Setting the Scene

Mrs Bouncer has a scheme to get double rent from a single room. By day she lets it to Mr. Box and by night to Mr. Cox. Her plan works well until Mr. Box is given a day’s holiday and the two lodgers meet. They share more than the same bed. Cox is engaged to the widow Penelope Ann Wiggins – a fate that Box escaped by pretending to commit suicide. They gamble to see who keeps her. What happens when they hear Penelope is about to arrive? Cox and Box is based on the play Box and Cox, “A Romance of Real Life in One Act”. The libretto for this one act little masterpiece was adapted from the famous farce Box and Cox by John Madison Morton. This play was first produced at the Royal Lyceum Theatre, London, on Monday 1st November 1847. With this little work, Arthur Sullivan made his first entry into the world of comic opera. He had already completed his first operatic work during the early 1860’s, but that work (The Sapphire Necklace or The False Heiress) never reached the stage. Cox and Box received its first performance in private on 16 May 1866. This took place at Moray Lodge in Kensington, the home of Arthur Lewis, and the regular venue for the ‘Moray Minstrels’, a group of musicians, actors and artists. Burnand later claimed that the first performance actually took place at his house three days earlier, but this may have been no more than a rehearsal. A year later, the death of Punch artist, Charles Bennett, resulted in the piece being performed for the first time in public at the Adelphi Theatre, and from then on Cox and Box became a favourite, appearing as a curtain raiser to many productions world wide. Abridged even further, Cox and Box was again staged by the D’Oyly Carte in the 1920’s and continued, in the so called ‘Savoy Version’, to partner at various times The Sorcerer, H.M.S. Pinafore and The Pirates of Penzance well into the 1970’s.

The Production team

  • Produced & Directed – Dave Shepherd
  • Accompanist to the Company – Ann Szreter
  • Stage Manager – Rodney Ford
  • Assistant Stage Manager – Alan Carlile
  • Assisted by – Pat and Susan Ford
  • Lighting – Alastair Mackenzie
  • Make Up – David Johnson / Charles Scott
  • Costumes – Haslemere Wardrobe
  • Wardrobe Mistress – Sue Spittle
  • Sets – Stage Sets Limited
  • Prompt – Sue Goodes
  • Box Office Manageress – Janet Shepherd
  • Front of House – Clare Shepherd
  • Photography – Gerald Jones

The Cast

  • Cox – Matthew Stevens
  • Box – John Birkhead
  • Mrs Bouncer – Doris Porter
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