Les Cloches de Corneville
1st - 8th November 1980
Photographs by John Tustin
Production Officials
Director Audrey H. McL. Raistrick
Musical Director Jessie Whittaker
Choreographer Wendy Duckworth
Catherine Gillian Kirby
Marquerite Mary Pycroft
Gertrude Claire Blackburn
Jeanne Renee Cave
Manette Mary Greaves
Suzanne Joyce Foster
Serpolette Sue Daley
The Recorder Robin Foster
Assessor Keith Richardson
Notary Public Ivor Tavener
Grenicheux Bill Dixon
Germaine Mina Hall
Henri Stuart Hayes
Gaspard Alec Greaves
Bailie of Corneville Graham Yardley
Cachalot Andrew Turton
Coachmen Mike Taylor, Stanley Collinson
Servants Jack Sutcliffe, Ernest Pollitt
Chorus Of Villagers
Sylvia Fishwick, Aileen Bramwell, Norma Pollitt, Susan Thistlethwaite, Diane Tustin, Janet Welsby, Thelma Durrans, Margaret Steele, Dorothy Yardley, Betty Towler, Carol Dunsbee, Dorothy Hilton, Jeanne Thornley, Claire Clarkson, Ruth Wilcock, Barbara Martin, Helen Bennett, Brenda Dixon

  • Bolton Evening News Review
  • Manchester Evening News Review
Someone, in the third act of “Les Cloches de Corneville”, remarks “What a diabolical plot!” I could not help echoing the sentiment at Saturday evening’s first night of Walmsley Operatic production of this old, but updated, French musical comedy at Walmsley School, Egerton.

One is inclined to think that rural communities lead simple lives. Not a bit of it. Not Normandy peasants anyway. Their day-to-day existence is so intermeshed with intrigue and carryings onthat it’s a wise enfant that knows his own pere before the final curtain.

This sort of thing leaves simple chaps like me wondering whether the simple life exists anywhere and whether, after all, there may not be some missing document in our own relatively straightforward existence which would prove our affinity with some long forgotten duke.

Fortunately, the Walmsley Society do not let it worry them. They have realised that what makes “Les Cloches de Corneville” so charming is the music, not the story.

Robert Planquette, who composed it, was widely popular in his day (1848-1903) and this was his best work – and the only one that has survived. Like his contemporaries Offenbach and Sullivan he knew how to conjure a good tune out of thin air and how to fit it into the mood and the tempo of the script. The result is charm.

Walmsley heroism is shared equally between the four principals Mina Hall, Stuart Hayes, Sue Daley and Bill Dixon. But tributes must be paid to some outstanding chorus singing which contributes in large measure to the success of this show.

Music is directed by Jessie Whittaker and production is by Audrey Raistrick. Costumes and scenery are well up to Walmsley’s acknowledged high standard.

Charles Petry
The only justification for reviving this 100-year old piece of theatre history is its music. Only the second society in the country to have a go at the updated comic opera, the intrepid Walmsley Church ODS of Egerton, Bolton, are finding it “an exciting experience”.

Sue Daley as Serpolette, Bill Dixon (Grenicheux) and Mina Hall (Germaine) are three strong singers and the large chorus is equal to the extensive calls made upon it.

The home-made scenery was excellent and the costumes were no doubt authentic, but several of them did not relate to the characters wearing them and caused some early confusion.

Tom Wildern

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