Men in tights

The Abbey Choir lets its hair down in Sherwood Forest

The Friends of Romsey Abbey Choir (FORAC) held their annual Epiphany Supper on Saturday 5 January. The event is the main fundraising event for the Choir’s visit to a cathedral each August where it sings services for a week.

The destination this year will be Southwell Minster in Nottinghamshire. The Choir last visited in 1998 and is returning at the invitation of its Provost, who will shortly retire. Quite naturally, therefore, the theme for this year’s Supper was Robin Hood.

Proceedings began with three carols as a reminder of music sung before Christmas. The audience joined in their verses of The First Nowell with gusto as the Choir, just for a change, looked on and listened. Choirmums catered admirably for some hundred guests with a hearty cottage pie followed by a choice of desserts.

The tone degenerated as usual, following a very successful raffle, when the entertainment got underway. This year’s script, set in 1194 and penned mainly by David Snell, saw a clash between one Sir Jeff, Steward of Romsey. He wished to introduce new music at the Abbey in order to please the – suspiciously masculine – Abbess, Maid Marian (Peter Brook). Against him were ranged the adherents of tradition led by Robin Hood (Michael Rowland), who still liked Plainsong.

The scene was set for a singing competition between two choirs formed for the occasion: the RICH and the POOR. The Choirmums, in the meantime, put in a bravura performance as a chorus of not-so-demure nuns. Mention must also be made of the Choirboys, who acted confidently as Heralds to introduce each scene.

Matters were resolved by the arrival of King John, played the Vicar, who had at least five minutes warning that he had been written into the show. He brandished aloft his sword and decreed that RICH and POOR should sing together at Southwell, with him and his Crusaders coming along as supporters. A couple of popular choruses rewritten for the occasion for all to sing rounded off the evening in grand style.

‘Sir Jeff’ explains his latest scheme
In the habit: Mad Marian and the Nuns
‘King John’ makes a proclamation