Robert And Elizabeth
Manchester Evening News "Oscar" - outstanding scenery
2nd - 9th November 1968
Production Officials
Director Derek Taylor
Musical Director J. Arnold Thornton
Choreographer Mary Unsworth
Edward Moulton-Barrett Alan Lee
Henrietta Irene Taylor
Arabel Lyndene Brown
George Glyn Neary
Alfred Gordon Bustard
Henry Ian Dixon
Charles Ernest Pollitt
Septimus Robin Foster
Octavius Alan Roberts
Bella Hedley Barbara Ainsworth
Henry Bevan Jeff Taylor
Captain Surtees Cook Arnold Knowles
A Fellow Officer Denis Hamer
Wilson Audrey Raistrick
Flush (the dog) Penny
Doctor Chambers Alec Greaves
Elizabeth Ann Barton
Mr Macready Sturgess Mills
Mr Harrison David Sutcliffe
Stage Manager Colin Duckworth
Mrs Butler Nora Holder
Evans Harry Lee
Robert Browning Don Howcroft
Lady Mary Joyce Knowles
Sandwich-Board Man Alan Brockbank
Glenys Collinson, Janet Ennion, Dorothy Holt, Lorraine Parker, Denise Potts, Lyn Longworth, Colin Duckworth, Geoff Howarth
Sheila Bassett, Susan Briggs, Rene Barlow, Brenda Dixon, Sylvia Fishwick, Diane Gee, Nora Holder, Millie Hackett, Edith Horrocks, Bronwen Lee, Joyce Knowles, Brenda Orrell, Joyce Richardson, Lyn Rotheray, Alex Schofield, Lyn Vernon, Elizabeth Williams, Anne Wrennall, Alan Brockbank, Roy Haslam, Harry Lee, William A. Livesey, David Sutcliffe, Geoff Sutcliffe, Joseph P. Waites, Maurice Windsor, H. Sturgess Mills
  • Bolton Evening News Review
  • Manchester Evening News Review
There is now hardly a musician of the romantic school who hasn’t been made the subject of a musical, so we are turning to the poets. Two who eloped and married, as Robert Browning and Elizabeth Moulton-Barrett did, had it coming to them. The wonder is that Ron Grainer (music) and Ronald Millar (book and lyrics) were so slow off the mark with “Robert and Elizabeth”, especially with Rudolf Besier’s play “The Barretts of Wimpole Street” to point the way to them. Contrasting “Robert and Elizabeth” as I saw it on its try-out way to the West End with what it has become now that Walmsley Church AODS present it (all this week), I feel that in some ways a better job has been made of it. The high jinks in old man Barrett’s back garden have lost nothing in grace while gaining a great deal in seemliness, so that one no longer assumes, until the stern old patriarch’s appearance, that the revellers had got in over his dead body. The figure of J. Arnold Thornton’s musical direction and Derek Taylor’s production project the fiction and such fact as there is entertainingly. Some of the music is difficult to sing and play and a good deal of it is difficult to listen to, but attention seems keen. Alan Lee comes very near to credibility as Edward Moulton-Barrett. Don Howcroft’s Browning, needing more fullness of voice for the dialogue, nevertheless conveys the right feeling of masterful optimism. As the hypochondriac Elizabeth, Ann Barton manages her difficult vocal numbers with skill and responds convincingly to the Browning therapy. Irene Taylor is an appealing Henrietta and Barbara Ainsworth a demurely sexy Bella. Arnold Knowles makes the gorgeous but simple Captain Surtees-Cook the favourite he ought to be. Once again the society’s staging is effectively enterprising. A tiny period train runs over the proscenium arch on a panoramic journey to Italy and an almost life-size puffing-billy floods Florence station with steam in the 1840s. J.W.
This was primarily a triumph for Walmsley Church Operatic and Dramatic Society’s do-it-yourself stage staff. They designed, painted and built the scenery for all nine scenes and showed even greater expertise in handling it on their school hall stage at Egerton, Bolton. The hall of No.59 Wimpole Street was switched to the garden scene in five seconds flat. It was like a conjuring trick. There was also the diverting gimmickry of the train belching steam. Out of this at the finale stepped Don Howcroft, for whom it must have been a far journey from his Artful Dodger of the opera cup-winning “Oliver” to the role of the romantic poet Browning. But he gave a performance of great sincerity. With him was Ann Barton, a rather young and inexperienced Elizabeth, who sang with marked fervour. Alan Lee had enough authority as Moulton-Barrett to have resisted the temptation to shout. Arnold Knowles gave a gem of comic characterisation as the amorous guardsman, and Lyndene Brown (Arabel) and Barbara Ainsworth (Bella) were the best of the other principals. Tom Wildern

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