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About Buxton or Bust

So, Buxton Or Bust, where did that come from?

Perhaps it would help if I told you a little about myself, Margaret Amey and why I wrote the show.

This is a photograph of me in Yeomen Of The Guard when I was singing with Southampton Operatic Society and, in this case, playing Phoebe. I started singing, according to my mother before I started talking. My first foray, along with many people of my generation into Gilbert and Sullivan was at school. I can remember singing with the school choir, aged seven or so, in a school concert where we sang A Wandering Minstrel I and I believe from that time on I was hooked.

Over the years I’ve been lucky enough to sing most of the soubrette parts in Gilbert and Sullivan along with a few of the alto leads. As the societies I have belonged to have performed the work of other writers I have had the great  pleasure of singing, amongst others, Offenbach’s Eurydice, John Gay’s Lucy Lockit,  Lehár’s Merry Widow and Bizet’s Carmen; one of my proudest moments was when I sang Carmen at the Mayflower Theatre in Southampton in front of my parents.

My husband, Neal (who is the rock that keeps me grounded and strong in life and an all round great husband) and I moved to Bexhill-on-Sea eighteen years ago where I joined Battle Light Operatic Group. Again I have been very lucky with the parts I have been offered and then I gradually moved over to directing shows as well as singing in them.

With the winning of a NODA award for a production of Pirates of Penzance (picture) I was offered the chance to direct shows of my choice. The world was my oyster. I went through all my Gilbert and Sullivan favourites (that’s all their shows) and tried to settle on one but found, for various reasons not one appealed to me at he time.
With the audience for Gilbert and Sullivan show apparently shrinking and the need to make at least a small profit it seems companies are reduced to performing the same, popular shows. Younger performers or those new to light opera seem to have the idea that G&S is boring, out-of-date and not entertaining. How wrong can they be? However the truth is that if we don’t encourage and entice performers and audiences and performers alike I fear a great British and indeed world-wide theatrical tradition will be lost.

It’s at this point that I need to introduce my other life, my professional life, because it has a direct impact on my choosing of a show to direct in Battle.

I have been for over 35 years a special needs teacher. By dint of a lack of resources, particularly at the beginning of my career, I have always written stories and plays for children. Recently I have written musical shows and taught Drama to children and young people with a variety of disabilities aged seven to twenty. I have always involved young performers in the shows I have directed and believe whole-heartedly in the power of education and preparing children not just for work but for life. That includes offering them a variety of opportunities to continue to be involved in performing throughout into adulthood.

I have to say I have found it a real joy to be involved in creating and writing shows and so it was that I found myself at a friend’s Christmas party announcing that I couldn’t find a show I wanted to direct so I was writing my own! I hadn’t even had a drink. I think it was a way of forcing myself to commit to this mad idea I had that by invoking my love and knowledge of the work of Gilbert and Sullivan I could, perhaps, encourage others to join in my enjoyment and passion.

I have to say I am one of those writers who are inspired to write by an idea. To be honest I am often amazed at what I manage to get onto the page and will agree with others that the characters write themselves. Thus it was that I found myself shaken awake at three in the morning by a need to write lines of libretto or inspired by an idea at 2 a.m. that led to the inclusion of a favourite song and a new character. The show has been ‘under construction’ for eighteen months now but the basic script was created in a mad, frantic three week period that left me tired out and somewhat confused.

From these early morning scribblings came a show partly inspired by our visits to the Gilbert and Sullivan Festivals at Buxton, modern issues of property development and experiences with Health and Safety.

Buxton Or Bust was the first title we thought of but when the festival moved to Harrogate we cast around for other ideas. It was like trying on a variety of new clothes, looking at them in the mirror and, as often happens returning to the first outfit we liked. The alliteration works well and Buxton Or Bust or BOB, as it has become known amongst the knowledgeable and supportive group that has been a sounding board for show, was the favourite.

The question is can Lord Simon get the company to
The Gilbert and Sullivan Festival?
Or will

  • A Health and Safety Officer
  • A Property Developer and
  • A Chorus of unruly ghosts

stop him?

Buxton Or Bust was created to fulfil several criteria close to the heart of most musical and operatic societies.

It should be:

  • - Cheap to perform; costumes and props should be readily available and often ‘in stock’

  • - Music is for a reduced band of instruments. The music has been arranged by the well-known G&S arranger Martin Paterson of Pattersong Music and our own Musical Director Duncan Reid

  • - The characters offer opportunities for both younger and more mature performers

  • - There are lots of chorus numbers which include some of the most popular songs

  • - The words to the songs are generally as written by W.S. Gilbert

Buxton Or Bust offers layers of involvement and over the next weeks the website will include information about the premiere of Buxton Or Bust and loose outlines of the characters. As a new show there are no pre-conceived ideas about who and how to play the roles. The outlines offer some glimpses of the plot and, if you know your G&S, you may well be able to anticipate some of the songs each character sings. It will also offer photos of the show in rehearsals, information about how to get tickets and how to perform the show yourself.

Please feel free to email me at If you have any ideas or thoughts of ways to get more people involved I would love to hear from you.

Yeomen Of The Guard

Orpheus In The Underworld

The Pirates of Penzance

The Pirates of Penzance


Die Fledermaus

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The Pirates of Penzance