COX and Box, a pocket opera by Gilbert and Sullivan, at Witham this week, is an old-fashioned miniature attractively framed by director Derek Collins. Nicholas Clough (Cox), George Fardell (Box) and Tony Wood (Bouncer) brilliantly bring to life the little story that has become a household phrase in our language.
Musical Director Gareth Dallender-Jones and his orchestra co-operate fully and it appears as a little gem of theatre craft, only to be improved by a dingier and dirtier setting of the Victorian lodging occupied by clay and night.
Witham Operatic Society's main item, The Sorcerer, also had a charm all its own. True, the company had to wade knee-deep through a morass of W. S. Gilbert's most turgid terminology lacking most of the ﬂashes of wit displayed in his other works but most of the players coped eloquently.
Sullivan's music spread the strawberry jam to sweeten the supernatural tale of the magician who brought passion to Plover1eigh. It was vigorously sung by the lively chorus who will soon be looking out for many more men to join them in the forthcoming Oklahoma - individual voices that charmed the ear belonged to Helene Jones (Constance) Patsy Doy (Aline) and Simon Mitchell (Alexis).
Producer Derek Collins brought some of his own magic to bear on Dr Daly, Nicholas Clough aged instantly to become a very digniﬁed Sir Marmaduke and Janet Collins followed his example as a Lady of Ancient Lineage. As Mrs Parlet, a pew opener, Rita Page also contributed to this idea of senior citizenship and Edward Maltby ﬁnally won the game with his decrepit Notary.
But Stewart Adkins deﬁed convention and successfully blew the dust off the old manuscript by making sorcerer John Wellington Wells an ebullient Cockney spiv with an American Express card in his pocket. Do grab a seat at one of the remaining performances this week and have a nice day!
Cast: Sir Marmaduke Pointdextre (an elderly Baronet) Nicholas Clough;
Alexis (of the Grenadier Guards - his son) Simon Mitchell;
Lady Sangazure (a Lady of Ancient Linage) Janet Collins;
Aline (her daughter — betrothed to Alexis) Patsy Doy;
John Wellington Wells (of 1. W. Wells & C0, Family Sorcerers) Stewart Adkins;
Dr Daly (Vicar of Ploverleigh) Derek Collins;
Mrs Parlet (a pew opener) Rita Page;
Constance (her daughter) Helene Jones;
Notary Edward Maltby.
Chorus of villagers: Kathryn Adkins, Lara Barber, Alison Brewer, ]anice Hawkes, Clare Lager, Cynthia Meek, Yvonne Mitchell, Anne Sheppard, Mandy Smith, Kate Stevenson, Carole Turner, Christine Willetts, Jo Wood, Geoff Coverdale, Richard Enfield, Brian Henderson, Ron Howe, Ernest Law, Malcolm Lowe, Tony Wood.
Backstage: Producer: Derek Collins.
Musical director: Gareth Dallender—]ones.
Stage Manager: Audrey King. Technical Director: Ken Hawkes.
Stage Crew: Les King, Derek Hunt, Mick Adams, David Hunt, Jim Fensom, Philip Harris, David Knight.
Properties: Ann Hunt,
Sonya Carter, Eve Knight.
Lighting: Robin Dedman.
Wardrobe: Nesta Hinchliffe, Pat Briggs
Make-Up: June Smith, Lucy Sheppard.
Prompt: Kath Adams.
Manager: John Gunson.
Programmes: June Locke.
Orchestra: Betty Smith, Sheila Norman, Ken Tollope, Keith Radley, Peter Belsham, Judy Harris, Ruth Harris, Robin Harris, Alison Mabbott, Katie Brown, Nicholas Harris Robert Lindsell, Susan Turner, Ken Steward, David Bentley, Steven Whyborn, Lesley Fowler, Geoff Trim, Malcolm Browning.