THE PRODUCTION STAFF
Diana Burleigh, Director
Diana was born in India of an Irish mother and Scottish father (which some people say explains a lot!). However the family relocated to England when she was a baby and Diana grew up on the South Coast. From the earliest she had a love of theatre and a desire to be part of it. On leaving school Diana was awarded a scholarship to study drama and trained at in London at the New College of Speech and Drama and London University. She then went on to work in the British repertory system before deciding for family reasons to go to Australia.
Along with the love and study of theatre, Diana became infatuated with Gilbert and Sullivan in her teens. But she thought of G&S as something to see, read and talk about. Not being a singer it never occured to her to think about being involved in productions. It was only when she joined the G&S Society in Melbourne, a producing group, that she became interested in working backstage and eventually directing.
In the meantime Diana's career stayed with the performing arts. She worked as a drama teacher, drama consultant, arts administrator and drifted into arts journalism, on radio as an interviewer and critic and in print where most of her work was writing about opera. In 2001, Diana wrote a one-woman play, Helene Only To Her Friends, which she performed at a major "off-Broadway" venue in Melbourne.
Pressure of work left little time for G&S and Diana dropped out of the scene for about 10 years, coming back in the mid 1990s and concentrated her engergies on improving her collection, getting involved in Savoynet and directing more productions, all of which generate much pleasure.
Larry Garvin, Music Director
Bexley, Ohio, USA
Angela Arnell, Producer
Angie’s interest in G & S began when her parents took her to see an amateur production ofIolanthe at the age of 13. In the same year she saw the G&S for All group and was hooked. After many years as an enthusiast and a member of The Gilbert & Sullivan Society, she plucked up the courage to join Erith Operatic Society. She has attended the International G&S Festival every year since 1996 and appeared in a number of Festival Productions and all the SavoyNet shows since 1999 except HMS Pinafore last year when she helped backstage instead. This year she has enjoyed being Production Coordinator for Princess Ida, a role where she has learnt how much work goes on before a SavoyNet production by a group of very hard working and dedicated individuals.
Angie also enjoys directing at her local theatre which started with The Mikado in 2003. This has been followed with Trial and Pinafore, Yeomen of the Guard and a very successful Ray Cooney farce – Caught in the Net. In her other life she teaches Religious Studies in a London Secondary School which also puts on a G & S most years and spends a considerable amount of time sorting out material and envelopes for The G&S News three times a year.
Keith Drage, Stage Manager
I have been active in technical activities backstage since school, ranging from stage manager to lighting designer to master carpenter to sound engineer, down to lowly scene shifter. My first Gilbert and Sullivan show was as lighting designer at Hull University. My first show at the International Gilbert and Sullivan Festival was in 1996.
I have worked with many companies in Nottingham and Derby, and frequently support 6 or 7 different shows a year in Buxton Opera House. Companies include Savoynet (since 2000), Derby Gilbert and Sullivan Company, Trent Opera, Nottingham Festival Opera, Present Company and Present Opera, Derby Opera Company, Rolls-Royce Operatic Society. I admit my first preference is to work on Grand Opera and shows by Sondheim.
I have worked the whole G&S canon, and done the book for the entire canon except Patience. At previous festivals, I have been DSM for the following winning shows: Princess Ida (Derby G&S Company, 1997), The Yeomen of the Guard (Derby G&S Company, 2000), and Ruddigore (Derby G&S Company, 2003). I have also participated in the Waterford International Festival of Light Opera an number of times, and been DSM for the following winning shows: Pacific Overtures (Nottingham Festival Opera, 2001) and A Little Night Music (Trent Opera, 2004). As well as the Princess Ida listed above which took place on the Philadelphia, USA leg of the festival, I have also been DSM for the Derby G&S Company visit with Iolanthe to Seattle in 2003, and will shortly be doing the same job for their visit to Nanaimo, Vancouver Island, Canada with H.M.S. Pinafore, making my third overseas country.
When not working on shows, my real job is for Lucent Technologies (Bell Labs) specifying standards defining network protocols for mobile phone operation, primarily working on Voice over IP in both the 3rd Generation Partnership project and the Internet Engineering Task Force.
Stuart Box, Assistant Director
Kathryn Barton, Costumes Co-Coordinator
Little Sandhurst, UK
Originally from Yorkshire, Kathryn now lives in Little Sandhurst, Berkshire. After performing in a production of Trial By Jury when at school in Lincolnshire, Kathryn realized that (1) she loved G&S, but (2) hated being on stage. Kathryn has been front-of-house manager for the Savoy Singers (Camberley, Surrey) and has assisted with SavoyNet costumes and props since our production of Yeomen in 2000. Three years ago, Kathryn took over responsibility as SayoyNet wardrobe mistress and custodian of the cast's confidential personal statistics. In real life, Kathryn is an assistant manger of a day centre for adults with learning difficulties in Wokingham, Berkshire, and enjoys crosswords, knitting, gardening and flower arranging.
Claire Little, Assistant Stage Manager
Claire Little was born in York, and currently lives and works in London, which is definitely the wrong end of the country. She has been singing G&S and other musical theatre since 1997, most recently with Grosvenor Light Opera Company, and her roles have included a French maid, a spicy pasta sauce and a tenor pirate. Princess Ida will be her eighth production at Buxton with SavoyNet, including five appearances in the chorus, two as costume assistant, and two as ASM. Not having much of a voice these days, she generally confines her singing to the wings, where it only annoys the rest of the backstage staff, and not the audience.
Claire has crewed three shows for Trent Opera/Nottingham Festival Opera at the International Festival of Light Opera in Waterford, and most recently was on the fit-up/strike crew for the Derby G&S Company run of Yeomen of the Guard at the Derby Assembly Rooms (where she was asked if she was a ‘SavoyNet spy’ !).
Claire has been a member of the SavoyNet Performing Group Steering Committee since 2005, and has held the post of convenor since 2006.
J. Donald Smith, Rehearsal Manager
Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
I have been involved with G&S for more years than it is usually politic to admit - as a fan and audience member, as a collector of memorabilia, in the pit for several productions and more recently both on stage and back stage. With Savoynet I have been associated with every production, from backstage for Cox and Box, as the Associate in Trial (my only solo role, so far), in the chorus for Ruddigore, Yeomen and Patience and with walk-ons in Sorcerer and Utopia as well as being Production Assistant for Pirates. I have also been able to attend every leg of every one of the Festivals (Philadelphia, Berkeley and Eastbourne, as well as Buxton) although not in full.) Since my retirement six years ago, I have had the time and opportunity to do G&S during the year as well.
William Revels, Props Creator
William has performed principal roles in the last five G&S festivals (Goldbury, Samuel and Sir Roderic for Savoynet, Counsel and Dr Daly for Peak Opera) and this year performs Luiz for Peak Opera. William earns his living by restoring/designing gardens, and by singing opera at functions and in restaurants in the Brighton area.
Rebecca Hains, Web Site Designer
Peabody, Massachusetts, USA
Rebecca has performed in so many Gilbert and Sullivan productions, she's losing count. She has appeared on the Buxton Opera House stage on four occasions, having previously appeared at the International G&S Festival as Mabel, Phyllis and Josephine with Savoynet, and as Princess Zara with Bruce Montgomery's G&S Players.
Last year, Rebecca released an independently produced CD, The Gilbert & Sullivan Soprano Arias, on which she sings 20 songs by Gilbert & Sullivan, plus a bonus track from Sullivan'sRose of Persia. More information on Rebecca's CD is available from her web site or her Myspace artist page.
Rebecca wishes she could join her Savoynet friends at this year's festival, but she has a prior engagement: She and her husband, Tyler, are eagerly anticipating the arrival of a bundle of joy in September. :)
Sir Walter Vivian / Hildebrand
Leon has taken major roles with the Royal Opera House, English National Opera, Welsh National Opera, Scottish Opera (notably in Janacek and Wagner) and New Sadler's Wells. He has sung over 100 operatic roles in England, Europe and the West Indies. West End musicals include Pacific Overtures, Chess, Allegro, Hollywood Pinafore and Trouble in Tahiti, and in the provinces Bernstein's Mass and Jud Fry in Oklahoma! His recordings include cast albums of The Merry Widow, Pacific Overtures, Gilbert's His Excellency, Sullivan's Cox & Box and two solo albums of Grossmith's comic songs, A Society Clown and The Grossmith Legacy - he also featured as Grossmith singing these songs in a documentary for BBC 2 last Christmas, The Real Mr Pooter. Leon has performed the lyric and patter baritone roles in all 14 operas by Gilbert & Sullivan with such companies as Gilbert & Sullivan For All, The Magic of D'Oyly Carte, Gawsworth Summer Opera and at the International G&S Festival at Buxton. He regularly sings all the standard oratorio (favourites include The Messiah & Elijah). Memorable performances include Vaughan-William's Mystical Songs with Mozart's Requiem in Boston, USA and the premier of two oratorios: Re-Creation by David Perkins and Tomorrow...? by Peter Skellern at the Albert Hall. This spring he appeared with the Light Opera Company of New York as the King in Victor Herbert's The Magic Knight and is currently on tour as the title role in Don Pasquale for Garden Opera. He was for several years a collaborator with the late Donald Swann, and is now archivist and editor of his music. He is currently writing the authorised biography of Michael Flanders, and has put together a new Flanders & Swann CD boxed set for EMI.
Young Walter / Hilarion
New York, NY, USA
Christopher Diffey began performing at the age of 5. He was a member of the National Boys Choir, and was part of their tour of Europe in 1991, performing at St. Peter's Basilica for Pope John Paul II, as well as Westminster Abbey. He has returned in recent years as an "old boy" to sing in the NBC's Christmas concerts at the Concert Hall, performing traditional Irish carols. He also performed as a soloist in their 40th Anniversary concert, held last year at Robert Blackwood Hall. In 1993, he was in the VSO production of La Boheme.
Christopher completed his bachelor of Music with Honors from Monash University in 2002, majoring in Vocal performance under the tutelage of Peter Mander. In 2003, he performed in the Lyric Opera Company production of The Saint of Bleecker Street, playing the role of A Young Man, as well as being lead solo in St. Mark's Easter passion, broadcast on radio station 3MBS. Last year he sang the lead Tenor solos for Opera In The Alps, 2004 in Beechworth with Orchestra Victoria under Thomas Woods. Among other pieces performed was the World Premiere of the Gordon Kerry work Through the Fire. For Opera In The Market, 2004, Christopher was again one of the principle Tenor soloists, along with David Hobson. At the 2004 Annual National Liederfest he received the Pat Nicholson Memorial Encouragement Award, as well as making the final of the Austral Salon Vocal Championships. Christopher also appeared in the Melbourne City Opera production of Carmen as El Remondado, following on in their next production, Il Barbiere di Siviglia as Count Almaviva (understudy). Christopher appeared in The Gilbert and Sullivan Society's production of The Mikado as Nanki-Poo and in their 2005 production of HMS Pinafore as Ralph Rackstraw. In a recent Eisteddfod appearance, Christopher won the Lieder section in the Dandenong Festival of Music & Art for Youth.
New Brunswick, NJ
Jonathan is excited about his fifth year in Buxton, and his fifth year to perform with Savoynet. He lives in New Brunswick, NJ (USA), where he recently completed his Ph.D. in philosophy.
Lee, London, UK
Stuart's first G&S performance was at the tender age of 10, playing the Lord Chancellor's page boy in his father's society. He joined his first adult society for Pirates at 16 and played Pooh-Bah at 17 (a fact he was very proud of at the time and now, with experience and hindsight, recognises as one of his worst stage appearances ever… but we all make mistakes)! London, as many may know, is a crowded area for musical theatre societies and Stuart believes he has been a member of 16 societies (of which, less than half threw him out).
These days Stuart can proudly boast having been cast in a principal role in the Mikado after auditioning at the Royal Opera House (the director of the amateur show worked in the box office and was able to borrow a room). Stuart's G&S roles have included Lord Mountararat, Colonel Calverly, Arac, the Usher, Dr. Tannhäuser, as well as Pooh-Bah, Pish-Tush and Go-To (this year will mark his 6th Mikado). Outside G&S, Stuart has also been in a variety of other musicals and operetta including Kismet (Hajj / The Poet), Orpheus in the Underworld (Mars), Jack the Ripper (Chairman), etc.
This is Stuart's first trip to Buxton… but he hopes not his last!
New York, NY, USA
Sam has been a member of SavoyNet since 1995 and has been attending the International G&S Festival since 1996, when he played Private Willis in a Festival Production. Since then, Sam has played about a dozen more roles at the Festival, mostly with SavoyNet. He also performs with the Blue Hill Troupe in New York. A business lawyer by day, Sam edits G&S and musicals articles on Wikipedia in his spare time. He is also a member of the G&S Society of New York.
Tony has been a G&S enthusiast since being taken to see a production of Iolanthe at the tender age of 5. His opportunity to perform was delayed until only relatively recently, 1986, however since then he has made up for lost time by appearing in almost all the operas and has had the "privilege and pleasure" of playing most of the bass/baritone principal roles. Favourites include The Sergeant of Police, The Usher, Colonel Calverley, Pooh Bah, Sir Despard, Shadbolt, Don Alhambra, Bouncer and of course Willis. Apart from a recent break in 2003/4 he has attended all the G&S Festivals and appeared many times on the Opera House Stage having had principal roles in 10 Festival and 5 Savoynet productions--most recently, last year's production of HMS Pinafore, in which he performed the role of Bill Bobstay.
Non-G&S roles have included Daddy Warbucks in Annie, Emile De Bec in South Pacific (which was incidentally performed at the Buxton Opera House) and Tevye in Fiddler.
Jane Brendler Büchi
Cousin Lilia / Princess Ida
New York, NY, USA
Aunt Elizabeth / Lady Blanche
West Chester, PA, USA
Julie's love of theatre goes back to her childhood in Washington DC where she was enthralled by its magic at an early age. Marriage and family kept her from the boards until 1994 when she decided that it was time to fulfill a life long dream. She plunged in by joining the Gilbert & Sullivan Society of Chester County (GSSCC), Pennsylvania (Cousin Hebe, Peep Bo, Isabel, Lady Angela, Daphne, Lady Psyche, Mad Margaret, Phoebe, Julia, and Katisha). She has also performed with The Ardensingers in Arden Delaware (Fiametta, Eliza Smith, the Fairy Queen, Pitti-Sing, Kalyba); Thespis Etc in Media, Pennsylvania (Katisha, Tessa); in Buxton with the G&S Players (Daphne) & Savoynet (Fairy Queen); and in award winning Broadway/off-Broadway roles in local community theatre (including that of three men in her first straight play).
Her directorial credits include Trial By Jury, 2003 – GSSCC: HMS Pinafore, 2002 and Patience, 2005 –Thespis, Etc; HMS Pinafore, 2006 – Ardensingers; Buxton Iolanthe, 2007 & Pirates, 2008 - Philadelphia Gilbert & Sullivan Union: Gondoliers, fall 2008 –GSSCC.
She has also produced many GSSCC shows and served on the board in various capacities, currently as Treasurer.
Julie is a soloist at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in West Chester, Pennsylvania, and has performed in concerts and churches in the area. She studies voice with Kathryn Armour of Wilmington, Delaware and New York City.
New York, NY, USA
I have no idea how I became so entrenched in Gilbert and Sullivan for all these years as I am sure I was just setting off to meet people outside of work for a friendly beer. But after performing chorus for the entire canon (sometimes twice) I can conjure up as many 'Gilbertian Lines' as anyone else on Savoynet and the songs never really leave my head for any extended period of time.
I am a member of The St. Barts Players and the Blue Hill Troupe, Ltd. Favorite roles elsewhere include Domina (A Funny Thing...), Rapunzel (Into the Woods), Jenny (Company) and Madame Arcati (High Spirits). I also performed with the Savoynet in Buxton as Mrs. Partlett (Sorcerer) and Kate in last year's production of Pirates.
During the day I work as a paralegal and share a house upstate with husband Jack, a very time consuming activity, I must say.
Christine St. Pierre
New York, NY, USA
Christine has been singing and performing for as long as she can remember. She received her Bachelor's degree in Voice performance from the University of Maine in 2001. While at the University, she had the opportunity to appear many opera scene studies, as Jack's Mother in "Into the Woods" and with the women's acapella group "Renaissance". Regional theater credits have included Sheila in Hair, Gina in the world premiere of Naked in Portland and Norma in The Plaza Suite. She was introduced to G&S two years ago and has since had the pleasure of singing a lot of different roles in very informal settings. She is incredibly excited to have the opportunity to join the Savoynet show this year.
Webster, MA, USA
Mary was bitten by the theater bug at an early age, but was nearly 30 before she discovered the joys of performing Gilbert and Sullivan. With this production of Princess Ida, she will have appeared on stage in all of the G&S shows (yes, even Thespis) except the Pirates of Penzance. Mary earns her daily bread as a marketing writer for a software firm.
New York, NY, USA
Carol's home company is New York's Blue Hill Troupe, where she has been happily singing for many years. She also spent a year in Philadelphia (joke there somewhere, I fancy) and sang with the Savoy Company there.
She is on the Board of Directors of the New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players and editor of The Palace Peeper, the newsletter of the Gilbert & Sullivan Society of New York. Carol was the host of a three-weekend Gilbert & Sullivan symposium in 1999 at NYC's Metropolitan Museum of Art, moderating panel discussions and emceeing evening concerts.
Carol was largely responsible for the Blue Hill Troupe bringing their edited Grand Duke to Buxton in 2005, which was highly praised by all (well, nearly all) who saw it. She has also performed in and emceed a number of cabarets at the Festival Club.
Carol, along with partners Rich Miller and Jack Behonek, recently incorporated a professional, not-for-profit operetta company called Light Opera of New York (yes, LOONY!), about which you will be hearing much more in the months and years to come.
This is Carol's sixth trip to Buxton, and she'll keep on doing it as long as time and finances permit.
Little Sandhurst, UK
Originally from Bristol, Philip now lives in Little Sandhurst, Berkshire. His love of the G&S operas began when he was taken to see a production of The Mikado by the D'Oyly Carte at age three. Starting with performances at school and college, Philip has been active with G&S performing societies based in Stamford, Lincolnshire and in Camberley, Surrey for the past 26 years, and he is currently vice-chairman and treasurer of the Savoy Singers. He has been in several productions of each of the works in the G&S canon (plus The Rose of Persia), and for the past nine years has appeared in productions at Buxton for both the Savoy Singers and for SavoyNet. Much of Philip's career has been spent in the plastic card industry, and a couple of years ago when working in New Jersey he appeared in a production of Pirates for Ridgewood G&S Opera Company. Philip has been treasurer of the SavoyNet Performing Group for the past three years and is a member of the Steering Committee.
New York, NY, USA
Washington, DC, USA
Rick has been a G&S fan since the age of seven when, shortly after first seeing H.M.S. Pinafore, he dressed up as Sir Joseph Porter, KCB, for Halloween. His first G&S role, as Dr Daly in The Sorcerer, was hailed as "weak and washed-out" by one reviewer, who went on to wonder just what Constance saw in him. He graduated from Harvard University in 2003 with a degree in Classics and has been a secondary school teacher sporadically since then. In his hometown he has performed with the Washington Savoyards and with VLOC (the Victorian Lyric Opera Company). This is his second trip to Buxton; in 2006 he was one of the festival's Young Ambassadors, played the Lord Chancellor in the Young Artists' Iolanthe, and also stepped in as an emergency pianist for several SavoynetRuddigore rehearsals.
This is David’s third Savoynet show, and he has been lucky enough to get his two favourite operas in those three – Ruddygore and Ida. He has been involved with G & S since his teenage years. Nowadays he is involved with music and drama in Orkney, doing all those things that are needed by local amateur drama and music clubs and societies. His roles vary from Director, both stage and musical, to Panto Dame: from set construction to General Dogsbody: from actor to secretary. He says that Orkney is a wonderful place to live for anyone who wants to get involved in community music and drama.
Sarah-Jane was first introduced to G&S at a very young age when her mum used to play her G&S cassette tape to her at night and it soon became one of her favourites. She saw her first G&S show at the age of 6 when she was dragged kicking and screaming to an amateur production of H.M.S. Pinafore. Of course she loved it and apparently the first thing she said after it was......"I'm going to be in that one day Nanna!" Well she finally achieved that dream last year when she was in the chorus of Trial and Pinafore with Ipswich Gilbert and Sullivan Society. With the society, she has also been a chorus member and lead dancer in Patience, Ruddigore, Gondoliers, and Iolanthe, and was also in the chorus of Ida last November even though she could only make 6 of the (2 hour long) rehearsals, which included the tech run and 2 dress rehearsals! It will be a luxury to have a ‘proper amount of rehearsal time’ for Savoynet’s Ida.
Sarah's theatrical/musical background covers many different disciplines: Pantos (both onstage and in the pit band playing flute and saxophone), short plays with her local church drama group, playing in orchestras, jazz bands and saxophone quartets, singing in church choirs, acting in school plays and even a stint singing in a friend's rock band.
She gained a 2:2 in theatre at Dartington College of Arts in Devon, with electives in Workshop leading skills, for which she taught liturgical dance, and vocal production. While at Dartington she was a member of the Dartington community choir, and two years ago donned her fishnets and suspenders to play a "Transylvanian saxophonist, dancer and backing singer" in the university production of Rocky Horror.
She married fellow cast member Chris Hall in April and they are looking forward to another happy event in December!
This is Sarah's fifth show with Savoynet.
John was first introduced to Gilbert & Sullivan when he was invited to join the London Light Opera Co. From here he joined the chorus of G&S for All at Holland Park with Tom Round and Donald Adams. He has since played most of the bass/baritone roles particularly the Sergeant of Police and most recently, Sergeant Meryll with Erith Operatic Society in early 2007. Non G&S roles include Essex in Merrie England, Morales in Carmen and Omar Khayyam in Kismet, for which he grew his beard extra long.
John has been the Chairman of the Gilbert and Sullivan Society for a number of years and has been attending Buxton since the 3rd International Festival. He has enjoyed performing in all the SavoyNet shows sinceRuddigore 1999 except HMS Pinafore and most of the Festival productions. Last year since John had a heart bypass operation pending he helped backstage. He is therefore particularly looking forward to being back on the Opera House stage in August.
Woodhall Spa, UK
John comes from Woodhall Spa in rural Lincolnshire and has performed in most of the G & S operettas taking minor principal parts and chorus. He is also a member of Nene Opera in Peterborough who are also performing at Buxton this season. Other societies include West Norfolk G & S Society and Boston Operatic where, apart from G & S, he has performed inseveral Musicals recently(Oklahoma, Guys & Dolls, and South Pacific this Autumn).
John is an accountant by trade and owns his own compnay, which is a national chicken-selling and production based company, selling throughout the UK.
John is married with one daughter, who is a hairdresser.
New York, NY, USA
Chris learnt his G&S young - at the age of two his godfather said he was the youngest child he had ever heard singing "A more humane Mikado." Rather later, his first appearance on stage in the canon was for the Oxford University Gilbert & Sullivan Society in The Yeomen of the Guard, as townsman and headsman's assistant. After some years singing little G&S (except for extracts in a local male voice choir) he rediscovered it at about the same time as the first Buxton festival. He has missed only one Savoynet production since 1998. He believes he was the last Ko-Ko of the 20th century (at any rate in the Greenwich time-zone), having held a QWERT in which The Mikado finished at 11.40 pm on 31st December 2000. He could recently be heard on the battlefield of Waterloo, proclaiming his ability to recall the fifteen decisive battles of the world in order categorical (fortunately, no one tested him). He is the editor of a book called "A fair young curate" (the diary of his father, a curate in 1938), which all G&S bibliophiles who aim at completeness in their collections should make sure and buy for the sake of the title! In 2008 he sang First Yeoman for Stafford & District Operatic Society.
Chris also sings with the Keele Chapel Singers. His other interests include politics (he agrees with Private Willis) and the works of Dorothy L Sayers (who was also fond of using quotations from Gilbert & Sullivan). His ambition is to sing "Hail Poetry" in the Antarctic. He also finds time to work at Keele University, where he began as a librarian but now works as a QA manager.
Web Diva: Rebecca Hains