April to July 2012 | Summer Season


Music by Edward German
Libretto by Basil Hood

Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays, 27, 28, 29 May, 3, 4, 5, 10, 11 and 12 June 2012

For details of our Returns Policy for sold out performances, please click here
except for


The first professional London production for 52 years

★★★★★ Five Stars, The Public Reviews 
★★★★ Four Stars, Whats On Stage


Originally written for the Savoy Theatre in 1902 and a longtime British musical classic, this rediscovery celebrates both the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee as well as the 150th anniversary of the birth of composer Edward German. Merrie England plays at the Finborough Theatre for a limited run of nine Sunday and Monday evening performances and Tuesday matinees.

Edward German's patriotic pageant deals with love and rivalries at the court of Queen Elizabeth I as the monarch visits the townsfolk of Windsor to celebrate May Day. With a plot that includes such historical personages as Sir Walter Raleigh and the Earl of Essex, murder plots and tales of witchcraft unravel to the background of the May Day revels...

An English light opera in the style made famous by Gilbert and Sullivan, Merrie England  features a prominent chorus and a range of principal numbers including ballads, patter songs, duets and quintets. German's engaging score, evoking the colourful Tudor period, includes the ballad Dan Cupid hath a Garden; Queen Elizabeth's song, O Peaceful England; and the stirring The Yeomen of England which was performed at Queen Elizabeth II's Golden Jubilee celebrations in 2002.


Sir Edward German (1862-1936) was born in Whitchurch, Shropshire. After studying at the Royal Academy, he was briefly an orchestral violinist before being employed as Musical Director at the Globe Theatre where he composed highly popular incidental music for plays. He also wrote symphonies, orchestral suites, symphonic poems, etc., of which his Welsh Rhapsody is best known. After Sullivan's death in 1901, German was commissioned to complete his unfinished opera The Emerald Isle, the success of which led to his own operettas Merrie England, A Princess of Kensington, Tom Jones and Fallen Fairies to W.S. Gilbert's libretto. Merrie England in particular quickly established itself as a British staple. In Queen Elizabeth II's coronation year, over five hundred amateur societies staged the piece. Edward German was knighted in 1928, and died in London in 1936.


Librettist and Lyricist Basil Hood (1864 - 1917) wrote the libretti of many Savoy Operas and English adaptations of operettas. Acclaimed as the 'new Gilbert', he turned out to have a much wider range than his famous predecessor at the Savoy Theatre. Hood’s first major success was with the long-running show, Gentleman Joe, after which he worked with such composers as Arthur Sullivan and Edward German. Hood and German’s collaborations included Merrie England and A Princess of Kensington. He later turned to adaptations of continental operettas, writing English versions of such works as The Merry Widow, The Dollar Princess and The Count of Luxembourg. At the outbreak of the First World War, he took up a demanding post in the British War Office, which is believed to have contributed to his early death.


Director Alex Sutton returns to the Finborough Theatre where he has directed the sell-out production of Chu Chin Chow (2008), starring Adele Anderson and Alan Cox, and was Assistant Director on Our Miss Gibbs (2006). Trained at Bristol University, VGIK Moscow, The Video College and the Young Vic. Directing includes the European premier of Ricky Ian Gordon's Orpheus and Euridice (Tête à Tête), The House Of Mirrors And Hearts (Edinburgh Festival and Arcola Theatre – MTM Fringe First winner) and The Elixir Of Love (Somerset Opera). As Assistant Director, he has worked on Zaide (Sadler's Wells), Coram Boy (National Theatre), Skellig: The Opera (The Sage, Gateshead), We Are Shadows (Spitalfields Music Summer Festival), La Traviata (Loughborough Festival Opera) and Gaudeamus (Arcola Theatre). Alex was the curator of the Grimeborn Opera Festival for which he also directed La Voix Humaine and was nominated for a Peter Brook Empty Space Award.


Trained at the Royal Academy of Music. He has worked as a musical director and composer in theatres all over the UK and the world. From 2009-2011, he played the role of the Song Man in the National Theatre’s multi-award winning War Horse in the West End. His musical The House of Mirrors and Hearts won the Musical Theatre Matters Award for Best Original Score at the Edinburgh Festival in 2010 and is currently in development for a London run. Eamonn is a frequent collaborator at Sir Peter Hall’s Rose Theatre in Kingston, where he has written and arranged music for Stephen Unwin’s A Christmas Carol, and Ciaran McConville’s Hamlet and Our Town. Other theatre includes The Caucasian Chalk Circle (Rose Theatre, Kingston), Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella (Tabard Theatre), The Massacre (Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds), Frankenstein – The Year Without A Summer (Dorset Corset Theatre Company), Liquorice and Smokerings (Pulse Festival, Ipswich) and A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Shakespeare in the Garden (Barakura Festival Theatre, Japan).



Sammy Andrews

Trained at Guildford School of Acting.

Theatre includes Jack and The Beanstalk (Salisbury Playhouse), Aladdin (Grand Theatre Wolverhampton), Aladdin (Theatre Royal Plymouth), This Thing Called Love (Jermyn Street Theatre), Baby, Sweet Charity, My Favourite Year (Guildford School of Acting) and Murder In The Cathedral, The Master and Margarita, Letters Of War (National Youth Theatre).

Concert includes My Fair Lady (Liverpool Philharmonic and Dublin RTE Orchestra).

Sammy is one third of the highly successful close harmony jazz trio The Pink Champagne Sisters.


Alexander Beck

Trained at Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts.

Theatre includes Bink and the Hairy Fairy (National Tour), The Stephen Sondheim Revue (Jermyn Street Theatre), Soviet Zion (Rosemary Branch Theatre), West Side Story, The Life (Albany Theatre), The Crucible (Karamel Club) and Merrily We Roll Along (Chelsea Theatre), 1916 The Musical (London Irish Centre), Dick Whittington and The Wizard Of Oz (Gaiety Theatre).


Jamie Birkett  

Trained at Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts.

Theatre includes Musical Starnights  (European Tour), Ragtime (Landor Theatre), The Hired Man (Landor Theatre), Fame (Grimaldi Forum, Monte Carlo), Aladdin (Maltings Theatre, Berwick-upon-Tweed), The Boy Friend (Her Majesty's Theatre), Once Upon A Time At The Adelphi (Union Theatre), Defect (Perfect Pitch), Personals, The Secret Garden and Oliver! (Theatre Royal, Newcastle).

Television includes Wire in the Blood, Rocketman and the BBC's I'd Do Anything in which Jamie reached the final eighteen.

Concerts include Sondheim's 80th Birthday BBC Prom (Royal Albert Hall) and North East Meets West End (Theatre Royal, Newcastle).


Daniel Cane 

At the Finborough Theatre, Daniel appeared in Gay’s The Word (2012). 

Trained at the Birmingham School of Acting and the Royal Academy of Music.
Theatre includes Thursford Christmas Spectacular 2011 (Thursford), The Love of the Nightingale  (National Tour), Blaze! (Bridewell Theatre) and The Snark and How to Hunt It and Isle of Joy (Tristan Bates Theatre).

Television includes Crimewatch.



Luke Courtier

Trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.
Theatre includes Coram Boy (National Theatre), 24 Hour Plays

(The Old Vic), As You Like It (West Yorkshire Playhouse), Henry IV, Part I and II (Theatre Royal Bath), Sex Toys (Waterloo East Theatre) and Opening Doors (Soho Theatre).


Stephen Darcy


Theatre includes Setanta (Fibin), Pushing up Poppies (Edinburgh Festival), Love’s Labours Lost (Guildford Shakespeare Company), The Tempest (Guildford Shakespeare Company),The Beauty Queen of Leenane (Lyric Theatre, Belfast), The Rover (Looking Glass House), Twelfth Night (Sprite Productions), Starving (Theatre 503), Wuthering Heights (REL Tour), Trance (Bush Theatre), Branwen (North Wales Stage and Project Theatre, Dublin), The Shaughraun (Abbey Theatre, Dublin, and Albery Theatre, London), Nebuchadnezzar (Latchmere Theatre), Becoming Strangers (Jackson's Lane Arts Centre), Dick Whittington (Arcola Theatre), Between Mouthfuls and A Talk in the Park (Bewleys), Nana (Samuel Beckett Theatre, Dublin) and Aspects of Love (Olympia Theatre, Dublin).

Television includes Seachtar Na Casca, The Take, Aifric, The Tudors, Paddywhackery, Frongoch, Teenage Kicks, Ros Na Run, Silent Witness and Mystic Knights.

Film includes The Cabin, Animal, The Chronoscope, Villains and The Longest Ditch.


Virge Gilchrist 

Theatre includes Ruben Guthrie (New Wimbledon Studio Theatre), Hamlet! The Musical  (Pleasance Edinburgh, Richmond Theatre and Theatre Royal Northampton), On the 20th Century, First Lady Suite (Union Theatre), A Touch of Spring (Far East Tour), It’s a Girl (Threshold Theatre Arts), Caste (Gate Theatre), Teething Troubles (National Tour), Newsrevue (Canal Café Theatre) and Rumours (English Theatre of Frankfurt).

Film includes Fever, Four Weddings and a Funeral and Absolute Beginners.

Television includes Chucklevision, Chef, One Foot In The Grave, Not A Penny More, Not A Penny Less, Bluefields, Brushstrokes, The Rector’s Wife, The Big One and Josie.

Radio includes The Laxian Key and Daughters of Britannia.

Voiceover work in narration, commercials and for corporate clients includes voicing both Princess Diana and Hilary Clinton for an animation project, Odette Churchill for the Imperial War Museum, and various characters for Harry Potter Lego.


Tom Giles

Trained at Dartington College of Arts.

Theatre includes The Recruiting Officer (Donmar Warehouse), As Within, So Without (Northern Stage), Pinocchio (Hull Truck Theatre), Raven Boy (Jackson's Lane Arts Centre), Adventures in Wonderland (Tour), Pinocchio (Theatre Royal Margate), The Problem with Being It (Wellingborough Theatre and the Cochrane Theatre), The Case of Baron Baritone (The Hat Factory),The Singing River (Royal Festival Hall), Much Ado about Nothing (National Tour), Lullaby of Broadway (Queen Elizabeth Theatre), Cinderella (Civic Theatre, Winsford) and The Merchant of Venice (National Tour).

Film includes Daylight Robbery, All of My Life, Belief, Massacre at Paris and Ople.

Television includes Spooks.


Stuart Hickey

At the Finborough Theatre, Stuart appeared in Our Miss Gibbs (2006).

Trained at the Royal Academy of Music.

Theatre includes The Wiz (Upstairs at The Gatehouse), Evita (National Tour), The 12 Tenors (European Tour), Parade (Edinburgh Festival), Jesus Christ Superstar (European Tour), The Wizard of Oz (Reading Hexagon) as well as numerous spells as lead vocalist aboard Star Cruises, Airtours Cruises, and RMS Queen Elizabeth 2.

Television includes Heartbeat.


Rachel Holbrook

Trained at Royal Academy of Music and Stuart Stage School.

Theatre includes Fast Forward Three (National Theatre), Production Shows (Queen Mary II, Cunard Flagship),The House of Mirrors and Hearts (Arcola Theatre and Edinburgh Festival), Next Thing You Know (Edinburgh Festival), The Winter’s Tale (Royal Academy of Music), A Bushel and a Peck (Jermyn Street Theatre) and Music on the Wards (Music in Hospitals).

Film includes The Bloodline and I’m Ruthie Segal, Hear Me Roar.

Television includes Backing Singer for Britain’s Got Talent.

Concerts include Concert for Stephen Sondheim’s 80th Birthday (Royal Albert Hall) Elton John Gala Performance (Royal Albert Hall) and The Concordia Foundation 10th Anniversary Gala Celebration (Queen Elizabeth Hall).


Nichola Jolley 

Trained at the Royal Academy of Music and Royal Northern College of Music. 

Theatre includes Showboat (Royal Albert Hall), Carmen (National Tour), The Merry Widow (Opera Holland Park), Tangier Tattoo (Glyndebourne Opera Festival), The Pirates of Penzance (Carl Rosa Opera Company), The Zoo, The Sorcerer and Trial By Jury (Charles Court Opera), The Mikado (King’s Head Theatre), The Thursford Christmas Spectacular (Thursford), Il Pomo D’oro (Batingano, Italy) and The Baker’s Wife (Royal Academy of Music).

Concerts include Elton John’s Gala Charity Concert (Royal Opera House).


Christopher Killik

Trained at the Bristol Academy of Arts and the Royal Academy of Music.

Theatre includes Love Story  (Duchess Theatre), Closer than Ever, The Hired Man (Focus Theatre Cheltenham), The Twelve Tenors (Germany Tour), Sail Away (Lillian Baylis Theatre at Sadler's Wells), Ash (Arcola Theatre) and Closer (English Theatre, Frankfurt)
Concerts include Chess in Concert (Royal Albert Hall) and Concert for Diana (Wembley Stadium).


Ruth Leavesley

Trained at Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama.

Theatre whilst training includes Merrily We Roll Along, Perceptions, Spring Storm, Thoroughly Modern Mille and West Side Story.

Concerts include BBC Proms (Royal Albert Hall), The Dream of Gerontius  and Carmina Burana (St David’s Hall, Cardiff).


Brendan Matthew 

At the Finborough Theatre, Brendan appeared in Me and Juliet (2010) and choreographed The Grand Duke (2012).
Trained at the Royal Academy of Music and the Doreen Bird College of Dance and Theatre Performance.  

Theatre includes Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella (Tabard Theatre), Fast Forward 3 (National Theatre), Girlfriends (Rose and Crown Theatre), High Society, The Diary of Anne Frank (Upstairs at the Gatehouse), Glee School 2 and 3 (Lost Theatre), Bushel and a Peck (Jermyn Street Theatre), From the Top (Landor Theatre), The Winter’s Tale (Royal Academy of Music), The Boy Friend, A Night for Jennifer, 1916 The Musical and La Boheme (West End).

Television includes Backing Singer for Britain’s Got Talent and the T-Mobile campaign Welcome Home.

Film includes Sleepy Hollow and Brief Encounters.

Television includes The Bill, Paul O'Grady Live Coming Home, Any Dream Will Do  and The BRIT Awards 2003.

Concerts include Elton John in Concert (Royal Albert Hall).


Michael Riseley 

Trained at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, where he was the winner of the Welsh Musical Theatre Young Singer of the Year competition.

Theatre includes The Last Five Years (Grand Theatre, Swansea), The Thursford Christmas Spectacular (Thursford), Sweeney Todd (Wales Millennium Centre, as well as a spell as Principal Vocalist on board the Queen Victoria (Belinda King Creative Productions for Cunard).

Television incudes Dechrau Canu, Dechrau Canmol.

Recording includes My Land’s Shore.


Jody Ellen Robinson

Trained at the Royal Academy of Music.

Theatre includes Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella (Tabard Theatre), Company Follies (Jack Lyons Theatre) and Nobody's Perfect (Jermyn Street Theatre).

Concerts include One Sun One World (Royal Albert Hall), Dress Circle Benefit (Her Majesty's Theatre) and Concert for Stephen Sondheim’s 80th Birthday (Royal Academy of Music).


Gemma Sandzer


At the Finborough Theatre, Gemma appeared in Perchance to Dream (2011).

Trained at the Sylvia Young Theatre School.
Theatre includes Les Miserables (Palace Theatre). Children of Eden (Prince of Wales Theatre), Hair (European Tour), HMS Pinafore (King’s Head Theatre), The Thursford Christmas Spectacular (Thursford), Toad Hall (The Steam Industry at The Scoop) and Oliver Twist (Lion and Unicorn Theatre). 


Rhys Saunders

Trained at Rose Bruford College.

Theatre includes The Sinking of The Arandora Star (Dylan Thomas Theatre, Swansea), A Feast of Festive Fun, Twilight Tales, Tall Tales (Clwyd Theatr Cymru), The Jungle Book (National Tour), The Snow Queen (National Tour), Never Saw The Day (National Tour) and Frida and Diego - A Love Story (National Youth Theatre of Wales).


“Not one dull moment in this delightful and exhilarating production” Carolin Kopplin, UK Theatre Network

“A terrific production, deserving of a larger stage” Carole Gordon, WhatsOnStage

“A scream of a success... Genuine belly laughs come from all angles” Ian Foster, The Public Reviews

Merrie England is the epitome of rollicking good fun - light, frivolous, old-fashioned yet timely, and packed with witty songs, charming countryfolk and aloof courtiers” Carole Gordon, WhatsOnStage

“The play is set in the court of Queen Elizabeth I as she visits the Mayday celebrations in the village of Windsor...But even this synopsis can’t capture a fraction of the raucous, anarchic fun which is generated on the stage here in this microcosm of eccentric England” Ian Foster, The Public Reviews

“There’s not a patriotic stereotype left untouched, yet the warmth and affection with which the whole thing is played pitches it at just the right level” Ian Foster, The Public Reviews

“To anyone who loves Monty Python and Blackadder, this type of comedy will resonate and certainly delight.” Sophie Lieven, One Stop Arts

“Merrie England captures the Jubilee spirit in just the right gleeful way, reverently irreverent to coin a phrase, and just sheer unadulterated fun. If any investors are looking for a show to give a helping hand to and bring into town, then it is time to get merrie.” Ian Foster, The Public Reviews

“German’s gossamer-light music and some gloriously silly performance" Ian Foster, The Public Reviews

“The cast perform with gusto and then some” Carole Gordon, WhatsOnStage

“The voices individually and collectively soar joyously” Carole Gordon, WhatsOnStage

“Standouts for me included Daniel Cane’s expansive thespian Walter Wilkins and his hilarious A-Z rendition of Romeo and Juliet, Stephen Darcy’s devilishly foppish Earl of Essex, goofing in the best way possible, the double act of Christoper Killik and Stuart Hickey as battling brothers Long Tom and Big Ben, Jamie Birkett (who is slowly making herself one to watch) as the shrill, attention-seeking May Queen and Nichola Jolley emerges with a great vocal performance as Jill-All-Alone” Ian Foster, The Public Reviews

“The crystal voice of Jamie Birkett as a very fetching but commonly mannered May Queen. Her recurring comic despair at the foolishness of the other villagers is perfectly delivered, while her ability to say more with a knowing glance than could be conveyed with any amount of script is a highlight of the show.” Gareth Richardson, Bargain Theatre

“Daniel Cane effortlessly steals his every scene with a gloriously over-the-top and highly physical portrayal of Shakespearean actor Walter Wilkins.” Carole Gordon, WhatsOnStage

“The charismatic and elegant Daniel Cane shines as the Shakespearean player Walter Wilkins. His A to Z song about Romeo and Juliet is hilariously funny.” Carolin Kopplin, UK Theatre Network

“Daniel Cane as Walter Wilkins is a delight, with a genuine sense of the preposterous which shines every time he is on stage. He delivers every line brilliantly, exposing jokes in the script and adding his own with some wonderfully conceived physical jokes which get the audience hooting with laughter throughout.” Sophie Lieven, One Stop Arts

“Nichola Jolley's performance as Jill-All-Alone is intense and touching. Her rendition of Oh! Where the Deer Do Lie is lyrical and deeply moving.” Carolin Kopplin, UK Theatre Network

"Nichola Jolley's Jill-All-Alone is full of pathos and vulnerability.” Carole Gordon, WhatsOnStage

“Nichola Jolley as Jill-All-Alone shines. She has a wonderful voice and yet does not pander to it, delivering a characterisation with more depth than you will find in the average performance of light opera.” Sophie Lieven, One Stop Arts

“Stephen Darcy is suave and sly” Carolin Kopplin, UK Theatre Network

“Sir Walter Raleigh is played with authority by Michael Riseley.” Carole Gordon, WhatsOnStage

“Stand-out vocals also come from Gemma Sandzer’s passionate solo as the Queen’s lady-in-waiting, Bessie Throckmorton” Gareth Richardson, Bargain Theatre

“Queen Elizabeth is played regally by Virge Gilchrist, looking every inch the part” Gareth Richardson, Bargain Theatre

“Virge Gilchrist gives a very funny performance as the disoriented, egocentric Queen who joyfully joins in when the villagers sing her praise.” Carolin Kopplin, UK Theatre Network

“This Queen Elizabeth (Virge Gilchrist) is closer to Blackadder's version of comedy queen - spaced-out, crown askew, never quite knowing whether to join in with the songs about herself.” Carole Gordon, WhatsOnStage

“The Finborough’s policy of celebrating neglected British musical theatre has unearthed much of interest for fans of the genre, though it is probably safe to say that there have been as many which will remain curiosities as there have bona fide successes worthy of further recognition and reappraisal. It is therefore most pleasing to discover that their latest rediscovery...is a genuine contender for the latter category.” Ian Foster, The Public Reviews


Also directed by Alex Sutton
"The show's 23 numbers are zestfully played by Leigh Thompson's five-piece band and punchily delivered by the 12-strong cast." Michael Billington, The Guardian
"The cast sing up a positive storm...quite enchanting."  Aline Waites, WhatsOnStage
"The Finborough is to be thanked and congratulated on giving us this taste of Chu Chin Chow."  Barry Grantham, Extra Extra
"Yet another treat for fans and historians of musical theatre"  Aline Waites, WhatsOnStage
"Musical Director, Leigh Thompson, and his fellow musicians...evoke so much of the exotic charm of the original." Barry Grantham, Extra Extra


In 2006, the Finborough Theatre began the Celebrating British Music Theatre series with a sell-out production of Leslie Stuart’s Florodora. Productions since then have included sell-out rediscoveries of Lionel Monckton’s Our Miss Gibbs, Harold Fraser-Simson’s operetta The Maid of the Mountains, A "Gilbert and Sullivan" Double Bill featuring Gilbert’s play Sweethearts and Sullivan’s opera The Zoo, Dame Ethel Smyth’s opera The Boatswain’s Mate, Sandy Wilson’s The Buccaneer, Oscar Asche’s Chu Chin Chow, Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley's The Roar of the Greasepaint – The Smell of the Crowd, two shows by Ivor Novello – Perchance to Dream and Gay's The Word, and the first ever fully-staged professional revival of Gilbert and Sullivan's last operetta, The Grand Duke.


Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays, 27, 28, 29 May, 3, 4, 5, 10, 11 and 12 June 2012

Evenings at 7.30pm

Tuesday matinees at 2.00pm

Tickets £18, £15 concessions



For details of our Returns Policy for sold out performances, please click here

Image copyright Kathryn Morris http://kathrynmorris.weebly.com

Music by Edward German

Libretto by Basil Hood

Directed by Alex Sutton

Musical Direction by Eamonn O' Dwyer

Design by Philip Lindley

Lighting design by Miguel Vicente

Costume Design by Sophia Anastasiou

Presented by Citric Acid in association with Neil McPherson for the Finborough Theatre.