Tel: 01424 842191

So, you are interested in joining us?

Now how much to tell you without launching a spoiler and giving away the plot, which in true Gilbertian style is fun, involved and slightly ridiculous. The audience will have to suspend their belief whilst you, dear performer, will use all your skills to enable them to believe in every word.

It almost goes without saying that the music is great. There are some of the best of Gilbert and Sullivan’s songs; chosen for their beauty and fun -both to listen to and sing. The only inhibitor was that they should fit the plot, hence, despite much trying on my part, no Mad Margaret.
Speaking of Mad Margaret (obviously a part written for me) this is a new, one-off company created solely to perform Buxton Or Bust. The name of this company? Mad Margaret’s Minstrels or Poor Peg’s Players perhaps. Ideas please. You will find a company of likeminded people who enjoy singing and performing who want to have fun and create a great new show.

The characters are yours to mould and make in your imagination’s image. Let me give you a peak at them. A little glimpse into my production folder where you can learn about some of the characters but, sorry, no peeking at the songs. There are a lot of characters and all bar five are also members of the choruses. (There are two choruses, one of fleshy mortals and one of ghosts.) The chorus is very important and all will have characters to create and build on.

The plot

So, to whet you interest-but not give too much away. The plot is typically complicated but here are some highlights and must-knows!

- The show takes place backstage at a production of Pirates of Penzance.
- The audience finds a village theatre fallen on hard times.
- The company’s benefactor, Lord Simon, has just spent the last of the company’s bank balance on fulfilling the requirements of a rather scary Health and Safety Officer, Katya. He has purchased some new seats and a lighting rig to gain the “H&S license to perform Section 2”.
- Much rides on the company having a successful show and getting into the Gilbert and Sullivan Festival in Buxton (yes, I know it is now Harrogate. A change I may make).
- We soon meet Wilf, once a much-admired tenor (now more of a baritone). Wilf is very keen on ‘feisty’ women and Katya is one of the feistiest women he has ever met.
- The eavesdropping Ghosts of Performances Past, who live in the theatre, fearing for the future of their home, decide to threaten Lord Simon until he agrees to do whatever is necessary to save the theatre. In this case he must marry Katya the Heath and Safety Officer.
- At this point it is worth mentioning that all the ghosts (and most of you will get to be a ghost) have previously lived in the village and performed in the village productions of Gilbert and Sullivan’s shows. (Fabulous chance for dressing up!)
- One of the ghosts is Sam from a previous performance of Pirates. This ghostly version has become the foil to a puppet parrot and together they roam the stage to comic effect and engage in some plot manipulation.
- Unknown to the ghosts or Lord Simon, a plot to close the theatre and sell the land for development has been hatched by Lord Simon’s daughter, Rose Maybud. It was she and her two co-conspirators who called the HSE. They are also trying to destroy the show by one of their number, Florian, who is taking the part of the Pirate King and systematically ruining the show from the ‘inside’.
- As the plot develops we realise that love is going to guide the characters, the plot and, of course, the music.
- Though Katya is keen to marry Lord Simon we learn Lord Simon himself has, since a performance in his youth of The Gondoliers, been in love with a simple village girl, now the wealthy widow, Lady Joan Sanguazure.  In a conversation, overheard only by the audience, the lead ghosts, Lord Simon’s Grandparents, Lady Amarylis and Lord Reggie, speak of their regret that, on the very morning of the wedding they lied to the young couple and stopped Simon and Joan marrying each other.
- Further romance is blossoming as we learn that the only reason Strephon, the third character who is trying to close the theatre, is involved only because he is madly in love with, to be honest, the most unpleasant Rose Maybud. Strephon is also Lady Joan’s son.
- Florian, playing the failing Pirate King, has fallen for Zara who is playing his love interest, Edith in Pirates. Though interested in him she finds his poor performance most unattractive.
- When the property developers find their use of the Health and Safety Executive to close the theatre has been scuppered, they steal the new seats and lighting rig from Wilf’s locked store room.
- It is after the theft that Zara announces that she is the local Sergeant of Police.
- At the end of Act 1 Katya returns to claim Lord Simon or the “H&S license to perform Section 2” amid some rousing Gilbert & Sullivan singing.
- At the beginning of Act 2 Lord Simon explains to the company about the current financial difficulties and the ghosts reappear to threaten Lord Simon as he slumbers in his stage bed.
- Lady Joan leads the three would-be property developers on stage to return the stolen items. Developers and Ghosts (unseen) mingle on stage at cross purposes
- As Lord Simon contemplates marriage to Katya, Lady Jane overhears his soliloquy and (obviously) imagines he is talking about her and in a most rude and unloving way.
- All might have remained quiet if it wasn’t for Wilf who, discovering the theft calls Zara and her police team.
- The end, as in all Gilbert and Sullivan stories, is swift and perfect.
- The two Grandparent ghosts accept their mistake and own up to the lies they told so many years ago. Lord Simon and Lady Joan realise that they are still in love and decide to marry.
- This time since Lady Joan is the richer partner by far, her dowry will be the funds to save the theatre that they and the villagers so love.
- Katya comes on stage and is horrified to see the middle-aged lovers leave arm in arm. As she bewails her luck Sam Parrot serenades her and, in order to save his beloved theatre and village, Wilf sings to her of his passion for all things scary, including her.
- In light of their parents deciding to marry Strephon and Rose Maybud realise the plot to sell the theatre is over. They too have been in love since Nursery School and decide to marry at once or at least attend the after show party.
- Teased by his friends and informed of the change of circumstance, Florian realises he no longer needs to perform so badly and is now free to attract the lovely Sergeant Zara. His first action is to ‘find’ the stolen property. He then proceeds to tell her of his feelings and the pair agree to go to the after show party together.
- As the beautiful strains of the Finale to Act 2 of Pirates of Penzance is heard off stage the banquet is prepared to celebrate at the end of show party.
- Not only can Lord Simon celebrate his forthcoming marriage but also report on a sell out show and acceptance at the Buxton Gilbert and Sullivan Festival. Singing and dancing breaks out and the show finishes on a high to take both audience and performers home.


I have peppered the storytelling with a few very oblique hints and some outright naming of the songs. There are 30 G&S songs in the show this includes one complete finale and parts of three others. All except The Grand Duke is musically represented. The songs have been included mostly as they were written with a few word changes here and there. Only two songs have had words changed totally and one of them is Little List (damn, I’ve given another away!).

If you would like to know more, watch this space, more information will be ‘leaked’ over the coming months. Ring me for a chat on 01424 842191 (evenings) or e-mail me on

Dates for your diary.

There will be a familiarisation probably in late December, early January. Auditions and then rehearsals will take place in the New Year 2015. Rehearsals will rake place on Monday and Tuesday evenings at the same venue as the performances. The show will be performed June 23rd-27th June 2015. Pencil these dates into your diary now!

I would love to hear from you and have you join us. We need singers and performers who enjoy their performing and want to be part of something exciting, fun and new (World Premiere!).

The show is not set in stone. Come and help make it your own.

Pirates of Penzance

Buxton or Bust

Pirates of Penzance