FOLLOWING their success last year with The Pirates of Penzance, Christchurch Gilbert & Sullivan Society return to the Regent Centre in Christchurch with a sparkling production of Ruddigore from Thursday, September 28 to Saturday, September 30 at 7.30 pm.

It was way back in 1984 that Nigel Finch founded the Christchurch Gilbert & Sullivan Society, opening that year at the Regent with Iolanthe. The Society has gone from strength to strength ever since, producing one of the famous Savoy operas each year at the Regent, making it the longest serving local company to appear live on stage at the Centre.

The Society has performed Ruddigore, or The Witch’s Curse, in 1990 and again in 2003. It was the tenth collaboration between Sir Arthur Sullivan and W S Gilbert, out of the 14 operettas that they wrote together, and was the follow up to their jewel in the famous Savoy Operas crown, The Mikado.

Ruddigore was first performed in January 1887 at the Savoy Theatre. It is a satire on the Victorian fascination with the supernatural and their love of Gothic melodrama. It also takes a side-swipe at marriage, materialism and jingoism, with the Union Jack being used to ward off evil.

A curse has been placed over the Murgatroyd family, whereby each Baronet must commit a crime every day or die. The heir, Sir Ruthven, disguises himself as a common farmer, going under the name of Robin Oakapple. The title has therefore passed to his younger brother, the evil Sir Despard, who believes his elder sibling to be dead.

Problems ensue, when Robin’s foster brother, Dick Dauntless, returns from a triumphant encounter with a French frigate, a part of the plot which nearly caused a real life diplomatic incident, as Le Figaro proceeded to defend injured Gallic pride in its review.

Robin and Dick greet each other warmly and catch up on events. Robin tells Dick of his love for Rose Maybud, a local lass, but his shyness prevents him from proclaiming his true feelings for her. Dick offers to help by wooing her by proxy for him. However, egged on by a group of out of work bridesmaids looking for employment, Dick wins Rose for himself.

Meanwhile, Sir Despard has decided that his crime of the day will be to abduct Rose, thus complying with the famous Murgatroyd curse. Dick realises that if he unmasks Robin as the true Baronet, Sir Despard will leave Rose alone and he, Dick, will still be able to marry her.

Robin is thus left alone with the curse and only the ghosts of his ancestors, the previous Baronets, for company. The ghosts gloat over Robin and goad him into committing his daily crimes.

Will true love win through in the end? It takes an ingenious piece of Gilbertian logic to save Robin from his fate, reunite the young lovers and terminate this topsy-turvy tale to the satisfaction of all!

Amongst the many musical highlights are My Eyes Are Open To My Awful Situation, Hail The Bridegroom, Hail The Bride, My Boy You Can Take It From Me and Sullivan’s brilliant When The Night Wind Howls. This was written especially for the ghost scene, and is a parody of Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries.

Regent, Christchurch

01202 499199



TIME : 7.30 PM



& their 16 piece Orchestra