A Gala Evening of Gilbert and Sullivan

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September 27, 2012 by raconteurmagazine

By Ian White

On Sunday evening, I attended a fund-raising concert held at the Lawrence Batley Theatre in Huddersfield, on behalf of the local Kirkwood Hospice. The event was entitled A Gala Evening Of Gilbert And Sullivan For Kirkwood Hospice. It was an excellent production.

The compère was none other than veteran TV journalist and BBC Look North’s own Harry Gration.His introductions, anecdotes, one-liners and informative narratives were well presented and well received. This was the first time I had seen Harry live and I was thoroughly entertained; he’s a great bloke.

The musical Director, Fraser Goulding, made a very fulfilling accompaniment to the vocals solely upon his piano; negating the need for an orchestra for this particular informal presentation.

The Huddersfield Gilbert and Sullivan Society provided the backing vocalists for many of the songs in addition to a number of excellent soloists for various renditions. As a society, they perform one full orchestral operatic performance each year in addition to other performances. It is in fact their 50th anniversary next year, which is being marked by their performance of The Sorcerer again at the Lawrence Batley Theatre. You can find out more at their website; http://www.huddsgssoc.co.uk

The main quartet of professional stars in the show were Barry Clark (Tenor), Janet Cowley (Mezzo-Soprano), Bruce Graham (Baritone) and Elizabeth Menezes (Soprano). They were all truly amazing; competent, professional, enthusiastic actors to a man (and woman). Each has a respectable history within the ‘trade’ and it certainly showed.

The serious side of the event was well presented too. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the founding of Kirkwood Hospice, and in this particular year they hope to raise three million pounds to finance a new wing. The work will help to house patients, carers and family members during their direst times of need. Many varied fundraising activities are in operation and at last count, a tally of £750,000 has already been raised. Obviously more is needed and Sunday’s event was one such cause, with all profits going to the Hospice. Apart from the main event, there were other items such as the sale of books and a raffle during the interval that provided more amusement.

I myself am not usually one for the theatre (though I have been to a few professional productions over the years), but this particular event came to my wife’s attention by accident and I readily agreed to go along as it became a family night out. I am glad I did go along; apparently I had a constant smile upon my face throughout the whole excellent performance and was not disappointed in the least. Far from it, in fact I am listening to a medley of Gilbert and Sullivan songs as I write this and expect to attend a few full ‘comic operas’ in the future.

I am certain that many people have raved about the work of the two illustrious Victorian gentlemen, writer GW Gilbert and composer Arthur Sullivan, and I hope to add my voice to the throng. I have encountered their work in the past to a small degree but was probably too young or involved in other things to fully appreciate it. I can honestly recommend their work to anyone. It is very entertaining; funny, witty, cutting, melodramatic, and some of it still quite relevant in today’s day and age.

Quite fantastic.

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