Click here for some music while you browse. It will open in a new window so you can continue browsing.
Click on the links or covers below to see scans from the original programmes
As you can see, there are a lot of spaces. If you have any of the missing items, and feel so inclined, please email me and tell me about it.
I am indebted to Brian Veale who led me back to this particular track from my schooldays. I was mightily impressed by my first introduction to G & S which was held during my first term at the school and Pinafore has forever remained my favourite. I personally appeared in the chorus line of Yeomen of the Guard but somehow missed out being named in the cast list, though I do appear in the cast photograph.
"I think that Yeomen was the first in which the MD was not
Ben Rainbow (his place was taken by L W Piner when he left the school - LWP
had previously been asstant MD). Certainly the school produced a G&S in
its 4xcentenary year (1962) as I recall going back that year to see it - the
first time | had seen the new Queen's Hall, but I can't remember which show
that was. It was, I think, one of the popular ones, either Pirates or Mikado.
I am also indebted to John Saunders who has added to the list from 1956 onwards.
Peter Draper supplied me with programmes from 1949, 50, 51, and 54. Peter was a boarder at School House from 1949 to 1955.
Peter Colley sent me scans for 1965 and 1966 together with a fascinating account of his many appearances in the productions which took place during his years at RGS.
Roy Gravestock (click here to read his comments) appeared in several operettas, playing Little Buttercup in 1958, Noble in 1959, Leonard Merrill in 1962 and Dick Dauntless in 1963..
Let me know if anyone out there has any additions or corrections to this feature.
Better still - do you have copies of programmes for the missing years?
My list shows no performance for 1948 but two performances in 1949.
The date of this first production of The Gondoliers is given here as being
in March 1949 and the evidence for this is given on the inside cover of the
Programme and this was also the date given in the Fixture List of the 1948 Grey
Book. Moreover, Peter Draper took part in this
production and remembers it was held in 1949 - he had not even started at RGS
However John Saunders spotted the fact that later programmes (from 1950 onwards) claim Gondoliers as having been produced in 1948 and indeed if one reads the "Notes on Players" in the Gondoliers Programme it states "Following on from last year's Pirates.......". The first Pirates production was in 1947 so it seems the Gondoliers Notes were written in 1948 in anticipation of a December 1948 production.
One explanation might be that the Gondoliers was originally scheduled for December 1948 but was postponed for some reason until the following Spring, the original Notes being kept but with an up to date Cover.
If anyone cares to shed light on the missing 1948 production please get in touch.
Peter Colley on his Gilbert & Sullivan years
I was a boarder at School House for the duration, and saw The Gondoliers which I see is in 1961. Since (I think) I arrived at school in 1960 and The Gondoliers was the first one I saw, perhaps there was no G&S in 1960?
The Gondoliers had a profound effect on me as I have spent my adult life working
in the theatre.
I was in all the other G&S's while I was at school. Doing G&S was the high-point of my year, equal to Sports Day (my other great love at the RGS). Yeoman in 1962 was my first, you can see me in the group photo on the far left, squatting down.
Then I did Ruddigore 1963; Pirates 1964; Iolanthe 1965; Patience 1966; and
Pinafore 1967 was my swan song although I came back from University
In Iolanthe I'm 9th from the right at the back row. In the Iolanthe male chorus photo I'm at the back upper left. In Patience I'm third from the left, standing.
I was in the chorus the whole time although I was offered the lead role in Pinafore. Had it been the comic patter-song type of role I would have done it, but it was the tenor lead. I bought the record of Pinafore and tried to sing along with it but I knew in my heart that I'd have trouble hitting every note, and being a perfectionist I knew it would be a second-rate performance so I very sadly said no.
Ironically, I've done quite a lot of musical roles in professional theatre,
and in front of much bigger houses, but always character songs I could fake
my way through.
Go to Peter Colley's website
I joined RGS in 1956 and left in December 1963. To be honest, I didn't really
enjoy my time there particularly, generally keeping a low profile, doing a minimum
amount of work. The only real interest was in music, in a skiffle group (The
YZs) when I was in 3Y in Uplyme, then G & S, choir & sporadically orchestra.
My real inspiration was a wonderful music teacher called Adrian Gaster, who
taught me O-level Music in a huge group of 4! He was a music critic for a magazine
called John o' Londons and received sheaves of complimentary tickets for London
concerts, which he passed on to us. So for quite a few years I was a regular
concert goer, sometimes several times a week, at Festival Hall, Wigmore Hall,
Albert Hall etc., always of course in the best seats. The passion for music
still persists, though my working life was mainly as a teacher of Physics and
more recently I.T.
I was in the Chorus of Nobles in “The Mikado” in 1968. If memory serves, that was the last one that “Jack” Dawes did. He was replaced as head of music by Geoffrey Holmes who, I seem to recall, thought that G&S was a bit infra dig. Hence no performance in 1969.
Under pressure to bring back G&S he at first agreed to do “Trial by Jury”, as the second half of a concert.
I was in the jury and I think that must be the missing 1970 performance.
Under his direction that went very well and I think it was then a less difficult decision to mount “The Gondoliers” in the December of 1971 in which I was a Gondolier and a cardinal in the second half.
David Lowe who I remember very well as the Duke of Plaza-Toro in the Gondoliers, the judge in Trial by jury and Ko-Ko in the Gondoliers is, I notice, one of the missing Old Wycombiensians on the OW site.
Here is a memory of a G&S - I don't recall which one - the like of which I suspect you won't have come across.
You will, of course, remember that in our first year (1951) we were invited by L.Piner to audition for the Choir. I attended, full of hope, having, as I was led to believe by my family, a good voice; an opinion later confirmed by the organist at Hazlemere Church, who pressed me to join his choir, (which I never did.)
But I did better...
He had the grace to consult me, and we built the Bass. (At that time the School Workshop was still available, before it was abolished and re-fitted as a gymnasium.)
What else would you expect from a High Wycombe apprenticeship ? .
I was in my first year very quickly rejected as a prospective member of the School Choir by Bernarr Rainbow on first hearing my unbroken voice and only became associated with the Gilbert and Sullivan Productions when I was press-ganged in the Lower Sixth by the then head boy, John Carrick as there was apparently an acute shortage of tenors required for HMS Pinafore.
In my last year there was an even more desperate need to find some of the principal roles and I was remarkably chosen for the role of The Fool.
I certainly have fond memories of the RGS G&S productions. I was also responsible for the design of the Mikado programme and the lettering of HMS Pinafore. Such fame!;