Review: Los Ladrones at the Bognor Regis Music Club

For more than 11 years, vocal quintet, Los Ladrones, have brought forgotten works to modern audiences.

On June 15th, at the Bognor Regis Music Club, the experienced vocalists presented two one-act operettas penned by Victorian librettist, Bolton Rowe – ‘Charity Begins at Home’, composed in 1872 by Alfred Cellier and the more celebrated, The Zoo, with music by Sir Arthur Sullivan from 1875.

The wit and humour of these 150-year-old pieces was fully realised and the audience laughed at the characters’ predicaments.

The wonderful blend of the ensemble voices, particularly powerful in the choruses of The Zoo, was matched by well-observed and execellently sung individual performances. Jane Marett’s rich soprano soared throughout and was matched by Simon Cooksey’s lyric tenor in the thwarted lover roles. Irene Cooksey was perfectly cast as the put-upon Mrs Bumpus and the virtuous cockney manager of the refreshment stall at the Zoological Gardens, Eliza Smith. John Butt had enormous fun playing, in turn, young school boy, Joe Bumpus, and Duke-in-disguise, Thomas Brown, complete with ermine cloak and coronet! Mike Powell relished playing the villains, the pompous jobs-worth, Beadle Bumpus, and despot father, Mr Grinder, who was booed by the audience on several occasions.

The ensemble was expertly accompanied by Nigel Smith at the piano and additional narration was performed by Marion Porter.

Musical director, Geoff Porter, brings out the very best from his trusted collaborators and breathes new life into these works, transporting us back to the heyday of Victorian comic opera.

A thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining evening and we are already planning a return performance. Los Ladrones would make a fantastic addition to a concert programme.

Ian Clark
Chair, Bognor Regis Music Club

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