MUGSS 1979


or The Witch's Curse
Performed at The Renold Theatre, UMIST


Sir Ruthven Murgatroyd (Known as Robin Oakapple)
David Chard
Richard Dauntless (His foster-brother)
Andrew Lane
Sir Despard Murgatroyd (A wicked baronet)
David Elder
Adam Goodheart (Robin's Servant)
Tony Royle
Rose Maybud (A village maid)
Susan Burgess
Mad Margaret
Alison Bastow
Dame Hannah (Rose's Aunt)
Liz Humphries
Zorah (A professional bridesmaid)
Susan Johnson
Helen Bailey
Sir Roderick Murgatroyd (A former baronet)
David Park
Chorus of Young City Gentlemen and Ancestors
Robert Ames, John Bampton, Tony Bogod, David Bolton, Andy Booth, Mike Harris, Anthony Hatton, Pete Hick, Mark Higgins, John Humphreys, Pete McCarthy, Paul Middlemas, Steve Moore, Andrew Sutcliffe, Jim Symcox, Joe Zserdicky
Chorus of Bridesmaids and Villagers
Christina Ames, Isobel Astley, Jane Bulley, Philippa Chard, Suzie Clegg, Penny Coleman, Marguerite Dalton, Elizabeth Geard, Hilary Carlisle, Roo Gill, Lindsay Hardman, Elaine Harris, Julie Jessop, Sue Jeynes, Anne Knowles, Patricia Lord, Marion Lumb, Ruth Parrett, Jane Roberts, Jane Rodman, Ann Royle, Lorna Sireling, Patricia Smales, Carole Tonge, Susan Turner, Elizabeth Ward


John Humpreys
Musical Director
John E. Bethell
James D.N. Worth
Stage Manager
Ken Masterton
Lighting Supervisor
Isobel Astley
Orchestra Manager
Sue Jeynes
Rehearsal Accompanists
David Littley, Mike Harris
Wardrobe Supervisor
Isobel Astley
Front of House
David Littley
Publicity Officer
Jane Bulley
Business Manager
Colin Price
Assistant Business Manager
Philippa Chard
Programme Cover Design
James D.N. Worth
Poster Design
Susan Johnson
Costumes from
S.B. Watts


David Chard
Tony Bogod
Sue Jeynes
Jane Bulley
Social Secretary
David Park
Ordinary Members
Susan Johnson, John Humphreys


The Story of the Opera

In the reign of James I, there lived in Cornwall Sir Rupert Murgatroyd, first Baronet of Ruddygore, who had a penchant for witch-hunting. One day as a victim burned at the stake, she cursed him and all his line: each baronet must commit one crime every day or die in excruciating agony.
An interesting feature of Rederring in Cornwall is a corps of professional bridesmaids and as the curtain rises nothing could be further from their minds than Sir Despard Murgatroyd, the wicked local squire. Instead, they are concerned about the recent lack of village weddings and the consequent threat of redundancy. Rose Maybud, the prim and proper village beauty, is the most eligible girl but, according to Dame Hannah, she dislikes all the local youths except Robin Oakapple, Despard's elder brother and rightful heir to the Ruddygore estate who, to escape the curse, has lived for twenty years disguised as a simple farmer.
Robin loves Rose but is far too timed to approach her so he enlists the support of his bold foster-brother, Richard Dauntless, who agrees to woo her 'by proxy'. Inevitably, Richard himself falls in love with Rose and the two lifelong friends suddenly find themselves rivals.
Mad Margaret now appears and warns of the approach of Sir Despard (whom she loves) and his evil crew. When they have duly arrived, Richard spitefully betrays 'Robin' to Despard and Sir Ruthven Murgatroyd is obliged to belatedly inherit both the title and its attendant curse.
One week later, in the picture gallery of Ruddygore Castle, the good-natured Ruthven is finding crime difficult. Richard and Rose arrive seeking formal consent to their marriage which he reluctantly gives. He then resolves to defy the curse whatever the outcome. This prompts and spectacular coup-de-theatre with a demonstration of the pains which befall Murgatroyds who omit their daily crime. Ruthven is thus tortured into agreeing to abduct a lady, which deed his valet is duly sent to accomplish.
Despard and Margaret now appear, evidently reformed characters, and Ruthven, vacillatory as ever, once again decides to defy the curse. Meanwhile the abducted lady has arrived and is none other than Dame Hannah.
This is an embarrassing situation which becomes, in turn, dangerous and then nostalgic. Finally, when Ruthven discovers a convenient legal loophole (which, incidentally, has not applied since the Suicide Act of 1961) all is set for a happy ending.
Colin Price.

Notes on the Opera

The original production of "The Mikado" (March 1885 - January 1887) was a spectacular success and it was inevitable that whatever followed would be regarded as an anti-climax. When "Ruddygore", the tenth Gilbert and Sullivan opera, opened at the Savoy Theatre on 22nd January, 1997, it was not well received. Both audience and critics made unfavourable comparisons with its predecessor and the two disappointed creators made immediate alterations to the plot and music. Even the title, which simply meant 'red blood', offended Victorian taste and was modified to "Ruddigore".
This opera lacks the powerful satire for which Gilbert was noted. Instead of the usual slanted look at the Victorian Establishment we have in "Ruddygore" an exaggerated example of that popular nineteenth century entertainment, the melodrama. And it has all the essential ingredients - a lunatic, wicked baronets, even ghosts; seen as Gilbert intended, a parody rather than serious melodrama, it is brilliant.
Sullivan's music, by no means his best, nevertheless has its fine moments. Listen out for the superb madrigal in the Act 1 finale and, in Act 2, note the clever orchestration in Sir Roderic's song "When the night wind howls". The trio "My eyes are fully open" is widely regarded as Sullivan's best patter-song and was described by the music critic Dunhill as a "Mendelssohn scherzo set to voices."
In 1887, "Ruddygore" ran for only 9 months and was not revived by D'Oyly Carte until 1921. Had it come just before, rather than just after "The Mikado" it might have done much better. Today, we can see the whole Gilbert and Sullivan canon in perspective and can better appreciate the qualities of this increasingly popular Savoy opera.
Colin Price.


Sally A. Burns
Hilary Carlisle
Veronica Clark
Nick Gibbs
Debi Johnson
Mr. & Mrs. F. Johnson
Susan Johnson
Deborah Jones
Andrew Lane
Nancy Lofting
Mr. & Mr. N. Mitchell
Patricia Needham

Honorary Patrons

Baron Hailsham
The Former Lord Bishop of Manchester, the Rt. Rev. P.C. Rodger
Dr. Isaac Asimov
Patrick Moore, O.B.E.
Stanford Robinson, O.B.E.
Alexander Young

Programme advertisers

Owenspark Delicatessen
Jamal's Wine Bar
Ice cream supplied by Willcocks
H&H, Haigh and Hochland Ltd, University, Foreign and Scientific Booksellers.
Endsleigh motor Insurance
Nino Milano Hair and Beauty Sutdio
Delta Travel
The Yeomen of th Guard (concert performance) at Queen Elizabeth Hall, Oldham on Sunday 6th May, 1979 at 8.00 p.m.

Dates of performances

13-17th March 1979 at 7.30 p.m.

Donations and assistance

The Society gratefully acknowledges the generous donations and assistance from the following:-
Mallinson Denny (Timber), Chaddock Lane, Worsley;
George Hill (Oldham) Ltd. (Timber), Warehouse, Off Glebelands Rd., Sale;
J. & D. Raynes and Sons (Timber), Lissadel St, Frederick Rd, Salford;
Top Deal Timber Centre, Hartington Road, Broad Heath, Altrincham;
Hope's Hardware, 238 Wilmslow Road, Fallowfied, M14;
The University of Manchester Department of Drama


Complete recordings of this show (and all from 1964 onwards) can be purchased on CD from Mike Harris, our Society Archivist