Very unpopular indeed was the selection procedure, which over-shadowed us towards the end of the Christmas Term. It began with a compulsory audition, but the final choice of appearing, as long as you were up to standard was left to the individual - or so we were told! After placing, like many others, an option of "willing, if pressed" we were vainly confident that we had heard the last of it. Many were called and most were chosen.
Musical scores and libretti were then issued and these made the production seem less remote and
more coherent. By now we had a deadline - 13th March and some of the means to attain it, so with
little more than eight weeks to go rehearsals began in earnest. Soon confidence and performance
were improving hand-in-hand and later the girls' chorus started to rehearse with us after
school. By now the total number in the cast had risen to seventy-two, which shows how much
musical and dramatic talent had been lying dormant in the Upper School.
The Dress Rehearsal was at last upon us, and we heard the orchestra that was to accompany us for the first time. Thanks to the skill of the make-up department and what looked suspiciously like the contents of the Staff-room Ashtrays, our motley pirate crew, grisly, scarred and sun-tanned, would have done credit to any swashbuckling Pirate King.
The first performance went very smoothly, with no hold-ups or hitches, or any of those whims of
fate that usually beset a First Night. (The Prompter was out-of-work all through the week.)
The cast and the orchestra both improved as the week progressed, and the audience response was
very heartening. There were a few diversions to keep the performances ever spontaneous. The
Battle Scene between the pirates and the policemen never began, nor ended, at the pre-rehearsed
times. The pirates insisted on giving the police an extra dig in the side with their swords,
while the police retaliated with their truncheons at every opportune moment. (Incidentally, this
became a patent Salvatorian method of indicating a missed cue.)
This account would be incomplete were we to fail to mention the two people without whom, as the
phrase goes, the entire production would not have been possible. They are, of course, our
co-producers Mr. P. Byrne, who was also Musical Director, and Mr. C.F. Tufnell. Their masterful
guidance from the first informal rehearsal to the last performance ensured a confidence without
which the production would have lacked its tremendous verve and vitality. Our thanks to them
both. Our thanks are also due to the parents who provided us with such a large number of really
splendid costumes, to Mrs. E. Griffiths who as Wardrobe Mistress organised the wearing of them,
to Mr. J.H. Henry who managed the Box Office so well that tickets were absolutely sold out one
week before the Dress Rehearsal, to the Stage Crew who probably put in as many appearances and
man-hours as the three choruses put together, and to hosts of others who lent their help in one
way or another.