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Specific Performances

Recorded

IAN BOND:

D'Oyly Carte were in the habit at one time of omitting the sung finale altogether, just playing the last few bars under the final dialogue.

This is preserved on the 1961 recording, now coupled on CD with Ruddigore. However, on the 1978 recording they did sing the Finale as in the 'Savoy' version, but with just the second refrain.

DERRICK McCLURE:

Does anybody agree that Alan Styler's best recorded part is Cox, in the 1961 (?) DC recording with Donald Adams as Bouncer and Philip Potter (I think) as Box? Not only is his singing faultless, his characterisation of the irascible ex-colonel is a delight....

CHRIS WEBSTER:

Box was played by Joseph Riordan in this recording.

I agree that Alan Styler was absolutely superb as Cox, but I think you are mixing up Cox with Bouncer in your final comment. However, Donald Adams who played Bouncer was also absolutely superb. I think that this is one of the very best recordings that company ever made.

The other recordings that I know are the "G & S For All" record, which I find most peculiar to listen to because of bad engineering, and the second DCOC recording, which I find quite drab, probably because I have only ever really had the '61 recording to make any comparisons with. I think there is at least one recording on cassette only but I do not know this one. The only professional video recording is in the Brent Walker series and is extremely good.

I wonder if there are many people out there who have the mispressed CD from the DCOC "Ruddigore / Cox and Box" which has the '78 recording instead of the advertised '61 recording. When I relalised this mistake I wrote to Decca and received a corrected replacement disc while being allowed to keep the original disc with the '78 recording.

This sort of mistake is, in a way, a collector's delight, as it is very unlikely that this recording will be issued on CD for a very long time, if at all.

ASHLEY FRAMPTON:

Yes I have got it. in fact (to blow, blow my own trumpet), I was waiting for it to come out; I had a friend who worked for Decca and promised me a copy. I got it the day it was released and phoned in to say that they made a mistake! I don't know if I was the first but it did not receive a friendly response.

Specific Performances

Live

ANDREW CROWTHER:

Just a small point which occurs to me about Cox and Box -- summed up in the subject line ["A very Victorian operetta"]. It's a very Victorian piece, surely -- much more so than any of the G&S operas (except Sorcerer?). I mean that I can't imagine an updated production working -- it's so firmly set in that era, with its appealingly shabby bohemian atmosphere, its frank love of "good words", etc. Have any Savoynetters seen/been involved in an updated production, and if so, did you think it worked?

JEFF DEMARCO:

About 12 years ago there were two productions of Box and Cox running at the same time in the town of 5000 where I lived!

One (with the group with which I was associated) was very traditional and extremely well done. The other was "updated" to the extent that the genders were switched (possibly other things as well).

I did not see the production, but at least one couple came to see ours after seeing the other one and felt that it worked much better.

Of course, this switch would be much harder to do in Cox and Box.

I really can't imagine updating either. Of course, I don't like updating in any of the canon, so I am probably prejudiced in that regard.

PAUL McSHANE:

Cox and Box is one of a few G&S operas that I have been involved in, but never seen from the audience.

My one exposure to it was playing Box in a drawing-room performance. I am short (just over 5'6"), Bouncer was just over 6', and Cox was a 6'6" beanpole. This made for some amusing groupings on stage, and a special laugh at the "long lost brother" denouement, which was about as likely as Arnold Schwarznegger and Danny De Vito being twins.

I imagine the conciseness of the piece makes it one in which people that appeared in it could have some interesting stories to tell. Any other reminiscences to help liven up the Cox and Box thread?

GENE LEONARDI:

...Many moons ago, in my prep school days, I took to the stage and essayed the character of Mrs. Bouncer in J. Maddison-Morton's Box and Cox. Now that I think on it, I also played the Maid in Ionesco's The Bald Soprano. The joys of type casting in an all boys' prep school! This may explain why, many years later, I do the bulk of the vacuuming around the house. I'll have to think on that further.

But, I digress. It is still a very sobering experience to gaze upon the pictures of myself in Box and Cox. With my fright wig and my mop, I look an awful lot like the Wicked Witch of the West.

This is what I love about the SavoyNet. I can think of no other place where I could bring up this particular bit of my life history. It's not exactly cocktail party conversation. At least, not in Durham, North Carolina....

MIKE NASH:

I can't resist mentioning the Savoynet Cox and Box at Buxton this year. I think everyone involved had a lot of fun. We found ourselves unable to have very many rehearsals -- I think it was about five -- as we (Nick Sales as Box and Musical Director, Kelsey Thornton as Cox, myself as Bouncer and Stage Director, Clive Woods as accompanist and Karen Ann Loxley as page-turner) had various other commitments such as other shows. I had never directed a show before, except for a "concert" production (everyone stood in front of microphones and sang) of a rock opera I wrote at university. I hadn't even seen Cox and Box performed until I saw the professional production at Philadelphia this year.

We couldn't get into the Paxton Theatre until an hour and a half before curtain up, so we had no time for a dress rehearsal. Everyone (except Clive and Karen Ann) made at least one gaffe: I cracked my high notes on "Rataplan", Kelsey and Nick forgot their receipts for rent and had to mime presenting them, and I forgot to tell Stephen Hill (props and off-stage voice saying "Oi! What d'you think you're playing at?" when Box throws the chop out the door) that the second off-stage voice's speech was cut, so he dutifully came in with it as Kelsey was singing "Who are you, sir?" But the show went on, everyone did their bit with 100% enthusiasm, the audience went away happy and Savoynet had every reason to be proud. Thanks once again to everyone involved.

We made good use of our differences in height too: Nick and Kelsey are both tall and well-built, whereas I'm slightly under average height and about 9 stone 4 (130 pounds). A Baby Bouncer, one might say.

CLIVE WOODS:

Ian Bond writes, "[O]n the 1978 recording, they did sing the Finale as in the 'Savoy version, but with just the second refrain." Thus it was performed at Buxton (this year) by Gareth Jones, Tom Round, and Michael Rayner. However, the intrepid Savoynetters (I am one) performed the entire Finale at Buxton as printed.

PHILIP STERNENBERG:

I was in the Zoo and Trial bookends of a 1981 Ridgewood G&S trilogy with Cox and Box (Savoy version) in the middle. The actors in the title roles had some memory problems. The rest of us were always wondering just what would come out of their mouths on any given day.

The prop that served as the letter from Penelope Ann always contained the text of what the dear lady had written, giving the leads one fewer piece of dialogue that had to be memorized -- that is, except for the final performance of the season. On that occasion, our heroes opened up the letter to find the following message from the Stage Manager: "Penelope Ann says you're on your own!" Naturally, the rest of us were in on the joke, and no one spilled the beans. Somehow our leads found the route to Mr. Knox, but it was quite tortuous!

BOB RICHARDS:

...A few years ago, Cardiff G&S performed... [Cox and Box], with Trial By Jury, for their one night's contribution to the Penarth Holiday Festival. We performed both pieces with just piano accompaniment, apart from Cox (me) playing the guitar during the duet. After the curtain call Bouncer then produced another set of letters that he'd forgotten; these summoned all three for Jury service - a neat way to link the two shows.

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