Operettas are still hitting right note

Penwortham St Leonards Gilbert and Sullivan Group
Penwortham St Leonards Gilbert and Sullivan Group

The catchy tunes of Gilbert and Sullivan’s songs remain firmly in the heads of Penwortham St Leonard’s group members.

Penwortham St Leonard’s Gilbert and Sullivan Group was founded in 1978 by the then vicar Tom Taylor and a small group of enthusiastic locals.

Penwortham St Leonards Gilbert and Sullivan Group

Penwortham St Leonards Gilbert and Sullivan Group

Each year since then the group has performed one of the G&S operettas each May with an invited orchestra.

Last year members celebrated the momentous occasions that they were able to complete the full set of their operettas when they performed excerpts from The Grand Duke alongside their main production for that year, HMS Pinafore.

John Stopford, spokesman for the group, says: “The joy of Gilbert and Sullivan lies in the satire and wit of Gilbert in combination with the exquisite melodies of Sullivan.

“The plots are often absurd, but why let sense stand in the way of a good tune and funny lyrics?

“Our members claim that they always leave rehearsals in a better frame of mind for having had a good sing.

“A word of warning though – it can be difficult to get those tunes out of your head.

“It was well over 100 years ago that the G&S operettas were written and they are still being performed all over the country by groups such as ours.”

There are at present about 30 members who meet at Penwortham St Leonard’s Church Hall on Fridays at 7.30pm for rehearsals.

Members had historically were presented their shows at Penwortham St Mary’s Church Hall .

But last year, due to the closure of that building, they relocated to Leyland Methodist Church Hall, Turpin Green, Leyland.

They will be showcasing Iolanthe from Wednesday, May 24, to Saturday, May 27, at 7.30pm.

John adds: “Sullivan’s music in this operetta is particularly fine and Gilbert is aiming his satirical dart at Parliament and the House of Lords.

“At present, of course we are involved with rehearsals for Iolanthe and we are delighted this year to be joined by a number of girls from Middleforth Primary School, in Penwortham, who are going to be young fairies or pierrettes.

“They seem to be thoroughly enjoying themselves singing and dancing and are getting excited about the show in which they are going to take part.

“We feel an obligation to pass the joy of G&S on to younger people and we will be recruiting next year for singers of all ages when we perform The Yeomen of the Guard as our main show.

“After the main show we spend our Friday evenings rehearsing for our concert season in the autumn.

“We usually do about five concerts at various locations. We sing some G&S but we also include an eclectic mix of other stuff, including four-part harmonies and some solos.

“In recent years our concerts have been in the form of Sunday afternoon tea sessions – teas being provided by the venue at which we are performing. Don’t ask me which one is the best – I couldn’t possibly comment.

“Charities benefit from our shows and concerts.

“Each year the group supports two charities and monies raised from the raffles on show night are equally shared.

“Although the group does make a charge, which covers music expenses, the concerts will raise funds for the charity concerned.

“You do not need to be an accomplished singer or musician to join us at St Leonard’s or even be able to read music.

“Our musical directors are wonderfully patient and start from scratch when we begin a new piece. Do come to Iolanthe to see the show and give us a try.”

Tickets, at £9, can be obtained by calling 01772 612030.