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Gilbert & Sullivan's RUDDIGORE To Run At Wilton's Music Hall in 2023

Performances run 14th - 25th March 2023.

Gilbert & Sullivan's RUDDIGORE To Run At Wilton's Music Hall in 2023

Surreal comedy meets genuinely spooky Victorian chiller in this unmissable production of Gilbert & Sullivan's RUDDIGORE or "The Witch's Curse".

Directed by Peter Benedict (Mapp & Lucia - The Musical and Terry Pratchett's Guards! Guards!), expect all the familiar G&S elements: terrific music, cheeky social satire, comic pathos and a sensational cast singing faster than you'd think humanly possible - but with a seasoning of sinister spectres.

Wilton's Music Hall with its faded Victorian grandeur, lends itself to a tale of ancestral ghosts who haunt the family picture gallery, and this innovative production will provide some spine-tingling moments amidst the laughs. Those who are familiar with Ruddigore are also in for a few visual and musical surprises.

Written as a glorious send up of Victorian melodrama, this new staging draws more on our love of classic Hammer movies, which were sometimes more fun than frightening. Sullivan's irresistible melodies and Gilbert's outrageously topsy-turvy twists, barmy characters and quirky humour make Ruddigore the perfect homage to the genre.

Victorians were perturbed by the juxtaposition of musical comedy and the supernatural; many contemporary stagings have played the latter solely for laughs. Benedict's production will be a more immersive and at times chilling experience, as he explains: "Wilton's is a building whose very bricks contain the spirits of another age. I think we should summon up a few of those spirits to join in the fun." Expect a fast-paced show that no G&S purist should object to.

Centuries ago, the Baronets of Ruddigore were doomed by an ancient curse, no thanks to the first Baronet, Sir Rupert Murgatroyd, who persecuted witches. One of his tortured victims, as she was burning at the stake, cursed all future Baronets of Ruddigore: unless they commit a crime every day they will die horrible deaths. Sir Ruthven Murgatroyd, one such Baronet, decides to flee his ancestral home in the hope of escaping such a terrible fate, and disguised as Robin Oakapple makes haste to Rederring in Cornwall where he meets the beautiful Rose Maybud. However, overthrowing such a curse proves tricky, particularly when he unexpectedly encounters dancing sailors, a bunch of frustrated bridesmaids and a chorus of ghosts. What could possibly go wrong?

Ruddigore is Gilbert & Sullivan's fifth Savoy Opera and tenth collaboration. It was first performed by the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company at the Savoy Theatre in London on 22nd January 1887, and it ran for 288 performances. Nearly three decades before Eliza Doolittle shocked audiences by saying "Not bloody likely", the Victorian press expressed disapproval of the original title "Ruddygore" and thought the inclusion of ghosts in a farcical musical, especially when a character sings a romantic duet with one, bordered on bad taste. Benedict's production incorporates dialogue cut after the premiere, reshaping the work but respecting Gilbert's intentions.

There has rarely been such a perfect match of live theatre with a performance venue. A Victorian operetta performed in a beautiful Victorian Music Hall where early performers included George Ware who wrote 'The Boy I Love is Up in the Gallery' to Arthur Lloyd and George Leybourne (Champagne Charlie), two of the first music hall stars to perform for royalty. A visit to Wilton's is a truly magical, haunting experience and one that visitors never forget.


14th - 25th March 2023
Box Office: 020 7702 2789
Performances: Tuesday - Saturday at 7:30pm
matinées: Thursday and Saturday at 2:30pm
Age group: suitable for 12+
Getting there: Wilton's Music Hall, Graces Alley (off Ensign Street pedestrian only), London E1 8JB. Getting there: closest tube stations are Tower Hill (Zone 1), Aldgate East (Zone 1) and Shadwell (Zone 2). Our closest rail station is Fenchurch Street.

("Skeleton Gentleman" portrait courtesy of Lisa Zador)


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