Fishergate Bollard's return to stage stardom at the 25th International Gilbert and Sullivan Festival

The Fishergate Bollard on the set of Ruddigore with artists Ann Cooper (left) and Sheila Wright
The Fishergate Bollard on the set of Ruddigore with artists Ann Cooper (left) and Sheila Wright
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The notorious Fishergate Bollard is set to fly the red rose flag high when it travels across the Pennines to star in a stellar stage production.

A prop replica of the popular vehicle magnet will travel to Harrogate, North Yorkshire, to star in the Preston Gilbert and Sullivan Society’s comic opera ‘Ruddigore’ at the 25th International Gilbert and Sullivan Festival.

Rowena Perry as Mad Margaret with the bollard

Rowena Perry as Mad Margaret with the bollard

Taking to the stage next Wednesday, the Preston landmark plays a mooring post on a sea harbour that – surprise, surprise – is knocked over by a passerby.

Director of Ruddigore, Philip Walsh, said: “It’s one of the props so we will be taking it across the border with us. It fits in really well.”

It follows the bollard’s first venture on to the stage in the March production of the comic opera at Preston Playhouse, where Blackpool-native Philip said “it got quite a few laughs with the audience”.

And bollard aside, 65-year-old Philip added: “We’re really looking forward to it now. There’s about 30 cast members and 15 helpers; everyone is fully committed to it which is fantastic.

Peter Bowden as Dick Dauntless and Amy Hardy as Rose Maybud

Peter Bowden as Dick Dauntless and Amy Hardy as Rose Maybud

“There’s not been many Lancashire societies competing in this over the years so it’s quite a credit to our team in that respect.”

The show’s final dress rehearsal took place last night, with the next time everyone getting together being the day of the show itself at Harrogate’s Royal Hall.

“At the end of the festival there will be awards given out – it would be nice to be there for that,” Philip added.

Critical acclaim

The Preston Gilbert and Sullivan Society was awarded a host of trophies at the NODA District 2 presentation evening in Blackpool in February this year.

For its 2017 production of ‘The Mikado’ they received awards for Best G&S Production, Best G&S Director, Best G&S Musical Director, Best G&S Chorus and Best G&S Leading Female Actor.

‘Ruddigore’ is the society’s 10th collaboration. Director Philip Walsh said: “The story includes and parodies melodrama.”

He added: “It’s typical Gilbert, full of topsy-turvydom and lots of lovely music by Sullivan”.