Gilbert and Sullivan Productions (GASP), the newest musical theatre group on the Island has got off to a flying start with a sell-out inaugural concert at Bembridge Village Hall last Saturday evening.
The packed hall enjoyed a variety of light classical music performed by three incredibly talented musicians who, even after agreeing to the demand for an encore, left the audience wanting more. ‘Is there going to be another concert like this soon?’ was a question I heard several times as we circulated round the bar after the show, chatting with each other and the performers.
Rob Forbes has sung Gilbert and Sullivan since his schooldays and his delight in their music is obvious, whether explaining the elements of wedded bliss in ‘Take A Pair of Sparkling Eyes’ from The Gondoliers or camping it up for ‘A Tenor All Singers Above’ – very appropriate given his own rich tenor voice. But the repertoire ranged far beyond just G&S. Taking as a (very) vague theme ‘music which would have been enjoyed by Queen Victoria on her visits to the Island’, we were treated to a wonderful selection of songs including ‘Come Into The Garden Maud’, based on the Tennyson poem of the same name, ‘La Ricordanza’ from Bellini’s I Puritanii, Queen Victoria’s favourite opera, and the well known and loved ‘Home Sweet Home’.
Accompanying Rob on the beautiful boudoir grand piano was Adrian Moore, who regularly plays piano, organ and harpsichord for church and choral groups around the country. Adrian also lent his delightful bass voice to great effect in some wonderful harmonies with Rob. Their evident enjoyment and appreciation of each other’s talents and the music they were producing enhanced the show, as did Rob’s explanations of some of the songs and where needed, comically melodramatic flourishes.
Steve Burton gave us some beautiful flute pieces, again accompanied by Adrian on piano, along with a few amusing remarks of his own. Apparently no one told him that the performers were supposed to change outfits at the interval!
Talking of the interval, the programme was put together perfectly so that the first half ended with Sir Arthur Sullivan’s amusing ‘The Dicky Bird And The Owl’, leaving us laughing and anticipating the G&S songs to come. Act 2 however began with Offenbach’s ‘Gendarmes Duet’, with its invited comparison to a group of policemen similarly disaffected with their ‘Lot’ in The Pirates of Penzance, which GASP will be staging in September.
The final song in the programme was the magnificent ‘Nessus Dorma’, which drew a storm of applause and cries of ‘More’ – so Rob and Adrian obliged with AP Randolph’s ‘How Could Red Riding Hood (have been so very good and still keep the wolf from the door?), a delightfully light-hearted contrasting song to end on, and as Rob pointed out, written just one year after Turandot.
A special mention should be made of Andrew Jenner, founder of GASP for putting together and producing the show. Bembridge is lucky to have hosted such talent, and if this is a taster of what GASP will be providing in the future, I for one cannot wait to see its next show.
The Pirates of Penzance will be staged at Bembridge Village Hall on 23rd – 25th September, and tickets can now be booked on 01983 612802.