Soham Grammarians : HMS Pinafore 1954



By Permission of


The Lass that loved a Sailor


APRIL, 1954

source: Anne Lane
please contact the editor for a
copy of the programme


Dramatis Personae;

The Rt. Hon. Sir Joseph Porter, K.C.B.
(First Lord of the Admiralty) .. D. E. MURFET
Captain Corcoran (Officer Commanding
H.M.S. Pinafore)
.. K. C. DAY
Ralph Rickstraw, A.B. .. R. S. LANE
Dick Deadeye, A.B. .. J. B. BUTCHER
Bill Bobstay (Boatswain's Mate) .. J. L. SCOTTING
Bob Beckett (Ship's Carpenter) .. T. N. G. PERRY
Josephine (The Captain's Daughter) .. C. T. GRAVES
Hebe (Cousin to Sir Joseph Porter) M. HUMAN
Mrs. Cripps (Little Buttercup, a Portsmouth
Bumboat Woman)

Sailors :
J. Eden, R. W. Kershaw, R. J. Misson, B. J. Nicholas, D. L. Phillips,
D. J. Sparkes, J. M. Watson.

First Lord's Sisters, his Cousins and his Aunts:
D. M. Blake, C. J. Collins, M. L. Everitt, V. L. Fretwell, T. W.
Meacham, J. W. Newman, T. J. Roberts, D. W. Yarrow.

Scene : Quarter Deck of H.M.S. Pinafore off Portsmouth.


Miss J. A. Darrell, Mr. A. Pusey, and Mr. A. Wills

Wardrobe Mistresses:
Mrs. E. Armitage, Mrs. I. M. Drake and Mrs. D. Drake

Decor : The Technical VI.

Set designed by: Mr. K. Drake

Set built by: Mr. E. Tabraham,
J. Aspland,
V. E. Burton,
T. R. Cooper and
T. Jordan.

Lighting: Mr. K. Webb
Make up: Mr. W. A. G. Burroughs
Stage Manager: C. W. Tassell
Producer: Mr. R. Waller
Musical Director: Mr. A. Pusey
General Manager: Mr. S. R. Saunders
Costumes by: Citizen House, Bath

Hobbs, King & Parr, Soham

John Butcher (1947) writes: HMS Pinafore was the first G&S production of the 1950s and was performed in the then Assembly Hall, otherwise known as the Conservatory.

Editor - see also Rex Waller's talk at the 2006 Dinner on how it was made easier to persuade small boys to take female roles ....

Principal characters on steps at back L-R: John Butcher, Maurice Human, David Murfet, Chris Graves, Roger Lane, John Royston, Ken Day
Male Chorus L-R:
John Eden, Roger Missen, Malcolm Watson, Richard Kershaw, Tom Perry, Bernie Nicholas, David Sparkes, D(avid?) Phillips, John Scotting
Girls chorus: perhaps they'd like to identify themselves (image source: Rex Waller)

from the Soham Grammarian Summer 1954

Pinafore 1954 backstage: L-R
(image source: Rex Waller)
Miss Darrell? - R. Sallis? - Mr Andrew Pusey - Mr SR Saunders - Charles Tassell
front row: Mr Drake - 2 - 3 - Mr Rex Waller - 5 - 6 -
Mr Ken Webb - Colin Rouse

Soham Grammarian Summer 1954


Encouraged by the success last summer of the Sixth Form Play, the School decided upon a still more daring venture, and set about a production of Gilbert and Sullivans' comic-opera, "H.M.S. Pinafore". Two or three rehearsals were held each week during two terms and the cast was efficiently trained by Mr. Pusey and Mr. Waller into the necessary state of perfection. The magnificent set designed by Mr. Drake and erected by Mr. Tabraham and the Technical Sixth created a scene both nautical and artistic; with glittering ship's bell, lifebuoys, rigging that hung down in graceful patterns, and curving stairways which gave stage movement an extra dimension, most effectively exploited by the producer. The idyllic harbour background lent colour and charm to the scene, and skilful lighting, supplied by Mr. Webb and his helpers, did much to contribute to the general effect.

Programmes were sold so rapidly that, although the opera was performed on three nights only, there would probably have been enough support for a fourth. Transport was provided from the more outlying districts, and, despite the extremely restricted space in the Hall, accommodation was arranged for as many as 200 people by Mr. Riley.

It is a difficult task to decide upon the most outstanding performer in a play in which each excelled in his own particular part, however humble. The fine singing of Day, as Captain Corcoran, made all his songs instant successes, his surpassing achievement being his most moving and finely-controlled rendering of "Fair Moon". His acting was also of a high standard, for his speeches were well-spoken and distinct, his gestures most effective, and he presented a very commanding figure altogether.

Lane, as Ralph Rackstraw, was exceedingly confident and his songs were well sung, if his top notes were occasionally somewhat perilous. Butcher, as Dick Deadeye, gave a superb portrayal of the twisted and hideous informer. His contortions were truly horrible and his scowl villainous. Although his songs were some of the most difficult in the opera, as he had to croak musically and audibly, his voice, full of contempt and spite, could always be plainly heard.

The one remaining leading male part, that of the Rt. Hon. Sir Joseph Porter, K.C.B., was taken by Murfet, whose delicious portrayal of the pompous overbearing ass was such a glorious piece of caricature that some maliciously maintained that it could only be an exaggeration of his own character. Much of the opera's humour was included in this role and Murfet added to it by ludicrous facial expressions, grandiose gestures and a quixotic bow. The outstanding success of each evening was the breathless encores of his trio with Day and Graves, during which Murfet's frenzied sprints round the back of the stage baffled the audience and exhausted himself.

Josephine, portrayed by Graves, presented an interesting psychological problem. During her solos she appeared a little timid and her songs lacked volume, but her recovery of confidence when singing with someone else was remarkable. Her voice, although apparently weakened by unrequited love, was nevertheless very good, and the success of the trio can be attributed as much to Graves as to Day or even Murfet.

Royston, as Little Buttercup, was at a disadvantage in not being able to use his full and somewhat masculine vocal powers. However, he overcame this very well and spoke and sang very clearly. He was an adept hand at ogling the Captain, and occasionally extended his amorous glances to the audience. Human, as Cousin Hebe, was a very attractive young lady. She had a very pleasing voice and it is not difficult to understand the ease with which she overcame Sir Joseph's reluctance to become betrothed to her.

It is naturally impossible to mention by name all the members of either of the choruses. Theirs was a thankless task; they had to put as much into the opera as the others but obtained none of the individual glory. However, their exceptional merit did not go unrecognised, and Perry and Scotting had their own measure of personal success, while Misson seemed to find something perpetually amusing in the whole situation. (The opera's fame spread as far as the offices of the "Saffron Walden Weekly News", which attributed its success almost entirely to the chorus and suggested that the whole company should go on tour.) Enough has already been said about the attractiveness of the charming female chorus and it only remains to congratulate the whole cast on its initiative, perseverance and final performance, and Mr. Pusey and Mr.Waller on a most vigorous and vivid production.


identifiers: Peter Roe, John Butcher
page last updated 26 Sep 2009