assist in the musical side of our productions. Why not join us and enjoy using your skill?
 

FORTHCOMING SHOW

Tickets now available

The Gilbert and Sullivan Society in Torrevieja

The Gondoliers, or The King of Barataria, was the twelfth opera written together by Gilbert and Sullivan. Opening on December 7, 1889 at the Savoy Theatre, The Gondoliers ran for 554 performances, and was the last of the G&S operas that would achieve wide popularity. Its lilting score has, perhaps, the most sparkling and tuneful music of them all and calls for the most dancing.

In this opera, Gilbert returns to satire of snobbery regarding class distinctions and begins his fascination, which will play an even larger part in the next opera, Utopia Limited, with the "stock company act" using the absurd convergence of natural persons and legal entities. Again setting his work comfortably far away from mother England, Gilbert is emboldened to level somewhat harsh criticism on the noble class, and the institution of the monarchy itself.

Two just-married Venetian gondoliers are informed by the Grand Inquisitor that one of them has just become the King of Barataria, but only their foster mother, presently at large, knows which one. As Barataria needs a king to put down unrest in the country, they travel there to reign jointly, leaving their wives behind in Venice until the old lady can be interviewed.

It turns out that the king was wed in infancy to the daughter of the Spanish Duke of Plaza-Toro, and so it seems he is an unintentional bigamist. Of course, the beautiful daughter is in love with a common servant! When the young Spaniard and the two Venetian wives all show up wanting to know which of them is queen, complications arise. No worries, the true identity of the king is revealed, and all is combed out spectacularly well by the end.
 

Recent Shows

H.M.S. Pinafore

The Gilbert and Sullivan Society in Torrevieja

HMS PINAFORE, THOUGHTS FROM PROMPT CORNER BY CAROL MANNING

It was with some trepidation that I ventured into "prompt corner". With the departure of the sadly missed former prompter Diana Peper for foreign shores, I was asked to fill this vacant position. What a responsibility: The Gilbert & Sullivan Society were presenting HMS Pinafore at the Casa de Cultura, Guardamar. I must immediately declare an interest as I was a founder member of the Society and regard the members as friends. Having been committed elsewhere I was not going to be in this production and so I had the honour of being asked! They didn't warn me at the time that I might be required to write this! Having never done this job before I had lots of encouragement but those who tried to warn me of the difficulties I told I didn't want to know. I needed all the confidence I could muster. Diana had assured me that I would probably not be needed but I knew from my stage experience the reassurance one felt to know that there is a reliable "friend" to help you out of any difficulties. I have worked with a Director who wouldn't have a prompter and didn't like it.

I was very well appointed in prompt corner with a light, a little table, and chair and far more room than I've ever had in a dressing room. The sailors were my first worry. Cindy Willoughby and her front of house team were first to have to cope with them as they entered from the auditorium What an unruly bunch. How Mava and Trevor ever got them in order is beyond me. Mava is Mava Bingham Stage Director - she who must be obeyed. Trevor is Trevor King, Assistant Stage Director and Stage Manager, I believe he was largely responsible for all the movement in the opera which so brought it to life, even to the Charleston! I must explain. Instead of Portsmouth in 1878 HMS Pinafore was docked in Bermuda in the 1930s. Hence the "Queen's" navy became the "King's" navy amongst other changes. W.S. Gilbert would have had no trouble recognising the words of his songs but I'm not sure about the libretto! The story line remained the same but the words were very different.

Sir Arthur Sullivan would have had no problem recognising his music under the skilled hand of Cyril Willoughby. What patience that man has. (But that's another operetta). With HMS Pinafore being of only one and three quarters of an hour duration it is sometimes supplemented with a number from another of the operas and this was done to open act two to great effect. "Climbing over Rocky Mountains" from The Pirates of Penzance was used magnificently to show off the ladies in their wonderful costumes, thanks to Lena Brand amongst others. The lighting had been dimmed and the ship lit. The scenery truly complemented the picture thanks to Ted Williams and his team. As to the words in this additional item once again I doubt if Gilbert would have recognised many of them as they were rewritten in a more nautical (and naughty) fashion to better suit the story line and setting. The addition provided two nice little cameos for Alison Davies and Marie Sills

We are so lucky in the Society to have such talent available to us with Gwyneth Farrer taking the soprano lead as Josephine; Don Woods lead tenor as Ralf; John Wallace as Sir Joseph Porter; Norman Shelley as the Captain; Pat King as Buttercup; Norman Lee as Dick Deadeye; Christeen Ansell as Hebe; John Gardiner as the Boatswain and Trevor Ansell as his mate. The other male chorus were of course sailors but the ladies' chorus were described as "Debs, Delites and Sophisticates" They were supposed to be Sir Joseph Porter's "sisters, cousins and aunts" but I don't think Mava needed to worry too much about Sir Joseph marrying one of his "cousins". Of course we all know that the most important person in any production like this is the accompanist and in Sue Brace Guest we have one of the best. She is so dedicated and reliable and uncomplaining. I can't imagine having to sit and play for all that time. The concentration; - she has to play everyone's parts.

Back to me and my job in prompt corner. Yes I gave it all my concentration but I was glad it was an opera and not a play. At least I got some time off to sit back and enjoy the music and the singing. It looked good and sounded good from where I was sitting and it sounded as if the audiences thought so too. Would I do it again if asked? I hope not. I want to be back on stage. But I enjoyed the experience.

Thanks must go to the staff at Guardamar Casa de Cultura and to the town hall for allowing its use also to the many other people who made the production possible and of course to our audiences for their support. At the final curtain Trevor Ansell our Chairman presented a cheque for 3,500 Euros for the Mayor's choice of charities.


The Mikado - After Show Report

Torrevieja Gilbert and Sullivan

For three days in March 2007, the G. & S. Society transported entranced audiences to the town of Titipu for a vibrant, hilarious, up-to-date version of The Mikado. The difficulties of dealing with full houses and un-numbered seats, were manfully overcome by front of house manager, Cindy Willoughby and her smart, good mannered team of helpers, who helped ease the trauma of the struggle up the unforgiving marble staircase in the Guardamar Casa de Cultura. Remaining complaints over seating arrangements were wafted away by fans provided by the G. & S. Society, and presented to each lady in the audience by two attractive Geishas - a touch of finesse typical of the approach which has made this Society outstanding in the area.

There were gasps of appreciation when the curtain went back revealing the chorus of Gentlemen of Japan, using their own, rather larger fans, in choreographed harmony. The G. & S. characters, well known to aficionados, did not lose their familiarity, but they appeared lively and up-dated.

Don Woods as Nanki-Poo made a heroic figure, and was entirely convincing, as was his beautiful bride (elected), Yum-Yum, played by Gwyneth Farrer. David Boardman succeeded in making pompous Pooh-Bah really rather loveable; Jeanne Walker as Katisha spoke and sang beautifully, and gripped the audience with her immense stage presence; the same goes for John Gardiner who must have been in Gilbert's mind when he wrote the part of the Mikado, he fitted it so well. John Wallace's interpretation of Ko-Ko, the Lord High Executioner, led us straight into the realms of the late Frankie Howard - an extraordinary performance, over-shadowing none of the brilliant cast, but pivotal, professional and energetic. Christeen Ansell as Pitti-Sing had a charisma of her own; and Norman Shelley as Pish-Tush and Marie Sills as Peep-Bo, performed their roles to such a high standard.

Throughout the men's and women's chorus sang and danced with professional, stylised, well-drilled step-sequences. All credit for this fantastic production must go to the Stage Director, Mava Bingham, who also led the brilliant team of costume makers; to the Music Director, Cyril Willoughby, who works tirelessly, and with skilful encouragement for his singers; to the Accompanist, Susan Brace Guest, whose playing appears effortless, though I'm sure it's not.

Congratulations to the back stage team of Scenery Constructors led by Ted Williams - the result of their very hard and diligent work was self-evident.
As a consequence of this combined effort, the Society was able to make a presentation of 5,000‚ to Guardamar Ayuntamiento, Cruz Roja Espanola, and Caritas Espanola.

The cheque was handed over by Trevor Ansell, Chairman of G&S Society, and received by, Antonio Puigcever and Jest Ontemente, representing the Mayor of Guardamar.

 

Jeff Myers
Public relations for Gilbert and Sullivan in Torrevieja
Email jeffanddallas@hotmail.com

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