A Gilbert and Sullivan fest

THE Spa Orchestra play the best of Gilbert and Sullivan in an eagerly anticipated concert at the Spa Grand Hall tomorrow.

The songs have stood the test of time.

They were written over 100 years ago and yet the shows from which they come still play to packed houses the world over.

Billed as a G&S extravaganza, the show will boast nearly 50 performers on stage instead of the usual 10 or so.

In addition to the orchestra, there will be three guest soloists and a full chorus of some 30 singers. The G&S shows featured in the programme will include The Mikado, The Gondoliers and HMS Pinafore.

The guest artistes are no strangers to Scarborough. Debra Morley and Joe Shovelton have already sung at the Spa this year, thrilling the orchestra’s biggest audience of the season to date with Ivor Novello songs. Debra has played most leading soprano roles in the G&S operettas, some with D’Oyly Carte. She has sung in many parts of Europe and in the Far East. Joe has just completed a tour at the Royal Opera House. When he was principal tenor with D’Oyly Carte, his understudy was Alfie Boe.

Richard Suart makes a popular return to the Spa after a sell-out season with English National Opera in London playing KoKo in The Mikado, a role he has made his own. Arguably the world’s best G&S comedian, he is as much in demand in the USA as the UK and regularly guests with the major American opera companies. His performance of the well-known song in The Mikado listing all the people he would like to behead as the lord high executioner always brings the house down. It owes very little to Gilbert’s original lyrics and is never the same two nights running as Richard keeps it as topical as possible. Phone hacking and the Murdochs are almost certain to appear tomorrow.

“That a singer such as Richard Suart, who sings with the world’s best orchestras, should eagerly look forward to performing in Scarborough is a great tribute to the Spa Orchestra,” says promoter Stephen Walker.