I worked with Leo Sheffield in the years 1921/24, and for a good deal of that time I understudied his parts in the operas. He had a glorious voce, and knew how to make the most of it. Some time ago I was listening to him on a "Trial by Jury" record, and his artistry in the Judge's song was so good that I felt I could see the expression on his face. That may sound exaggerated to the reader, but it is true.
His acting was superb, never overdone. That is why I liked his Wilfred Shadbolt and Pooh-Bah so much. To play Wilfred, who is a simple, over-jealous man, is not easy. Contrast that with his Pooh-Bah, which can be easily overplayed, and you will see what I mean.
Of course he had wonderful casts to play with. There was Henry Lytton, Darrell Fancourt, Sydney Granville, Derek Oldham, Bertha Lewis, Joan Gillingham, Elsie Griffin, etc.; they all helped to keep up a wonderful standard.
I found Sheffield a kind and friendly man, always charitable in his thoughts, his speech and his actions towards others. He would always help anyone who needed it. He Knew I was trying to learn his parts, and he gave me advice whenever I asked for it. He had a sense of humour, and I think he rather enjoyed a joke against himself. He certainly liked a pint of beer and men's company. I think he was what I would call a man's man. He must have had his faults, of course, but I don't remember them and don't want to. I only know he was good to me and that the rest of the company were very fond of him.This is just a reminiscence - I am no journalist - and I have just jotted things down as they come to my mind.
G & S Recordings
|Artist Index||Main Index|