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Lorna Doone

Cover to DVD

Light opera in 3 acts by Les Emmons & Pat Mugridge loosely based on the novel by R.D. Blackmore

premiered at the Edinburgh Fringe


Wild and windswept Exmoor is home to the infamous outlaws, the Doones. A young girl, Lorna is kidnapped and forced to join the group. Young local farmer John Ridd has been secretly meeting Lorna Doone, an action that can only bring trouble to all concerned, as she is being forced to marry Carver, the leader of the Doone's.

The Ridd family is preparing for New Year. Uncle Ben has not arrived for the celebrations and his granddaughter Ruth is very worried. John agrees to go and look for him. Ruth is secretly in love with John and expresses her unrequited love. Cousin Tom Faggus, a highwayman, arrives with local farmers and their families for the New Year celebrations at the Ridd Farm. John returns, bringing in a very dishevelled Ben who has been waylaid by the Doones. He demands that action be taken against these bandits, but the Doones are much feared by the local people and no one is willing to do anything about them.

A few days later a stranger arrives at the Ridd farm. He is Jeremy Stickles, a messenger from The Lord Chief Justice in London. Ben has made an official complaint and John is required to go to London to testify against the Doones. John realises that if the King’s men come to Exmoor to round up the Doones his beloved Lorna will be at risk. He is desperate to see her and give her a warning, but has no chance. He longs to hold her once more in his arms.

At the start of Act Two, John arrives at court in London and finds himself among a very disreputable bunch of criminals awaiting trial. He is brought before the dreaded Judge Jeffreys who soon sees that John is just a simple honest farmer. He sends John home with a warning to keep well clear of the Doones. Back at Doone Valley, Lorna dreams of the great lover who will come to save her from her villainous family. John has sneaked into Doone Valley and warns her that the King’s men will soon be there. He tells her of his plan to snatch her away to safety, and they declare their undying love for each other.

The Doones are enjoying a feast, but their revelry is interrupted by the sound of gunfire. They grab arms and rush off to defend their valley. John appears, and unseen, carries Lorna away. Carver Doone returns to find his "queen” gone. He swears a terrible revenge on John.

Act Three opens at harvest time on Ridd Farm. Lorna is now accepted into the family and joins in the harvest celebrations. Tom has abandoned his role as a highwayman. He wants to marry Annie and settle down to an honest life. John and Lorna are happy together and, together with Tom and Annie are looking forward to marriage.

On their wedding day at Oare Parish Church, Lorna approaches the altar, but Carver appears and shoots her down and she falls, apparently dead, at John’s feet. John is shocked and distraught for a moment, but then chases off in a great rage after Carver, returning soon to say that Carver is dead. He is beside himself with joy when he learns that Lorna is not seriously hurt. He gently takes her in his arms as the choir take up the anthem.


Lorna Doone is a full length piece of musical theatre based on the famous Blackmore novel. When is was premiered at the Edinburgh Fring Festival it received high critical acclaim, and has been performed many times since by different groups and in different forms, depending on the need of the group concerned. It is designed so that it can be performed by quite a small company as several major parts do not overlap. Rather in the Gilbert & Sullivan genre, it makes a colourful and entertaining show for most amateur musical theatre companies to get their teeth into. Its title should overcome any reluctance about box office appeal.

Lorna Doone was written in 1982 for the Derby College's Music Society, a group specialising mostly in the Gilbert and Sullivan Operas. For this reason it was written for performance by a typical G&S group but designed with self-contained scenes that could be rehearsed in a college situation where not all performers could be available at the same time.While originally intended for a company of around 30 performers, this design has proved useful as it makes possible performance by a very small company with some of the performers taking more that one part. (For example, Derby Opera Workshop performed it very well with 14 performers).


Chorus of robbers, farm people and court rabble. (Some small singing and spoken parts required from chorus members).

Musical Numbers

  1. Overture - Orchestra
  2. The Ridd Farm Kitchen - Sarah, Annie & Lizzie
  3. Grumbling - Song Betty
  4. Recit / Quintet - Sarah, Annie, John, Lizzie & Betty
  5. I See Your Face - Ruth
  6. Wassail - Ridd Family & Chorus
  7. It Doesn't Do To Talk About The Doones - Chorus
  8. Ben's Song - Ben
  9. It Doesn't Do To Talk About The Doones (Reprise) - Chorus
  10. My Name Is Tom Faggus - Tom & Chorus
  11. Stickle's Song - Jeremy Stickles
  12. John's Recit & Song - John
  13. Court Of The King's Bench - Chorus (with Chorus cameos)
  14. Judge's Song - Judge Jeffreys
  15. Lorna's Song - Lorna
  16. John & Lorna's Duet - John & Lorna
  17. Drinking Song - Carver & Outlaws
  18. Attack Music Orchestra
  19. Carver's Song - Carver
  20. Together - John & Lorna
  21. Harvest Song & Dances - Chorus
  22. Tom & Annie's Duet - Tom & Annie
  23. Advice Song - Betty
  24. Ruth's Song (Reprise) - Ruth
  25. Finale - John, Sarah, Lizzie, Ruth & Chorus