Sydney Granville as Sir Despard Murgatroyd in Ruddigore

Sydney Granville (1907-14, 1915-17, 1918-25, 1928-42)

[Born Bolton, Lancashire 4 Mar 1880, died Stockport, Cheshire 27 Dec 1959]

Sydney Granville, whose real name was Walter Dewhurst, made his first appearance on stage with the Moody-Manners Opera Company. He joined the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company chorus in April 1907 during the first London Repertory Season at the Savoy, going on a few times for Frank Wilson as the Earl of Mountararat in Iolanthe in July 1907. When the season ended he joined the D'Oyly Carte Repertory Opera Company on tour taking the small part of Selworthy in the curtain raiser After All!. He returned to the Savoy in April 1908 for the first part of the Second London Repertory Season, appearing from July as John Lloyd in Fenn & Faraday's A Welsh Sunset, the companion piece with H.M.S. Pinafore, and in August and September made a few appearances as Dick Deadeye in Pinafore in place of Henry A. Lytton.

Granville left the Savoy in October 1908 to launch a new tour of the Repertory Company. This time he had a part in all the operas:the Counsel to the Plaintiff in Trial by Jury, Bill Bobstay in H.M.S. Pinafore, Samuel in The Pirates of Penzance, Colonel Calverley in Patience, Strephon in Iolanthe, Arac in Princess Ida, Pish-Tush in The Mikado, the Lieutenant of the Tower in The Yeomen of the Guard, and Luiz in The Gondoliers. Except for January 27, 1909, when he was called to the Savoy as an emergency replacement Luiz, he played these roles on tour until March 1914, when he left the Company.

He returned to the D'Oyly Carte Repertory Opera Company in November 1915, taking the parts of Strephon and Luiz only in a nine-opera repertoire until June 1916. When the 1916-17 season began, Granville had lost even those roles to Leo Sheffield, though he did go on for Sheffield as Strephon in August 1916 and as Luiz in November. Granville left the D'Oyly Carte organization for the second time in June 1917.

In November 1918, Granville returned to the Repertory Company upon the departure of Frank Wilson. He was again a principal:playing the Counsel, Bobstay, Samuel, Strephon, Florian in Princess Ida, Pish-Tush, the Lieutenant, and Luiz for the remainder of the season, ending in June 1919. In 1919-20 he swapped the Counsel for the Usher in Trial by Jury, appeared once as Captain Corcoran in H.M.S. Pinafore (February 18, 1920), and added the Colonel (and occasionally appeared as Grosvenor) in Patience. In 1920-21 he switched from the Colonel to Grosvenor in Patience, and from Luiz to Giuseppe in The Gondoliers. In 1921-22 Cox and Box was added to the repertoire with Granville as Mr. Cox.

In 1922-23 he finally gave up one of his smaller parts, Samuel in The Pirates of Penzance, to Henry Millidge, and during the 1923-24 season yielded the Leiutenant in Yeomen to Joseph Griffin. Then in May 1925 he left for a short holiday before joining D'Oyly Carte's "New" Opera Company in July, where he would appear as the Colonel in Patience, Mountararat in Iolanthe, the Mikado in The Mikado, and Sir Roderic Murgatroyd in Ruddigore in their four opera repertoire.

In December 1925 he left the Carte organization for the third time:heading for Australia and New Zealand where he toured in Gilbert & Sullivan with the J. C. Williamson organization in 1926-27. It was on this tour that he first played the "heavy" baritone roles that he would take up later with the D'Oyly Carte. Returning to England in 1927 he toured in Robert Stulz's musical The Blue Train, before taking the part of Lockit in The Beggar's Opera, at the Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith, in February 1928.

Granville rejoined the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company in July 1928:this time replacing the retiring Leo Sheffield as the Learned Judge in Trial by Jury, the Sergeant of Police in The Pirates of Penzance, Private Willis in Iolanthe, Pooh-Bah in The Mikado, Sir Despard Murgatroyd in Ruddigore, and Don Alhambra in The Gondoliers. He added Wilfred Shadbolt when The Yeomen of the Guard was restored to the repertoire in July 1929, and, except for the 22-week London Season at the Savoy (October 1929-March 1930) in which Sheffield returned and played the Judge, Sergeant, Despard and the Don, played them all for the next several years. Granville added King Hildebrand in Princess Ida in August 1931, but yielded Hildebrand and Private Willis to newcomer Richard Watson in August 1932.

For the next two seasons (1932-34) Granville played the Judge, Sergeant, Pooh-Bah, Despard, Shadbolt, and Don Alhambra. He then reclaimed Willis and Hildebrand in August 1934 following Watson's departure, playing these seven roles until the end of the 1937-38 season. In September 1938 he gave up the Judge, and in 1939 Princess Ida was dropped from the D'Oyly Carte repertoire. In October 1940 Private Willis was taken over by Radley Flynn, and in 1940 Ruddigore was dropped from the repertoire. Over the next year-and-a-half, until his retirement in December 1942, Granville continued to play his four remaining roles (Sergeant, Pooh-Bah, Shadbolt, and Don Alhambra).

In the summer of 1946, Granville was offered a new contract by Rupert D'Oyly Carte. He signed the contract but soon had second thoughts and obtained his release before returning to the Company.

Granville was Pooh-Bah in the 1939 Technicolor film version of The Mikado. He may also be heard on several D'Oyly Carte HMV recordings of the operas:1922 H.M.S. Pinafore (as Captain Corcoran and Bill Bobstay), 1924 Princess Ida (Florian), 1929 Iolanthe (Private Willis), 1930 Pinafore (Bobstay), 1931 abridged Gondoliers (Don Alhambra), 1931 abridged Pirates (Sergeant), 1931 Ruddigore (Despard), 1931 abridged Yeomen (Shadbolt), and 1936 Mikado (Pooh-Bah).

"Granny," as he was known in the Company, was married to chorister and small part player Anna Bethell. Anna Bethell later served as stage director of the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company (1947-49).

Page modified September 16, 2017 © 2001-17 David Stone