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Insight‌ The magazine for MAY 2012

INSIDE THIS ISSUE: Chairman's Letter


Carmen Reviews


Beauty and The 5 Beast Directors Notes

Beauty and The Beast Character Synopsis


Our New Members


News and Events 9

News and Events 10 An Interview with our President


Your Committee


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Chairman’s Letter...


always wanted to be a journalist. The thought of boozing all day on expenses, then idling back to the office to dictate a few hundred words to a doe eyed secretary seemed like a perfectly estimable ambition. Of course it all changed when the newspapers moved out from Fleet Street to Wapping (no decent pubs) and exchanged the secretaries for word processors. So now, every six months, I’m invited to vent frustrated ambition via this Chairman's letter, and the brain regularly fails to engage. So forgive the ramblings if you can and join me in a little trip from the past to the future. There may be occasions when you ask yourself whether we need a Committee at all to run the society. After all, when the people who started OxOps all those years ago met up for the first time I don’t suppose they needed a rota to determine who would be washing up the coffee cups the following week! Of course we’re a group of 100 friends now. The decision making process would be very difficult if every member had to sit round a table every month trying to decide the best way forward for the society. Your Committee is only 8 elected Members, but we often have to try and think like over 100, which can be a bit of a challenge! Unsurprisingly things can sometimes go wrong. Fortunately we have electronic communication now, which means that Members can easily let us know if something has either been overlooked or could have been handled differently. As Chairman I truly welcome this. Knowing the Committee as I do, I haven’t yet detected any signs of personal enhancement being a motive for seeking election and it’s certainly not the money (we don’t get paid!). I’m sure that if we go right back to when the first Committee was formed, it was love of the Society and a determination to make it better that have always been the motivations. However our Rules and Regulations wisely determine that your Committee is refreshed every year so to make sure that it doesn’t get set in it’s ways and lose touch with the Members. We now audition upwards of 30 potential new Members every year and each new member will have very different expectations. Keeping everybody involved and happy therefore requires a committee that has an open and approachable nature. Talking to the Chairman of another Society recently, and to Associate Members of a couple more, it’s clear that maintaining audience numbers is a universal problem. One solution is to just do one major production each year with a longer rehearsal period and fill the remainder of the year with a concert and workshops. It would certainly make our life easier. The point is to make sure that we keep on our toes and be prepared to think adventurously. We’ve unfortunately not been able to announce the shows after next spring yet. Potentially there are some interesting options available, but we’re not able to commit until decisions on release dates have been finalised. You can be assured that you’ll be the first to know! To return to the present, we’ve got yet another fantastic show on our hands with Thoroughly Modern Millie. It’s clear from this show that all the principals and chorus have put in a tremendous amount of effort to make it looks so dazzling. I can’t thank you all enough. Have a fantastic show week.

Dennis Garrett


Carmen - critical acclaim... Daily Info... Considering that Oxford Operatic Society’s members are all amateurs, some of the voices are very impressive. Sian Millett is excellent as the eponymous heroine, a free-spirited, sultry gypsy who falls in love with young impressionable soldier Don J o s e . A s h i s possessiveness suffocates her, she switches her attentions to the charismatic bullfighter Escamillo, which pushes Don Jose to the brink of jealous despair, with devastating consequences.


As a first opera I had been told that Carmen was a very good choice. Not wanting to reveal myself as an uncultured fool, but having some well-known catchy tunes made the thought of the warbling a bit less intimidating! The famous Toreador’s Song was definitely a highlight, as was the scene that followed featuring two smugglers tr ying to persuade Carmen and two other gypsy girls to help them smuggle their contraband into the mountains.

Theatreworld Internet Magazine... Five members of the company are excellent in their performance of the quintet as they try to encourage Carmen to join in their latest adventure and tease her about her unexpected love for Don José. Guy Grimsley comes into his own as Don José, giving a fine performance of a young man torn by jealousy and guilt at abandoning his mother and his first love. Carmen's new love, the toreador Escamilio, has a much more carefree outlook on life, and his charisma and charm are well played by Stephen Pascoe. The finale of the Opera takes place outside the bullring in Seville and once again members of female chorus demonstrate their versatility by performing a formal flamenco: Alex Williams showing that not only can he sing as the leader of the smugglers Dancairo, but that he is fleet of foot too. Also deserving mention for their performances as Dancairo’s comrades are the fiesty Hannah Grainger Clemson, seductive Sarah Appearing in the lead role, Sian Millet, put her Leatherbarrow and a jocular Simon Tavener. professional training to stunning good use expressing both the angry passion and love of life that the gypsy is Julie Todd's clear musical direction was evident as famous for. Also deserving mention for her delicate she conducted the tight and well-paced orchestra singing and very expressive acting is Jennifer Riley-Smith and the whole production caused evident taking the part of Micaela, a quiet country girl who is the enjoyment in the audience. first love of the flawed hero Don José. By the end of the week the cast will have grown We first encounter Don José as a non-descript corporal confident in their ability to portray some of the from a battalion stationed in Seville, a rather endearing nuances in character and story development troop of soldiers in the hands of the large and enthusiastic required by this passionate piece. male chorus of the Society. ♫ ♪♫ ♪♫ ♪♫ ♪♫ ♪♫ ♪♫ ♪♫ ♪♫ ♪♫ ♪♫ ♪ ♫ ♪♫ ♪♫ ♪♫


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Carmen… full of Spanish passion!

Peter Clark... (Wrote the English translation) Many congratulations! I really did enjoy your production of Carmen on Saturday night. From beginning to end the pace never slackened and I thought that, particularly the chorus performed well throughout with great commitment and enthusiasm. And it was clearly infectious, as the delighted audience made clear. Excellent diction particularly from the men's opening chorus and good, well sung and drilled chorus work and dancing, both musically and dramatically. Excellent work from the pit with secure and unrushed musical direction. I particularly liked the Act 2 quintet - too often speeded up to an unsingable tempo. But not here; we heard every word. The team work of the principals was first class. Oh dear this is becoming a review, which it is not meant to be! So, once more, congratulations!

Oxford Times…

in her strong, resonant voice and vivid portrayal of one of opera’s greatest heroines. In her hands, the famous Habanera, Seguidilla and Flower Song are the tours de forces they deserve to be. Her Don Jose, Guy Grimsley, captures the impressionable but possessive nature of the character, and the smouldering passion between them develops convincingly.

Another asset to the society is former professional Stephen Pascoe, a wonderful Pooh Bah earlier this year and now a sensational Escamillo, who delivers the Toreador’s song with great energy and style — another show-stopper. Bright, colourful and lively, Oxford Operatic Society’s Carmen, at the Oxford Playhouse his week, is a triumph. Possibly one of their best shows to date. For a company more accustomed to musical theatre and Gilbert and Sullivan, stepping out of their comfort zone into one of the most celebrated works in the operatic repertoire is a brave move indeed. They rose to the challenge superbly! On Monday the cast showed little sign of first night nerves as they romped their way through the piece with all the confidence and proficiency of seasoned pros and there were some outstanding individual performances.

Newcomer Sian Millett is a real acquisition for the society, and as Carmen she dominates effortlessly, her operatic training and experience very much in evidence

There are also sparkling performances from Hannah Grainger-Clemson and Sarah Leatherbarrow as Mercedes and Frasquita, and from Simon Tavener and Alex Williams as the smugglers Remendado and Dancairo, and a sweetly-sung Micaela from Jennifer Riley-Smith.

There is plenty of sparkle from the chorus, who perform with great enthusiasm, energy and style. The running from the factory after Carmen’s knife-wielding antics needed just a little more conviction, but otherwise they impress throughout, and the wonderful gypsy dancing, complete with swirling red skirts, at the beginning of Act 2 is one of the show’s many highlights.

Beauty and the Beast… directors notes THE STORY


The musical begins with a young prince who denies a beggar lodging due to her filthy appearance. She turns out to be a witch and casts a spell on him, turning him into a beast, to reprimand him for his callous behaviour. Giving him a rose, she warns him that he must discover how to truly give and receive love before the last petal falls.

Disney’s Beauty and the Beast may have started as the first animated film to be nominated for the Best Picture Oscar but it has become one of the greatest of modern stage musicals clocking up over 5000 performances on Broadway. It is packed with great tunes, amazing characters and is one of the most spectacular, romantic and magical of shows you will ever see.

Years later, Maurice, Belle's father, is lost in woods and happens upon the beast's castle, while his daughter is in town charming the locals - including Gaston - with her beauty. The father is lured into the castle by the animated household items, before being captured by the Beast and locked away for trespassing. Belle finds her father and makes a deal with the Beast to swap the imprisoned Maurice for herself - and the Beast agrees. Belle starts to care for the Beast, after he protects her from being attacked by a pack of wolves. He is injured and Belle takes care of him instead of fleeing back to town. Meanwhile, Gaston is on a rampage in town to throw Maurice into the asylum and to get rid of the Beast. Belle returns to town to save her father. Gaston finds the Beast and challenges him to a fight. The beast eventually gets the best of Gaston and Belle returns in time to stop a fatal blow. With the Beast focusing on Belle, Gaston stabs him in the back and then he loses his footing and falls to his death. Belle sobs over the Beast as he dies in her arms. She whispers in his ear that she loves him right before the last petal falls and the Beast is resurrected, transforming into his human, princely form. Relieved and elated, the two embrace and live happily ever after.

We are staging it in November at the New Theatre. We will be one

of the last companies to perform this show, as the rights are being withdrawn ahead of Disney remaking it as a film! We have been lucky to secure an amazing set that was last seen on the UK tour of the show and the costumes will be something to behold! Combine that with the brilliant musicians Julie has assembled, Helen’s inspired choreography, the dedicated, hardworking technical team under Phil’s sterling management and the immeasurable contribution of all the other departments, I am sure that it will be a production to remember. From a company perspective, there are brilliant principal roles, great supporting roles and amazing chorus scenes – so something for

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everyone to get their teeth into. From the moment the show opens the action, music, comedy and romance never stops. With a show as iconic as Beauty and the Beast, it would be foolish to change a winning formula by trying to reinvent the piece. However I do not intend just to copy the original Broadway production or the more recent national tour. We will be taking all the key elements and making them our own – a sprinkling of Oxford magic to make it fresh and vibrant for audiences of all ages. It will take hard work and concentration to get to the standards that we demand of ourselves. Julie, Helen and I will make sure that the rehearsal process is as enjoyable as possible whilst also making sure we live up to the expectations of our audience. One of the keys to this is a clear schedule and excellent communication – and I can give you my word that we will do all we can to make sure everyone knows what we are aiming to achieve at every rehearsal.

As this is my first show as a director for the company, I will be drawing on the support and guidance of those directors who have delivered top quality shows in the past as well as the knowledge and experience of the Committee. It is going to be a great few months of bringing Disney magic and Ox Ops together for the first time – and as a former Disney manager, I have a few company tricks up my sleeve…and maybe just a few cakes.

Simon Tavener



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Beauty - character synopsis...

PRINICPAL CHARACTERS Belle Playing age – Early 20s. (Mezzo) Soprano with clear, bright voice. Intelligent, strong-minded, kindhearted, bookish and romantic. She must stay strong and interesting and never descend into a stereotype or a victim. Range low G to top F The Beast Playing age – 25-40. Strong, rich baritone – but needs a good top F. A tricky part to pull off – scary, but not too scary, comic but not too broad, physically strong and attractive (for the final transformation) and yet able to act through a lot of padding, make-up and masks. Mrs Potts Playing age – 35-55. Rich mezzo (needs a bottom F). Maternal but with a slight glint in her eye. Chip Playing age – 7-9. Treble voice. If you know anyone interested, please let us know and we’ll keep you informed about the auditions. Lefou Playing age – 25-40. High baritone with a light tone (up to tenor G). Must be a strong physical comedian and have a keen sense of timing. Must capture the foolish nature of the character and the blind hero-worship Babette Playing age – 20-45. High soprano. Bright, bubbly, flirty and flighty. Must be able to move well. A role where a good fake French accent is essential! Monsieur D'Arque Playing age – 30-65. Baritone with a dark quality to the voice. Must have a brooding air and a sinister presence.

Wardrobe Playing age – 35-60. Rich (operatic) soprano or mezzo. A larger than life character with an imposing presence – must have that plummy quality that opera stars from the 50s seemed to always have. 3 Silly Girls Playing ages – 16-28. Light, bright voices – soprano or mezzo. In love with Gaston, they must work well together and bring out some differences (some dance required). 3 Silly Ladies Playing ages – 35-55. Light, bright voices – soprano or mezzo. We are adding 3 more ladies in love with Gaston for certain scenes. Why should the youngsters get all the fun?

Dates for the diary Talk-in: 31st May Rehearsals: 5th June Auditions: 24th June

Maurice Playing age – 45-65. Baritone (B to B). Kindly father figure with a bumbling nature – needs to be a strong actor. Gaston Playing age – 25-35. High baritone with a strong core sound. Low B to top F. Arrogant, self-assured with (hopefully) a good physique. Must be able to handle comedy without sinking into over-acting. Lumière Playing age – 30-50. Baritone or tenor with a clear tone (up to top F). Must be comfortable with the fake French accent! Preferably physically tall and slim – but with strong arms to cope with the flame mechanisms. A flirt but with a good heart.

Cogsworth Playing age – 40-60. Baritone Ideally a physical contrast with Lumière. Pompous, over-bearing and irritating – but still loveable! Narrator Playing age – 50-70. Strong, clear speaking voice (M or F) (dialogue only). Bookseller Playing age – 50-70. Warm, friendly stage presence (dialogue only). Solo Villagers - Men: Baker, Shepherd Boy, Hat Seller, Crony, Father. - Women: Sausage Curl Girl, Milkmaid, Lady with Cane, Aristocratic Lady, Mother. Dancing There will also be some specialist dance roles: Russian Cossack Dancers, Tumbler, Can-Can Dancers, Waltz Specialists and 6 or 8 Wolves! Helen will be setting a general movement test for all auditionees as well as a specific dance audition for those who want to be considered for those scenes. One thing I am keen to explore is the possibility of building a small team of understudies who will each cover a number of roles in the show – getting the opportunity to participate in rehearsals when the principals are absent and thus improve performance skills for future productions. It would not mean that you would be unable to take a supporting role in the cast. By the time we factor in all the crockery, cutlery and household items, we will be looking to fill around 60 roles in the production. My aim is to offer as many people as possible a chance to shine as part of this brilliant show!

Welcome our new members... Kate Wilkins

Originally from North Yorkshire, Kate studied singing with Carol Andrews of Darlington and spent many happy years performing with the National Youth Music Theatre. As an NYMT member she was part of the original cast of a musical about hormonal teenage vampires – a production which was clearly way ahead of its time! Kate first came to Oxford in 2005 to read English and Modern Languages at St. Peter’s College and was an Exhibitioner in the college choir. Productions at university include The Winter’s Tale (Paulina), The Threepenny Opera (Chorus), Carous el (Nettie), Iolanthe (Iolanthe), Death on the Nile (Cornelia); other favourite past shows include The Crucible (Abigail), The Comedy of Errors (Luciana), The

Changeling (Beatrice) and A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Titania). She has also sung the roles of Fantine in Les Misérables (in French and English) and Julie in Carousel. Kate is thrilled to be part of the Society.

Charlotte Middlebrook

under kitchen maid in Below Stairs and several small roles including Ruth the maid, one of Mr Perk’s children and a Londoner in The Railway Children. She has also been involved in several concerts and murder mysteries with the company. Charlotte is really thrilled to have become a member of Oxford Operatic Society and is really looking forward to being involved in some fabulous shows!

David Van Den Bergh

Charlotte’s love of musical theatre began at an early age. Her grandparents were founding members of Wantage Operatic Society and both her parents were members for a number of years. She would often go to see shows and was captivated by them from the start! Charlotte joined Wantage Stage Musical Company in January 2009 and played the lead role in The Boy Friend in May that year. Since then she has been involved in the chorus in Annie Get Your Gun, played a 13 year old

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Over the years David has performed in much musical theatre. Most notably playing Noel Coward in Red Hot & Cole, the Mikado in Hot Mikado and Hannah from Hamburg in La Cage au Folles (I’ve still got the whip!) Aside to acting my other passion is sport and I currently play in the Oxford City tennis club team and the St


Clements Badminton club team. I also ran in the Oxford town & gown 10k race that takes place the week before the show. When not on stage on court or on the track I am the Principal for The Eckersley school of English in the city centre which rather handily backs on to the stage door of the New Theatre so I shouldn’t be late for Millie!

Suzannah Brooksbank

Suzannah works in the rights department for a small publishing company in Oxford. Prior to this, she was a member of the female opera trio, Milan. The band travelled the world performing on cruise ships and in hotels, and even as far afield as the Henley Festival. She has been interested in the theatre from a very young age, starting at


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Welcome our new members...

the age of 3 when she attended the Harlequin School of Dancing until the age of 16. She studied English Literature and Creative Arts at the University of Portsmouth and was thoroughly involved in the music department whilst there. Over the past few years roles have included Maria in West Side Story, Fiona in Salad Days, Nancy in Oliver, Sarah Brown in Guys and Dolls, Adele in Die Fledermaus, Josephine in HMS Pinafore and Phyllis in Iolanthe.

Kath Simpson

“Whore 3”) and Jesus Christ Superstar. She was also twice a member of the choir for the televised Carols By Candlelight programme on Christmas Eve for Channel 9, Australia.

of Penzance, Me & My Girl (Bill Snibson), The Mikado, Calamity Jane, Crazy for You (Moooose), Anything Goes (Billy Crocker), Guys & Dolls and West Side Story (Jet Boy 10).

Katherine also plays guitar, bass, ukulele and sings in Melbourne band The Triangles, who had a song licensed for a beer commercial in Spain in 2010. The band was also very lucky to be flown to Spain to appear in the advertisement! Katherine looks forward to meeting some lovely new people and is very excited about being involved with OOS.

Following a three year sojourn in Stockholm he has reduced his average body temperature by 0.5C, increased his tolerance for herring (many different kinds), become rather adept at lindy hop swing dancing and talking funny (no change there then).

Ant Gibson

Now repatriated to blighty and having successfully hypnotised another audition panel, he is back in the society with a bang to try to recall how one goes about putting on a show. So have a firm hand with him, he needs a bit of disciplining!

Laura O’Mahony Katherine is delighted to join Oxford Operatic Society. Since moving from Australia to Oxford in 2010 she has been looking for a chance to get back into theatre. Back in Melbourne she performed in a handful of amateur theatre productions, including Les Misérables (in the rather memorable role of

Active in musical theatre since his schooldays, Antony has been a frequent botherer of OOS (not Oxford Ornithological Society yes it does exist) endeavours since 1998. Treading roughshod over the Oxford boards in such ventures as Pirates

Laura has been performing since the tender age of 5. She

studied vocal training under Liz Nolan and Liz Madden and was an avid member of Cantairi Oga Atha Cliath, the renowned Dublin choir under conductor Briain O’Dubhghaill. In her native Ireland she performed as Nancy in Oliver and Yum Yum in The Hot Mikado. Previous to moving to Oxford in 2011, Laura lived in Cardiff, Wales for 4 years. There she was a member of ORBIT Theatre Company where she performed in the Wizard of Oz and My Fair Lady and also played Wendy in Footloose with the Rhiwbina Amateur Theatrical Society. Laura also played Sarah Brown in Guys and Dolls and ‘Woman’ in Elegy for a Lady with the Unknown Theatre Company. She was nominated as Best Actress in the Glamorgan Drama League awards for her role as ‘Woman’ in Elegy for a Lady. Laura looks forward to many enjoyable shows with Oxford Operatic Society. Member Auditions: Do you know anyone that wants to join the society? New member auditions will be held on 29th May. Contact Palli Dent for further details.


News and events... Dogs for the Disabled - Diana & Terry

Beauty & The Beast - Ticket Booking Form

After losing our much loved Boarder Collie 'Pimms' Why not take advantage of ‘no’ booking fees by last year, we did not want to replace him straight away; if for no other reason, because of our plans for booking your tickets in advance via the Ox Ops Box Office. extensive travel in 2013. However, we missed not Ticket Type Price band having a dog around the house, so we looked into the £20.50 £22 possibility of looking after a dog for a temporary A Standard Ticket period. We discovered Dogs for the Disabled and the rest is history. Concessions: B Seniors, Students, £17.50 £19 Dogs for the Disabled is an independent charity Under 16s based near Banbury. They prepare dogs to assist £10.25 £11 people with a variety of conditions from missing limbs C Child Ticket * to autistic children who will often respond better to a dog than a human being!

'Sonic' was taken to the auditions of Thoroughly Modern Millie as he needs to experience all sorts of situations. He enjoyed the music and singing, but frankly, preferred running around the field next to Islip Village Hall!

Tuesday 27 Nov – Saturday 1 Dec 7.30pm, Sat Mat 2.30pm

Ticket Type

No. of tickets

@ Price band

£ Total Amount

A B C* *Child ticket half price with every full paying adult.

Because disability covers such a wide spectrum of needs, candidate dogs will be trained to meet the specific needs of an individual. Assistance again covers a wide spectrum from fetching things and helping with dressing and undressing to doing the shopping. Some can even operate the hole in the wall!

Grand Total


Date of performance: Name: Address:

Annual Dinner Dance Post Code: This year’s annual dinner dance will take place on Saturday 27 October at the Oxford Spires Four Pillars Tel. No. Hotel. The cost per person will be £26.95, which includes a fabulous three course dinner and groovy Email: disco. Booking forms will be circulated by email shortly and will also be available at Beauty and the Beast rehearsals. Please return this form along with an SAE and your During the evening, the annual awards will also be cheque (made out to Oxford Operatic Society) to presented including the Member of the Year. This Marilyn Moore, Beauty and the Beast Tickets, award is made to someone who, in the membership’s Courtfield House, Drayton Road, Milton, Oxon, OX14 opinion, has made an outstanding contribution to the 4EU. society over the last year. To nominate someone, please email Victoria Wilson ♫

For enquiries please call 01235 831305


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News and events... Welcome Jesse

Something Borrowed

Jesse James Hall took his very proud parents to St Martin’s Church in Bladon on 19th February for his Christening. Members of Oxford and Abingdon Operatic sang an old Rye St Antony School song 'A Little Child Will Lead You'.

Clare and Andy Wilson were married at Caswell House on a beautiful sunny day, October 28th 2011. They were joined by many fabulous friends from the Society, who performed a harmonised version of Adele’s ’Make you feel my love.’ There was not a dry eye in the house! Stages Concert Massive congratulations goes to the cast and creative team behind the Stages Concert. Many Ox Ops members were involved singing some classic songs from musicals such as Mary Poppins, Avenue Q, The Lion King and Grease, raising over £3500 for the Feldon Stroke Ward at the Royal Leamington Spa Rehabilitation Hospital.

Run Rabbit Run The Reading half marathon was successfully run by Dave Crewe, Katie Bedborough, Amy Malloy and Ed Blagrove. Very well done to all those concerned, running for very worthwhile causes. Andrew Stott was lucky enough to partake in the Olympic Park Run in March being one of the first to cross the finish line in the Olympic Stadium!

Rotary Club Concert Jen Smith was approached by the Rotary Club of Oxford Isis to take part in a charity Gala Concert on 18th February 2012. A group of 12 singers (many from Ox Ops) happily volunteered to perform in the concert. Jen said “It was great night; we had so much fun singing together. The audience really enjoyed our set and it was nice to be able to raise some money by doing something we love, performing!” The concert raised over £1,600 for Toybox, a Christian charity. Video evenings

Sad passing

What a talented bunch

Trevor Cowlett MBE

The Ox Ops committee would like to officially thank Jackie and Phil Rumsby for all their hard work in connection with staging the fabulous video evenings over the past years. These take an awful lot of organisation and sadly due to lack of numbers we’re no longer able to continue with these social evenings.

It is with much sadness that we announce the passing of J B Crawford and also Mrs Madge Lindsey. Both were very keen supporters of Oxford Operatic Society. Our thoughts are with their families.

Congratulations go to Oxford Theatre Guild (Blood Wedding), OYMT (Evita), MYCO (Anything Goes) and Abingdon Operatic Society (Crazy for You) all these recent shows involved members past and present from Ox Ops. Well done all involved!

Our heartfelt congratulations goes to Ox Ops Patron, Trevor Cowlett. He went to Windsor Castle on Friday 2 March and was presented with the MBE by the Queen. His three grandchildren who were also there were delighted and the whole family went out for a celebration lunch in Windsor afterwards.

Interview with Ron Hewitt... Ron Hewitt, the president of Oxford Operatic Society, took time out of his busy schedule for a challenging, probing and in-depth interview. Here’s what he had to say... How old were you when you started performing and when did you join the society? I auditioned for my school’s performance of Gondoliers aged about 12 but wasn’t chosen because I didn’t sing loudly enough! The war years disrupted the school’s traditional G & S productions but I emerged as a budding actor in my late teens. At medical school I had varying parts in three pantomimes and once qualified there was a long gap while I did house jobs for two years followed by two years in the Navy for National Service. When I joined a medical practice in Oxford I saw the Society’s production of Gondoliers and decided to join for the 1953 production of ‘Princess Ida’ in which I was lucky enough to play Florian.



for society’s such as ours. It is a fantastic show with great music, a great story and lots of really good roles. Have we always performed at the Playhouse or The New Theatre? No. When the Playhouse closed for renovation in the 1980s, the Society put on shows at St Edward’s School Theatre before the North Wall was built.

Which role have you most enjoyed performing?

What performer do you most admire?

What a difficult question! I have enjoyed them all including three different parts in four productions of The Yeomen of the Guard including Jack Point, twice! I loved the three Offenbach productions that the Society produced some years ago and also the more serious Herr Shultz in Caberet but if I really had to choose just one, it would have to be The Lord Chancellor in Iolanthe, a part which I was fortunate to perform in three productions for Oxford Operatic Society.

When I was younger I was a great fan of Tito Gobbi and I had the great pleasure of meeting him when he came to Jesus College to give a talk. I have also greatly admired Thomas Allen who, like Gobbi, is an especially fine actor as well as, of course, a great baritone. I am sorry to put three names forward but I must mention John Reed who was fantastic in all the G & S patter roles. I had the pleasure of lunching with him for several years when the Doyle Carte came to Oxford. He was the most marvellous story teller who recanted tales mostly about what had happened in his experiences on stage.

Has the society changed much in the time you've been a member? Enormously. In the 1950’s, the Society was emerging after the war, it was a smaller organisation with fewer members and with the odd exception, we only performed G & S. With the end of copyright for the operas, the productions became more imaginative and shows other than G & S were produced. However, the big step was taken in 1978 when the Society decided to take the plunge and produce two shows each year, If Ox Ops could put on any show, which one would you like society to perform? I would like to think that we could do Les Miserables as soon as it becomes released

Do you remember any embarrassing moments on stage? In the 1996 production of ‘Orpheus in the Underworld’, the chorus, dressed as shepherds, had to walk in a small circle with their crooks turned inwards linked together. One night an overly enthusiastic shepherd’s crook tangled with another one and the latter let go with the result that the crook went flying into the orchestra pit narrowly missing the first trumphet. Another moment that I can recall was one of my earliest parts as the Lieutenant of the Tower in The Yeomen of the Guard and I was warned to be careful not to repeat my unfortunate predecessor who burst onto the stage and sang “who shired that phot” (who fired that shot)? - First night nerves I suppose! And finally, Ron, what is your favourite kind of biscuit? Any kind that contains chocolate!

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Your Committee... Dennis Garrett - Chairman

President - Ron Hewitt Vice-President - Ann Southwell

Stephen Pascoe - Treasurer

5 Long Alley Alms Houses, St.Helens Churchyard Abingdon OX14 5EJ

32 Orchard Way Wantage Oxfordshire OX12 8ED

07879 874697

07740 948790

Marilyn Moore - Secretary

Gill Baines - Marketing Officer

Courtfield House Milton Oxfordshire OX14 4EU

27 Sutcliffe Ave Oldbrook Milton Keynes Bucks MK6 2PD

01235 831305

07921 612900

Dave Crewe - Development Officer

Andrew Stott - Communications Officer

55 Bostock Road Abingdon OX14 1DW

106 Roman Way Bicester Oxfordshire OX26 6FL

07971 004820

07775 812686

Victoria Wilson - Social Secretary

Palli Dent - Membership Secretary

11 Boswell Road Oxford OX4 3HW

46 Besselsleigh Road Wootton Abingdon Oxfordshire OX13 6DX

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May 2012  

Insight Magazine - Oxford Operatic Society

May 2012  

Insight Magazine - Oxford Operatic Society