GILBERT & SULLIVAN WEEKEND
A Brief History
At My Fair Lady, Felton Music’s first event, people were invited to suggest things they’d like to see happening. Several were interested in doing some Gilbert and Sullivan. Leaping into a full scale production seemed too ambitious, so we tried a low-key approach - putting together an unstaged performance for our own entertainment. We were helped greatly by the prior experience of many of the participants, some of whom had lots of Gilbert and Sullivan under their belts. Others had never done anything like it before. Four instrumentalists joined our in-house keyboard players to enrich the accompaniment.
Friends and family were allowed to come to the run through. Feelings changed from deep anxiety as we tried out the songs for the first time on the Friday evening to excitement as we realised that with a bit of editing and a great narrative written by Chris Jones, we could bring The Mikado to life by Sunday teatime.
It was such fun working as a team for the weekend, that we decided on the spot to do another one, and apply the lessons we’d learned from our first shot.
Summer 2017 - Pirates of Penzance
Which led to an even larger gathering meeting in the Village Hall on Friday June 30, clutching their Pirates of Penzance scores and assorted parrots, eye patches, hats and helmets. Over 30 people sang and the band grew by one player. Singers chose to be in one of two teams, pirates and policemen or maidens to give us a realistic chance of becoming comfortable enough with all the music. Saturday morning was nearly an even bigger challenge than anticipated, as the village had a power cut (we're heavily dependent on electronic keyboards for accompanying), but, just in time, we were reconnected and a very busy day began.
The larger group spread the load more, and confident, experienced singers supported others who, initially, weren't so sure. On these weekends, it's always OK to sing the tune, but we had lots of harmony going on too. By the end of Saturday we were sung out, but came back fresh on Sunday for the last practices and preparation, leading to an amazingly good show in the afternoon.
Summer 2018 Patience
By 2018 we felt we had really got into the swing if it and applied the Felton formula to Patience. A slightly smaller team this time – lots of people were away, so the ladies cast aside their love-sick swooning to sing along with the Dragoons and the latter stepped up to supplement the women.
We approached Iolanthe over the last weekend in April with well-founded confidence. There's an established core team and a structure to the weekend, so we started off knowing we were going to be able to make something happen.
Once again a small enough group for everyone to feel closely involved, we all sang all the chorus parts, doffing and un-doffing wings and coronets to help the audience understand what was going on. It was striking this year how people were so much quicker at learning the songs, and more ready to step forward and take on a solo – even in a twosome.
The band was brilliant as ever, and our repetiteur's fingers lasted out the weekend despite a sticky key. And we all had such fun. Anything goes in the Felton Music G and S. Some people couldn't make the performance but enjoyed coming to the rehearsals. Others joined at the last moment.
It looks as though we may do Trial by Jury in 2020. The whole show! (It's a one-acter). Make contact to ensure you are consulted about which weekend we should use and whether we should start the performance just a little later on the Sunday afternoon.