The performers

June 2001

Here are some brief biographies of our most frequent contributors to twenty years of Chimes concerts. We thank them for their talent, dedication, fun and friendship.

Cassie Cassie Tillett's experience in local theatrical and musical societies, in London and now in Norfolk, includes Magnolia in Showboat, Velma in Chicago and Countess Charlotte Malcolm in A Little Night Music, Martha in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Rosalind in As You Like It and Mistress Page in The Merry Wives of Windsor, together with many performances in concerts and revue. She created Chimes Musical Theatre in 1987.
Selwyn Selwyn Tillett was for many years Chairman of the Sir Arthur Sullivan Society and has an extensive interest in all aspects of the nineteenth century British musical theatre. He has written widely on the pre-production and early performing history of the operas of Sullivan and his contemporaries, and has made a special study of 1890s operas. He has extensive experience as an accompanist and choral director, and in 1990 was one of co-discoverers of Sullivan's ballet music for the first G&S opera Thespis. Selwyn trained as an ancient historian and in his spare time is Rector of The Wensum Group of Churches in Norfolk. He was the regular accompanist for Chimes Musical Theatre.
Pam Pam Akhurst was born in Wales. A former Head of Music at St Philomena’s School, Carshalton, she has an extensive repertoire, and has sung many roles, including Hansel in Hansel und Gretel, Eurydice in Orpheus in the Underworld, Rosalinda in Die Fledermaus and the title role in Hello, Dolly! She has also sung oratorio with numerous groups in London and the south-east.
Leon Leon Berger has taken major guest roles with ENO, the Royal Opera House, Welsh National Opera, Scottish Opera, New Sadler's Wells and many touring companies. Recordings include cast albums of The Merry Widow, Pacific Overtures, Joe Carpenter & Son, Cox & Box, a solo album of George Grossmith's comic songs, and Sullivan's The Masque At Kenilworth. He is a featured soloist on the BBC series Lives Of Jesus (for which he wrote the lyrics), and has recorded Gilbert's His Excellency in the new version by Terry Hawes. Leon has played lyric and patter roles in all G&S operas for many companies including G&S For All, The Magic of D'Oyly Carte, New Savoyards of London, Gawsworth Summer Opera and G&S Unlimited. Leon is an Hon Life Member of the Sir Arthur Sullivan Society for whom he sang Ludwig in the Centenary Grand Duke and Lucifer in The Golden Legend. He is archivist to the late Donald Swann and is writing the authorised biography of Michael Flanders.
Stephen Stephen Brown studied at the Royal College of Music Opera School with Neil Mackie. He sings regularly the standard oratorio repertoire and is otherwise particularly drawn to comic opera, having played numerous Gilbert & Sullivan roles. His operatic roles include Rodolfo (La Bohème), Don Ottavio (Don Giovanni), Tamino (Die Zauberflöte), Troufaldino (The Love for Three Oranges) and the Mayor in Britten's Albert Herring. He has worked with Kent Opera, for Almeida Opera in London and the Aldeburgh Festival, and for the New D'Oyly Carte Opera Company in The Pirates of Penzance. He is a popular concert singer and performances include the St Matthew Passion in Iceland and London with Peter Schreier, concerts in Romania and India and broadcasts on French and Viennese radio. He appears as a soloist on the Sir Arthur Sullivan Society's recent CD recording The Masque at Kenilworth - Music for Royal and National Occasions. Stephen is also an experienced conductor and arranger.
Camilla Camilla Cutts was born in Nairobi and came to the UK when she was 18. She graduated in performance at Trinity College of Music where she studied with Wendy Eathorne and Robert Aldwinkle, appearing in Samuel Barber's Vanessa and the première of Goldschmidt's Beatrice Cenci. Other roles include Pulcherio in Mozart's The Deluded Bridegroom, a recording of Sullivan's The Rose of Persia for BBC Music Magazine, Carmen and L'Elisir d'amore. She has toured Australia and New Zealand with Carl Rosa; G&S roles include the Duchess in The Gondoliers, Dame Carruthers in The Yeomen of the Guard, and Lady Psyche in Princess Ida.
Chris Chris Gutteridge has always enjoyed performing in plays and musicals since his debut in Iolanthe aged 11. Chris studied French and Drama at London University and the Central School of Drama, where he took diverse roles including a skinhead in Berkoff's West, a gangster in Kiss Me Kate, and sang in the revue Jacques Brel is alive and well and living in Paris.
Neville Neville Hargreaves has been singing on stage and in concerts since the 1980s and studies with Brian Parsons. In professional life he is a management consultant, but he has not forgotten his love for opera and musicals, and he is a regular member of Imperial Opera. He has also performed with Oxford Touring Opera, Musica nel Chiostro (Batignano), Morley Opera and others. Roles include The Count The Marriage of Figaro, Taddeo The Italian Girl in Algiers, Ford Sir John in Love, Narrator Into the Woods, Mr Lindqvist A Little Night Music, Larry Company and Mr Jones Street Scene - come to think of it, he seems to specialise in down-trodden or cuckolded husbands.
Annie Annie Henry was classically trained in her teens and enjoyed singing light opera, lieder and choral music. Annie started playing guitar at school and soon formed her first band "The Variations", an all girl guitar based group - probably the original 'girl band'. She has worked with rock, jazz, covers, ceilidh and Country and Western outfits.
Paul Paul Kirkbright began his theatrical career at the age of eight in a production of The King and I in his home town of Bolton. At the age of 11 he played the title role in Oliver! for Cameron Mackintosh at the Palace Theatre, Manchester. He then made two series of Jossy’s Giants for the BBC and several appearances in TV and film for Granada, Yorkshire TV and Channel 4. Paul has performed with many amateur societies but his “home” society has always been St Philips AODS, Bolton for whom he has both performed and directed. Favourite roles have included Jesus in Jesus Christ Superstar, Riff in West Side Story, Harold Hill in The Music Man, Sebastian in Brideshead Revisited and Cable in South Pacific.
David David Menezes was born in Barnsley. He studied Classics at Oxford before moving on to study singing at the Royal College of Music. Apart from Gilbert & Sullivan, his stage experience includes roles as diverse as the Steersman in Wagner's The Flying Dutchman and Percival Browne in Sandy Wilson's The Boyfriend. Since leaving college David has appeared with Holland Park, Carl Rosa, the Gilbert & Sullivan Opera Company, Wexford Festival, Grange Park, and as Colonel Fairfax in British Youth Opera's production of The Yeomen of the Guard. David's repertoire as a concert soloist ranges from Haydn's Maria Theresa Mass, Handel's Messiah, Mendelssohn's Elijah, Bach's St John Passion and Mozart's Requiem to Gershwin, Porter and Coward.
Elizabeth Elizabeth Menezes was born in Barnsley. She read Classics and French at St John's College, Oxford, and worked with people with learning difficulties before gaining an M.Mus at Trinity College of Music. She has played the roles of Peep-Bo, Isabel, Fleta, Phyllis and Casilda for Carl Rosa Opera, and took part in their recent tour of Australia and New Zealand. She is in demand as a soloist, especially in oratorio. Although most at home in operetta, she also enjoys opera, musical theatre and popular song, often in concert with her brother David.
Deborah Deborah Miles-Johnson was born in London and studied at the Royal College of Music. She now fulfills a busy and varied career performing regularly in all the major London concert venues and throughout the UK. Engagements in recent seasons include Stravinsky's Requiem Canticles which she has performed with both Simon Rattle (CBSO) and Andrew Davies (BBCSO), The Dream of Gerontius with the New Queens Hall Orchestra under Matthew Best, Mendelssohn's Elijah in Toronto, Mozart's Mass in C Minor at the Barbican and Verdi's Requiem at St George's Chapel, Windsor. Among her commercial recordings are Peter Maxwell Davies' Resurrection with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, Arvo Part's Stabat Mater and Carl Rutti's Magnificat for ASV. A regular performer of Rutti's music, she performed the world premiere of the Magnificat at the 1999 Proms and his Stabat Mater at St John's Smith Square. She made her Wigmore Hall debut performing Upon Silence by George Benjamin with the composer as conductor, together with the viol group Fretwork, following performances at the Festival Archipel in Geneva.
Debra Debra Morley has appeared as a soprano soloist on the South Bank, including Dear Wolfgang Amadeus and The Age of Belcanto in The Purcell Room. She has won numerous prizes, including the North of England Tournament Trust and Geraint Evans prizes, to continue her studies at the Bonn Opera and the RSAMD, and has recently been awarded the prestigious Madeline Finden Memorial Award, resulting in a prize-winners' concert at St John's Smith Square. As well as concert and oratorio work, she has performed on the operatic stage on tour for London Opera Players, Crystal Clear Opera, Opera Interludes and Opera della Luna, and roles performed include: Lucia (Edinburgh Festival Theatre), The Queen of the Night, Gilda, Amina, Adele, Micaela, Adina, Madame Herz, Norina, Mabel and Rose Maybud. Recordings include soprano soloist in Kaiser's Christmas Cantata on the Classics for Pleasure label.
Paul Paul Norcross-King left a career in the city to study at Trinity College of Music London, where he gained a BMus and MMus, and was a prize-winner. Paul has toured both nationally and internationally both as one of Ireland’s Three Tenors and of Twelve Irish Tenors, for which he was both Vocal Captain and Dance Captain, and also was MD in Reno. He has also appeared as a lead in Broadway: A Star-Spangled Celebration in Branson, Missouri. He appeared as Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol at the Palace Theatre, Myrtle Beach SC. Most recently, he has toured the Netherlands as one of The Tenors as Vocal Captain and Assistant Director. He has given recitals and concerts in the U.K., Europe, Africa and America.
Ellis Ellis C Pike has performed roles in stage, film and TV as diverse as Jesus in Jesus Christ Superstar and the Devil in Dvorak’s The Devil & Kate. Other parts include Macheath in The Beggar’s Opera, Polyphemus in Acis & Galatea, Captain Von Trapp in The Sound Of Music, Count Almaviva in the Marriage of Figaro, Falstaff in Sir John In Love, the eponymous Paul Bunyan in Britten’s opera, principal roles in nearly all the G&S operas, and further roles from opera to pantomime. Ellis has featured as a ‘Magic Lantern Showman’ in BBC’s Blue Peter and as King Henry VIII on the BBC’s Learning Zone, as well as featured appearances on national TV. He was recently seen on BBC Knowledge as George, Prince Regent, in the Princes In Waiting series.
Alison Alison Roddy was born in Dublin. Her recent roles include Wellgunde (Das Rheingold - New Zealand Symphony Orchestra tour), Lucille in the British premiere of Danton's Death (Brighton Festival), Arsena (Der Zigeunerbaron - RTE/Opera Ireland), Frasquita (Carmen - Dublin & Ottowa), Cupid (Orpheus - Cork); also broadcasts of Carmina Burana and Rutter's Magnificat. Concert work in the UK includes Stabat Mater (Rossini), A Child of Our Time (Tippett) and both the Rutter and Faure Requiems. Her awards include the John McCormack Golden Voice 1994, and the Lies Askonas and Nicholls Harty prizes at the Royal College of Music. She studied at the National Opera Studio on a scholarship from English National Opera, and recorded Sullivan's opera The Rose of Persia with the Hanover Band for the BBC. She is has played leading roles at the ENO, including Yum-Yum in the Jonathan Miller production of The Mikado and Rosina in The Barber of Seville.
Rebecca Rebecca Smith graduated from Trinity College of Music, and continues studying privately with Hazel Wood. Awards include a Tillet Trust scholarship, and, at Trinity, the Vocal Department Award, the English Song Prize, the Morag Noble Memorial Scholarship, and the Greenhouse Allt Prize for oratorio & cantata. Operatic roles vary from the Messenger in Maderna's realisation of Monteverdi's Orfeo, to Jocaste in Stravinsky's Oedipus Rex. She made her Purcell Room debut with the Company of Singers & Players performing scenes from Herodiade (Massenet) and Samson et Dalila (Saint-Saens). Rebecca has made regular appearances on the concert stage, both in recital and oratorio, including a recital tour of Brittany and Normandy, and engagements in venues such as St George's Hanover Square and St Martin-in-the-Fields.
Melanie Melanie Short completed her acting training at ARTTS International. Roles include Susanna in The Herbal Bed, Constance in The Three Musketeers, May in Salt of the Earth, Ann in Half a Sixpence. She has worked on a number of charity shows, including the Royal Gala performance of A Moment in Time at Richmond Theatre. Melanie sings at weddings and various functions and has devised & performed her own one-woman show, The Undress Rehearsal, aka Tits & Ass - the career path of an actress in song.
Joanna Joanna Soane studied Clarinet and singing at Trinity College of Music and the Royal College of Music, her teachers included Kenneth Woollam and Morag Noble; she is currently studying with Phillip Doghan. Joanna started her career as a mezzo-soprano and in this capacity performed, among others, Cherubino, The Marriage of Figaro; Hansel, Hansel and Gretel; Jenny Diver, The Beggars Opera with members of the Consort of Early Music and the title role in Iolanthe for the Buxton Gilbert & Sullivan Festival. Since re-training as a soprano Joanna has played the role of Lidoshka in Shostakovich’s opera Cheryomushki, Mabel The Pirates of Penzance and Angelina Trial By Jury for Grim’s Dyke Opera.
Zoe Zoë White has sung repertoire ranging from turn of the century operetta to English and American song to Broadway show tunes. She has also performed in operas and shows with troupes both in the UK and her native USA. Principal roles include Magic Flute (Papagena/First Lady), Die Fledermaus (Orlofsky), La Traviata (Flora), Pirates of Penzance (Ruth), Utopia (Kalyba), and The Boy Friend (Hortense). With East Berkshire Operatic Society she has played Elsie Maynard in The Yeomen of the Guard and Julie Jordan in Carousel, and with Park Opera she performed as Alice in Count Ory. She also played Daphne in the Spencer/Tillett reconstruction of Thespis performed by Chimes.