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Martins Bank Society of the Arts (Music Section) in Trial by Jury by Gilbert and Sullivan

Staged: 20th and 21th May 1947 at the YMCA Theatre Birkenhead


To begin with, Martins Bank Society of the Arts runs on the principle of “a smile, a song, and a recitation”. Split three ways, the various singers, dancers and actors, and budding artists each have their own “section” of the society in which to operate.  Within a few short years, the Operatic Society will emerge triumphant from this arrangement, the acting being taken on by the various groups of regional players, and the art being catered for by an annual arts and crafts show at Head Office.

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Trial by Jury is amongst the first operatic productions to be staged  post-war by the Society of the Arts.  Thanks to the generosity of the late Beryl Creer, we are able to provide the image below from a photograph in her own personal archive. (At this time as Beryl Evans), she can be seen as the third lady in a wedding dress from the left!  In 1947, Martins Bank Magazine is on hand, (just as it will be for the next twenty-two years) to provide reviews and write ups of some of the most ambitious amateur operatic and dramatic productions in the country…


1947 02.jpgON May 20th and 21st, the audience assembled in the Y.M.C.A. Theatre, at Birkenhead, enjoyed a very spirited performance of “Trial by Jury”, the contribution of the Music Section to the evening's entertainment. The singing and acting were of a high standard throughout, and surely the cast owed much of their success to the fact that they themselves entered the spirit of the play with such evident enjoyment. The Usher (Mr. R. Webster) provoked much mirth in his efforts to keep order in court, while Mr  J. Barlow, as the Defendant, delighted everyone by his fine tenor voice and polished acting.  The Counsel for the Plaintiff (Mr. A. Pope) sang and played his part well, while his client (Miss Mary Nelson) in her white bridal dress won all hearts by her charming performance. Mary had the ill-luck to lose her voice a day or two before the show and she was unable to sing properly at either performance. 

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The whole company (no individual names provided)

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Muriel Jones, the First Bridesmaid, doubled the part so far as the singing was concerned, and did it extremely well, many people being unaware of the difficulty.  The benevolent old judge (Mr  Howard Venn) presided over the court with a rollicking good humour, and sang his part with Great zest,  being ably supported by an excellent chorus of Gentlemen of the Jury, Barristers, Attorneys and a very gay and spirited Public.  Special mention should be made of the eight Bridesmaids, whose delightfully pretty dresses added much to the gaiety of the scene. The accompanists, Messrs. H. F. R. Boothman and Percy Jones, carried out their rather exacting role with great skill, and gave an excellent support to the singers. We feel that all who saw this production will agree that the Conductor (Mr. Spencer Hayes) and the Producer (Mrs. R. W. Hall) are to be congratulated on a very high standard of achievement.