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Rave reviews for Quinton amateurs' 1980 Gilbert and Sullivan show

By Black Country Bugle  |  Posted: December 13, 2013

By Dan Shaw

  • Roy Parkes (back row, second right) in the 1980 production of The Gondoliers by Quinton Operatic Society at the Old Repertory Theatre, Birmingham

  • The chorus from The Gondoliers. Margaret and Roy Parkes are at the far right of the third row

  • Programme from the Quinton Operatic Society's 1980 production of The Gondoliers

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THESE colourful pictures take us back 33 years to the Quinton Operatic Society's 1980 production of The Gondoliers and they come from the collection of Margaret Parkes of Tividale.

You may recall that earlier this year we printed some of Margaret's pictures of productions by the Tube Investments Operatic Society.

Margaret joined the accounts department of Accles and Pollock on leaving school at 14 and two years later she joined the works amateur operatic group. She worked at A&P until she got married to Roy Parkes, who worked for Stewarts and Lloyds, and left to start a family, returning to the accounts department when her children were of school age.

Margaret, Roy and their son David, took part in many TIOS shows and they were also members of the Quinton Operatic Society.

The QOS was founded in 1967 and met for regular rehearsal at Quinton Parish Hall. Its president was Rev J.R. Hawkins and its patron was Jill Knight, MP for Birmingham Edgbaston from 1966 to 1997.

The Gondoliers is a popular comic opera by Arthur Sullivan and W.S. Gilbert, first staged at London's Savoy Thatre in December 1889. The plot revolves around a young prince becoming confused with a Ventian gondolier on the eve of his wedding.

Probably the best known song from the opera is Take a Pair of Sparkling Eyes.

For the QOS 1980 production the main cast was as follows:

Keith Harrison (Duke of Plaza-Toro), Neil Fletcher (Luiz), Gordon Lee (Don Alhambra del Bolero), Derek Kingston (Marco Palmieri), Michael Harrold (Giusseppe Palmieri), Dennis Pike (Antonio), Mark Deeley (Francesco), Roger Hewitson (Giorgio), Megan Harrold (Duchess of Plaza-Toro), Janet Harrison (Casilda), Ann Holden (Gianetta), Diane Parkes (Tessa), Patricia Kynoch (Fiametta), Patricia Ford (Giulia), Sue Round (Vittoria), Patricia Dixon (Inez) and David Palser (drummer boy).

They were joined in the chorus by Glenyss Akers, Jennifer Baggs, Nora Barton, Valerie Billington, Jo Chilton, Sandra Dudley, Jane Garvey, Sue Harrison, Nicola Harrold, Glynis Hawkes, Robinia Higgins, Maureen Higgs, Rebecca Higgs, Maureen Jones, Margaret Parkes, Carole Scadding, Judith Rudge, Betty Taylor, Claire Taylor, George Deeley, Charles Hastings, John Leaman, Roy Parkes, Leslie Philpott, Jonathan Scadding, Ray Taft, Leslie Taylor, Gerald Turner and Bob Willetts.

Behind the scenes were: Sonia Williams (director), William Rogers (musical director), Janet Watson (accompanist) Hilda Adderley (choreography) Peter Twist (stage director), Lawrence Garvey (stage manager), Jennifer Moss (assistant stage manager), Bryan Palser (house manager), Joan Deeley (prompt), Brian and June Brownhill (props), Sylvia Ewins (wardrobe), Bert Hadley (stage door) and Janet Watson (cast call boy). Music was by the Frederick Kendall Theatre Orchestra led by Winifred Farman.

Ray Bowling in the County Express gave the production a glowing revue:

"Quinton Operatic Society's standards seem to get higher and higher each year, and it's been more evident since they moved their annual production to the stage of the Old Repertory Theatre in Birmingham's Station Street.

"The advantages of being able to use the Rep's excellent stage facilities, instead of having to adapt to the stage of a local school hall for each production, has no doubt accounted for the professionalism that is now a hallmark of their shows. The costuming of The Gondoliers was something truly exceptional. It was the first time the costumes had been worn and Sonya Williams who directed had had a great deal of influence in the choice of colours.

"The result was a quality show in every sense.

"Keith Harrison as the Duke of Plaza-Toro couldn't put a foot wrong in the part. In fact, his dapper footwork caught the eye on more than one occasion, and it was his sense of timing, gesture and mannerism that portrayed the comic courtly character perfectly.

"Megan Harrold as the duchess who is so insistent on decorum and dignity at all times was equally convincing, and Janet Harrison gave a charming portrayal of the daughter of the impoverished duke.

"Lively performances by Ann Holden and Diane Parkes as Gianetta and Tessa were matched by Derek Kingston and Michael Harrold, playing the two gondoliers who are at the centre of the enigma of who is the rightful claimant to the throne.

"A powerful study of the awesome Grand Inquisitor was given by Gordon Lee, who had a commanding presence on stage, and Neil Fletcher as the duke's attendant was also impressive.

"Other parts were taken with credit by: Dennis Pike, Mark Deeley and Roger Hewitson (gondoliers), Patricia Kynoch, Patricia Ford and Sue Round (contadine), Patricia Dixon (the king's foster mother) and David Palser drummer boy).

"Sustained applause at the end of the first night's performance underlined the acting and musical success of the show and the sterling contribution of William Rogers (musical director) and orchestra."

Were you a member of a Black Country amateur operatic or dramatics group? Have you memories and pictures to share with Bugle readers? Contact dshaw@blackcountrybugle.co.uk or write to our editorial address.

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