by W S Gilbert and Sir Arthur Sullivan

Wednesday 31 October - Saturday 3 November

Hampton Hill Theatre

Director: Wesley Henderson-Roe

Assistant director: Laurie Coombs

Musical director: Lee Dewsnap


A satire on the stereotyped characters and ridiculous supernatural plots of Victorian melodrama, Ruddigore has long been a favourite of Gilbert & Sullivan aficionados. Gilbert himself apparently rated it as one of his three favourite Savoy operas, along with 'Yeomen of the Guard' and 'Utopia Limited'. 



Rose Maybud                     Johanna Chambers
Zorah & Zennor                 Andrea Wilkins & Anne Pringle
Dame Hannah                    Clare Henderson Roe
Robin Oakapple                  Paul Huggins
Old Adam                            Edz Barrett
Richard Dauntless              Tony Cotterill
Mad Margaret                      Felicity Morgan
Sir Despard Murgatroyd      Geoffrey Farrar
Sir Roderic Murgatroyd       Steve Taylor

Here's a synopsis.


Act 1

All the young men in the Cornish fishing village of Rederring are nuts about the lovely Rose Maybud, but they're all too terrified to ask her to marry them. This doesn't please Rederring's troupe of professional bridesmaids, who – as no-one's getting married – are worried they will soon be out of a job.

Led by chief bridesmaids Zorah & Zennor, the bridesmaids urge elderly Dame Hannah to think of marrying, but she explains she was once engaged to a youth who turned out to be the Baronet of Ruddigore, Sir Roderic Murgatroyd. The Baronets are under a curse brought on them by the witch-persecuting antics of the first Baronet, Sir Rupert Murgatroyd. They must commit a crime a day, or die horribly. When Hannah discovered who Roderic really was, she promptly left him, but has never forgotten her lost love.

Rose, being an orphan, has lived all her life with a book of etiquette as her guide, so thinks none of the village men are suitable except the young farmer Robin Oakapple, who (like everyone else) is too shy to talk to her. Robin wishes he could ask Rose to marry him, but he has a terrible secret. He is really the current Baronet, Sir Ruthven Murgatroyd, hiding from the curse. Only two people know the truth: Robin's faithful manservant Old Adam and his sailor foster-brother, Richard Dauntless.

Richard, who has been at sea for ten years, arrives in the village. He offers to woo Rose in Robin's place, but is so taken with her he asks her to marry him instead, much to the bridesmaids' delight and Robin's horror. But Richard doesn't measure up to Rose's expectations (or her book of etiquette) and she decides to marry Robin instead.

There are other casualties of the Baronets' curse. The village madwoman, Mad Margaret, was once beloved of Sir Despard Murgatroyd, Robin's younger brother – but after Robin fled from the curse, Despard was forced to take over as Bad Baronet of Ruddigore, leaving Margaret bereft.

Meanwhile, Richard has a cunning plan to win Rose back from Robin. He goes to Despard and tells him his elder brother is alive and is about to marry Rose Maybud. Despard confronts his brother at the wedding, forcing Robin to admit his real identity and take over as Bad Baronet. Rose offers herself to Despard, but he refuses her and proposes to Margaret, leaving Rose with Richard as her only option. The bridesmaids are working overtime.

Act 2

Robin, or Sir Ruthven Murgatroyd as he now is, is not having a good time. His manservant Old Adam, or Gideon Crawle as he now calls himself, announces that Rose and Richard are coming to ask the Baronet's blessing on their wedding. Robin attempts to kidnap Rose but is foiled by Richard holding a Union Jack over her head.

Alone in his castle's portrait gallery, Robin calls upon his ancestors to release him from the curse. The ancestors appear as ghosts from their portraits, led by the ghost of Sir Roderic Murgatroyd. Not only do they refuse to release him from the curse, they warn him his crimes are not up to scratch and he must commit a proper crime or die horribly. In despair, Robin tells Old Adam to go to the village and carry off a lady – any lady – and bring her to the castle.

The newly-wed Despard and Margaret, who are now mostly respectable, arrive. Despard points out that all his bad deeds are now under Robin's name as Sir Ruthven, as he should have been the Baronet all along. Robin vows to defy his ancestors, even if it means he dies.

Meanwhile Adam has succeeded, with some difficulty, in carrying off – Dame Hannah! She is furious and threatens Robin with a knife until he calls for help. Sir Roderic reappears from his portrait, recognises Hannah as his lost love and tells Robin to go away. Finally, Robin works it out. Refusing to commit a daily crime is tantamount to suicide, but suicide itself is a crime. So none of the ancestors, including Roderic, should have died at all, and the curse doesn't apply! Roderic and Hannah are reunited, as are Rose and Robin, and Richard ends up with Zorah. The bridesmaids prepare to work overtime again …

There's more information at the G&S Archive: