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A SONG TO SING O

Christopher Hamilton as Sir Joseph Porter in Melvyn Morrow's classic
Christopher Hamilton as Sir Joseph Porter in Melvyn Morrow’s classic

Kicking off the ‘Cabaret in the Day’ season at Mosman Art Gallery was a one off performance of the magnificent A SONG TO SING O , written and directed by Melvyn Morrow and here featuring the splendid talents of Savoy legend Christopher Hamilton playing  George Grossmith, accompanied on piano by Jayne Hamilton.

Grossmith was a leading Savoyard comic baritone, ( best known for his ‘patter’ roles ), comedian and writer, composer, actor, and singer. His performing career spanned more than four decades. As a writer and composer, he created 18 comic operas, nearly 100 musical sketches, some 600 songs and piano pieces, three books and both serious and comic pieces for newspapers and magazines. and among others created the roles of Sir Joseph Porter( HMS Pinafore ) , Major General Stanley  (The Pirates of Penzance), KoKo ( The Mikado) , and Jack Point ( Yeomen of the Guard) .

The audience is invited in as Mr Peabody, a visiting American journalist, is there to interview Grossmith, and this leads to performances from all his great roles. Grossmith is in his dressing room just before a show .The set includes a wallpapered Chinoiserie like screen and an elegant tea set , plus a hatstand , huge wicker traveling basket and a large vase all containing various props used in the show (for example Bunthorne’s lily). There are witty asides about working in the Savoy Company and with Gilbert and Sullivan, as well as Oscar Wilde amongst others. As well there are some terrific performances of a couple of Grossmith’s own songs– for example the poignant ‘Muddle Headed Porter’ and the rollicking ‘See Me Dance the Polka’ . Grossmith’s own wit also shone in his enchanting performance of ‘French Verbs’ – wickedly delightful.

Hamilton as Grossmith was glorious, warm, with a wicked twinkling eye where appropriate, a mobile expressive face and a terrific voice.  The performance was enthralling and he channeled Grossmith with great gusto. Various selections from the much loved Gilbert and Sullivan repertoire are performed starting off with ‘Trial by Jury’ and ‘My Name is John Wellington Wells’ from ‘The Sorcerer’. The tongue twisting, rapid fire ‘patter’ songs are tremendously performed .His Sir Joseph Porter KCB ( ‘ HMS Pinafore ‘ ) was excellent – refined, slightly effete . As Major General Stanley he was breathlessly fabulous. The fiendishly difficult Lord Chancellor’s ‘Nightmare Song’ from ‘Iolanthe’ was thrillingly performed .With swirling cape and a hunchback he became the horrid , testy King Gama  ( ‘Princess Ida’ ) who ‘can’t  think why’ he isn’t liked. Another famous Grossmith role was Koko from ‘The Mikado’ – his plaintive, compelling performance of ‘Tit Willow’ would have any hard hearted Katisha weeping. As Bunthorne (from ‘Patience’) with a green hat and cravat he is transformed into a languid S shape , narcissistically admiring a lily.

‘A Song to Sing O’ from ‘Yeomen of the Guard’ brought the interview to a close with a magnificent duet with a surprise appearance .

Encore and bravo. Or, as the Pirate King would say to Major-General Stanley, ‘Again’!

Melvyn Morrow’s A SONG TO SING O, running time an hour and ten minutes, played for one night only at the Mosman Gallery on June 30.

The next Cabaret In The Day shows are OUR GLAD on July 14, BROADWAY BARD on July 28 and finally Romance!ROMANCE! on September 1, 2013. All shows start at 3pm. The Mosman Art Gallery is located on the corner of Art Gallery Way and Myahgah Road, Mosman. Phone 99784178