Academy of Music, Northampton
To avoid inheriting the family curse, whereby the baronet of Ruddigore has to commit a daily crime or else die an agonizing death, Sir Ruthven Murgatroyd has fled his ancestral home transferring the curse to his younger brother Despard. To conceal himself he has settled in the local fishing village of Rederring disguised as a farmer named Robin Oakapple. Here he has fallen in love with Rose Maybud but, being too shy to speak to her, he calls upon Richard Dauntless, a sailor and his foster brother, to court Rose for him. Overcome by Rose's beauty, Richard sets about capturing her for himself and nearly succeeds in doing so until Robin finally declares his love for her and wins her back. However, Richard reveals to Despard his elder brother’s subterfuge and Despard exposes Robin to the whole village as the true baronet of Ruddigore. As the rightly restored cursed baronet, Robin finds that he is very ineffectual as a bad baronet. His ancestor Sir Roderic and all the other ancestors in the family portrait gallery leave their frames to give him a taste of the torture that awaits him if he does not conform. Roderic suggests that he mend his ways by carrying off a lady from the village. Robin agrees but his valley-de-sham Adam chooses Dame Hannah as his abductee. She is furious at her treatment and threatens Robin with such violence that he has to call upon Sir Roderic for protection. Answering his call for help Sir Roderic is amazed to come face to face with his “Little Nannikins”, the girl to whom he had once been engaged. In a sudden epiphany, an idea occurs to Robin; a baronet of Ruddigore who refuses to commit the daily crime must die and, therefore, to make such a refusal is tantamount to suicide; but suicide is a crime in itself. Consequently, Sir Roderic should never have died and the curse should not have been handed on. By this logic Sir Roderic is now free to marry Dame Hannah, all of the ancestors may come back to life to marry the bridesmaids, Rose may Robin, and Richard may settle for Zorah. The crowning joy of the show is that Mad Margaret marries her beloved Despard, and all end happily.
Photos by Phillip Helzer.