Tarantara! Tarantara!

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Cast & Creative

Reviews & Awards

Rather smaller in scale than their annual show, Barnes and Richmond Operatic Society last week presented Tarantara! Tarantara! in the Studio Theatre at Parkshot.

The story was of the collaboration between W S Gilbert, Arthur Sullivan and Richard D’Oyly Carte. The idea was to show the eternal triangle between them and how such a successful association was ultimately self-destructive.

The staging was clever – three separate and yet rather fine desks were set at points around the auditorium. The principals W S Gilbert (Stephen Taylor), Sir Arthur Sullivan (William Brooks) and Richard D’Oyly Carte (Martin Elliff) were excellent in their characters and also when they were required to join in with some of the operatic enactments that went on.

Of the operatic performers Mr George Grossmith as played by Gavin Morgan was superb. I have never heard the G&S words delivered so fast and yet remain succinct.

The young ladies of the chorus all joined in with vivacity and enthusiasm. From their very first number they looked good too. Each was dressed in a jewel-coloured silky, slightly bustly outfit with three-quarter length sleeves puffed at the shoulder. The chaps were in smart frockcoats often with interesting cravates.

I had forgotten that Sullivan was actually a serious composer who was often unsure that he should be involved with such frivolous entertainments. Gilbert was apparently a cantankerous fellow – the wonder is that he managed to produce such humourous stuff.

There were some delicious extracts from Pinafore and Pirates of Penzance and we were told of Oscar Wilde’s delight with Patience; it was fun to consider the evolvement of such complicated entertainments and the show went down very well.

Helen Taylor

Richmond & Twickenham Times


The collaboration between W S Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan, sparked by the impresario Richard D’Oyly Carte has become the stuff of legend and has many of the attributes of one of their own comic operas.

Ian Taylor’s Tarantara! Tarantara! uses extracts from those perennial favourites to flesh out the story as well as to comment on it, giving a company a heaven-sent opportunity to get their teeth into some of the lesser-known numbers as well as the tried and true.

That is exactly what Barnes and Richmond Operatic Society did in their production in the Studio Theatre, last week.

I am not convinced that the book is anything more than a sketch of the real drama, but Clare Henderson Roe’s direction was clear and unfussy, carrying the story on in some style.

The most successful of the three main roles was Martin Elliff’s portrayal of Richard D’Oyly Carte which captured the sheer energy and acumen of the man as well as his undoubted genius in keeping the ill-assorted partnership of G&S alive. There was some fine singing from him, too.

Stephen Taylor caught Gilbert’s irascibility but made him too much of an ogre for most of the time, though his singing was, as ever, full-hearted and superbly enunciated.

I was a little disappointed in William Brooks as Sullivan, for he did not make me believe in the passion for his art which lay beneath the socialite exterior.

There were a couple of other fine performances, namely Gavin Morgan’s excellent George Grossmith and Bernard Messenger’s stage hand. Both of them captured the essence of the characters and, what is more sang well.

I must find a word of praise for the choreography of Stephanie Smith which made much of the space available and created some fine pictures.

So, this was an enjoyable evening, but, to tell the truth, with all the talent that was on show I would have preferred one of the operas complete.

George Allan

Middlesex Chronicle

Show Date: October 1998

Venue: Parkshot Studio

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