Fred Drawater as Go-To in The Mikado

Fred Drawater (1895-1927)

[Died Aug 1942]

Fred Drawater's career on the musical stage spanned over 40 years, beginning, it appears, with grand opera as a chorister in Sullivan's Ivanhoe at the Royal English Opera House in 1891, and lasting until well into the 1930s in musical comedy. He appeared in several musical comedies at Daly's Theatre, London, in 1931-32, and his last appearance on the London Stage was in La Poupee at His Majesty's in December 1935.

In between, he spent over 30 years with the D'Oyly Carte organization, most of it as a chorister and small part player, with various touring companies. His first named part was Pedrillo in Burnand & Sullivan's The Chieftain, on tour with D'Oyly Carte Opera Company "D" between February and August 1895.He almost certainly sang in the chorus for the other operas on the "D" Company tour, but his starting date is unknown. Also unknown is the date he transferred to Carte's Company "C," where his name appears next in 1899 programmes for The Yeomen of the Guard (as First Yeoman!) and The Gondoliers (as Antonio).

He remained with Company "C" through December 1902, appearing as Bill Bobstay in H.M.S. Pinafore (1900), Second Yeoman in The Yeomen of the Guard (1900, 1902), Antonio in The Gondoliers (1900-02), the Captain in The Outpost (a companion piece with music by Hamilton Clarke, 1901-02), and Go-To in The Mikado (1902).

In March 1903, Drawater was given his first opportunity at major roles, touring with the newly-formed Company "E" as Dick Deadeye in H.M.S. Pinafore, Pish-Tush in The Mikado, and Sergeant Meryll in The Yeomen of the Guard, as well as Antonio in The Gondoliers.Company "E" disbanded in December 1903.

Drawater next transferred to the D'Oyly Carte Principal Repertory Opera Company, and in July 1904 took over as Dick Deadeye, Samuel in The Pirates of Penzance, the Earl of Mountararat in Iolanthe, Florian in Princess Ida, Pish-Tush, and Sergeant Meryll following the departure of G. Villiers Arnold and Frank Wilson. He also made occasional appearances as Go-To and Antonio that year.

He kept his major roles only until January 1905, when Leicester Tunks joined the Repertory Company. After that it was Go-To, Antonio, and (beginning December 1906) Second Citizen in The Yeomen of the Guard. He played these three parts, and made occasional substitutions as The Mikado of Japan (1906-07), before transferring to the Savoy for the start of the Second London Repertory Season in April 1908.

Drawater remained at the Savoy until October 1908, appearing as Go-To and the chorus on a regular basis. He also made the occasional substitution as Dick Deadeye in October.

He returned to Carte's Repertory Company on tour in October 1908, appearing initially as the Foreman of the Jury in Trial by Jury, Go-To, Second Citizen and Antonio. He gave up Antonio in March 1909 and the Foreman at the end of the season (in June). He also occasionally filled in as Deadeye during the 1908-09 season.

Drawater remained with the Repertory Company until July 1919. His named parts over the ten years beginning July 1909 were Go-To (1909-15), Second Citizen (1909-19), Dick Deadeye (1911-15), and Antonio (1917-19).

In September 1919 he was called upon to help launch the D'Oyly Carte "New" Opera Company, playing his familiar Go-To and Antonio, as well as First Citizen in The Yeomen of the Guard when that opera was added to the tour for a few months. Drawater remained with the "New" Company until June 1927.His regular named parts with them were Go-To (1919-23, 1924-25), First Citizen (1919-23), Antonio (1919-22), Foreman (1921-24), and Second Citizen (1924-25). He also filled in on occasion at various times as Pish-Tush, Dick Deadeye, and Sergeant Meryll. For his last two seasons with the "New" Company and the D'Oyly Carte (July1925-June 1927), he was limited to chorus duty only.

In 1942 he was briefly stage door keeper at the Savoy.

Page modified June 1, 2002 © 2001-02 David Stone