Sam Everton – an obituary - Grosvenor Light Opera Company

Sam Everton – an obituary

GLOC regrets to announce that we were recently informed that Sam Everton, a GLOC member for over 50 years between 1950 and 2001, has died at the age of 99. The following obituary was written by Christopher Roberts, a fellow member for several of those years. Our thoughts are with his wife, Pam, at this time, and we are extremely grateful for all the considerable support they have given to GLOC over several decades.

Sam Everton as Antonio in The Gondoliers

SAM EVERTON – GLOC 1950-2001

Sam Everton, a Grosvenor member for over 50 years, died on 25th April at the age of 99.

When he arrived in England from Czechoslovakia in 1939, he had no previous experience of musical theatre or singing. Because at that time he was an artist, he was asked to design some stage sets for The Country Girl, but then he saw a production of HMS Pinafore and subsequently joined the chorus for a production of The Yeomen of the Guard. Thusstarted his lifetime’s enthusiasm for Gilbert and Sullivan.

When he saw the inaugural production of Iolanthe by the Grosvenor in 1950, he was so impressed with the high standard, that he joined up for their next production. He then appeared in every show for the next 50 years, thus becoming the longest serving member in the history of the company.

Despite having no previous musical training, he learned the chorus parts of every G and S comic opera and had the great advantage of a strong natural tenor voice and an infectious enthusiasm on stage.

In some operas he sang solo parts, notably Antonio and Francesco in The Gondoliers, Samuel (most appropriately!) in The Pirates of Penzance, and Sir Bailey Barre in Utopia Ltd. The latter opera given by GLOC in 1962 was a real rarity at that time, and this also applied to The Grand Duke in which Sam appeared in 1966. Between these two in 1964 Sam was also in the first amateur performance of Engaged (where Sullivan’s music was adapted to a play by Gilbert), presented by GLOC the year after the first professional performance.

Sam’s stage manner was of complete commitment and great enthusiasm and, of course, he had perfect recall of the text, music and production.

He also served on the committee as Publicity Officer for many years and, on the social side, he organised very enjoyable outings for the company to The Player’s Theatre at Charing Cross, which included much heckling of the chairman from Grosvenor members!

He was always welcoming to new recruits, and particularly encouraging to the young people in the company. In fact, he would dispense invaluable advice to young and old.

In 2000, he almost missed the production of Princess Ida when he required urgent cardiac surgery only a few weeks beforehand. However, that didn’t stop Sam and, amazingly, he was back at rehearsals marching up and down the stage as one of King Hildebrand’s soldiers just in time for the show.

He appeared in 63 productions altogether. His final show was The Yeomen of the Guard in 2001, in his eightieth year when, unbelievably, he reprised another solo part – the First Yeoman, this time very appropriately for his age and experience.

He met his wife, Pam, when she joined the company in the 1960s and they were married in 1972. Pam appeared in many productions herself and was a distinguished chairman of the company. Together known affectionately to us all as ‘Spam’, after they left the company they continued to support GLOC and enjoy a younger generation’s performances for a number of years.

In 2014, Sam’s great friend Terry Bygraves wrote a biography entitled Sam’s Song which covers all aspects of his incredible life. In my copy Sam has inscribed ‘With best wishes, In Friendship’s Name’, and friendship was the quality that he encouraged.

Old Grosvenor programmes used to display a crest with a quotation of five notes from The Sorcerer and the Latin inscription ‘Et Corde et Voce’ which encapsulates Sam’s contribution to The Grosvenor: ‘Et corde et voce’ – ‘With heart and with voice.’

At his funeral service on 21st May, after the Czech national anthem and music by Smetana and Elgar we heard ‘Take a Pair of Sparkling Eyes’ and what we and Sam regarded as the Grosvenor national anthem – ‘Hail Poetry’.

Chris Roberts