The scene is an early 19th century Cornish village called Rederring. The corps of professional bridesmaids is in despair because the town’s prettiest girl. Rose Maybud, remains unwed. Rose is a sweet, orphan girl who relies for guidance on her book of etiquette. This book forbids her to be so immodest as to disclose her love for the young farmer, Robin, who is almost to shy to court her.
Little does Rose know that Robin is in fact Sir Ruthven Murgatroyd, the cursed Baron of Ruddigore. The holder of this title has been doomed to commit a crime a day or die in agony. However, twenty years earlier, in an attempt to escape the hereditary curse, he had feigned death and assumed the name of Robin Oakapple. This forced his younger brother, Despard, to take over the wretched curse. Along comes Richard, his sea-faring foster brother, who volunteers to woo Rose on shy Robin’s behalf. He too becomes smitten with her charms and the two pledge eternal love. Rose then has to decide between her two suitors, and finally chooses Robin. Festivities begin with the news of a wedding and the arrival of a city gentlemen, exciting the near desperate bridemaids. However. The festivities are short-lived due to the arrival of the menacing Sir Despard Murgatroyd. He reveals Robin’s true identity and in the finale of Act I, Rose, unwilling to marry a bad Baronet, promises herself to Richard. Act II takes place in the picture gallery of Ruddigore Castle among the portraits of previous baronet. Robin, now Sir Ruthven, must live up to his villainous reputation. Rose and Richard arrive to ask consent for their wedding, which Ruthven finally gives after Rose’s pleading. The portraits who have witnessed this scene then come to life, and their leader, Sir Roderic, accuses Ruthven of shirking his criminal duty. After ordering him to carry off a lady that very day they return to their frames. Newly reformed and virtuous, Despard and Margaret, then arrive to discharge their moral duty of persuading Ruthven to abstain from evil – even though this will mean his death. To add to the confusion, Robin’s servant, Adam, then returns with the lady he has obediently stolen for Ruthven. She just happens to be Dame Hannah, an old love of his ancestor, Sir Roderic. Seeing her, Sir Roderic comes to life and claims his former sweetheart. With the characters all assembled Ruthven argues thus:
· A Baronet of Ruddigore can only die by refusing to commit a daily crime
· Therefore, such refusal is tantamount to suicide
· But suicide is a crime.
So – Sir Roderic should never have died at all, and is, for all purposes alive! This also leaves Ruthven free to abandon the curse.
In the end, Ruthven embraces Rose, Despard embraces Margaret, Sir Roderic embraces Dame Hannah and Richard finds consolation with Zorah, one of the bridesmaids.
So all ends up happily in song and dance.
Director – Marjorie Simpson
Choreographer – Anne Kay
Musical Director – Kate Palethorpe
Assistant Director – Michael Kay
Rehearsal Pianist – Patricia Gleeson
Fred Jones (Sir Ruthven Murgatroyd), Robert Lashmore (Richard Dauntless), Bryan Dalton (Sir Despard Murgatroyd), Fred Waski (Old Adam Goodhart), Moira Hooker (Rose Maybud), Barbara Benson (Mad Margaret), Janet Kay (Dame Hannah), Elizabeth Ward (Zorah), Sonja Barry (Ruth), Betty Tougher (The Bridemaid Chaperone), Robert Neill (Sir Roderick Murgatroyd), Lorraine Baines, Lisa Balaschow, Jan Beck, Lynne Chester, Michelle Croudace, Judy Kennedy, Helen Kennedy, Cilla Norris, Danielle Norton, Andrew Austin, Bill Barry, Brendan Fitzgerald, Ross Clarke, Craig Curran, Neville Davies, Don Donaldson, Rodney Edwards, Keith Gorman, Trevor Shepherd.