Blackburn Gilbert & Sullivan Society

Active status: 
Producing opera
About Us: 

We are just about to launch into our 51st production, "The Sorcerer", and rehearsals will commence in September 2014 in the Performing Arts Centre at the Thwaites Empire Theatre. The show itself will take place at the Thwaites Empire Theatre in February 2015.

Anyone interested in a role in our next production, whether it be as part of the chorus, or playing a principal part, or helping backstage, or assisting in the designing and building of the set, or to make the tea at rehearsals, or anything at all, if you'd like to take part, then please get in touch with us via the Contact Page. We are always delighted to welcome new members of any age. New members are the life-blood of amateur societies. So get in touch! We are well known as a friendly, welcoming society.

Blackburn Gilbert & Sullivan Society are a performing society. It states in the original Rules of the Society that 
"The Objects of the branch shall be.... 
to stage and perform the works of Gilbert & Sullivan..." 

We strive to bring the delightful works of William Schwenck Gilbert and Arthur Seymour Sullivan to as wide an audience as we can, by performing an opera every year, and by having a Concert Series in the spring/early summer every year. 

We meet to rehearse twice a week, currently at the Performing Arts Centre, behind the Thwaites Empire Theatre, at Ewood in Blackburn; although in the run-up to a show, it can be more often, and in the concert run-up it may only be once a week. 

Since 1993, we have done a non Gilbert & Sullivan opera every third year or so, due in part to the fact that audiences were decreasing. So in 1993, it was Strauss...The Gipsy Baron, in 1996, Strauss again...Pink Champagne, and in 1999, Carmen (the Musical) by Bizet. This was our greatest success of recent years, with a capacity house every night of the run, in 2002, The Merry Widow, by Lehar, and then The Gipsy Baron again in 2007.

In 2004, back home in Blackburn after a quarter of a century, we gave The Sorcerer, the first full length operetta written by Gilbert & Sullivan, "brokered" by the single-minded and determined Richard D'Oyly Carte.



In 1963, Bert Hyde, a well known local amateur of the stage, contacted the local evening paper, the Northern Daily Telegraph, inviting any Gilbert & Sullivan enthusiasts to join him at the YMCA on Limbrick, Blackburn (now the Sir Charles Napier pub) for a sing-along, (and please bring any scores you may have). 
About 15 persons turned up to that first meeting, and after a few weeks of impromptu singing, they decided to put on a show! 
A committee was formed, the show chosen was The Gondoliers. Ruth Prest was asked to produce, and Mr Andrews, well known in the musical world, and incidentally blind, became the first Musical Director.
The society had literally nothing, so fund raising was a major priority. One of the methods chosen, selling football tickets, resulted in a contact with Connie Kay, and she became the first secretary, and indeed was the secretary for many years. 

Our first show, The Gondoliers, was given in February 1964 at the Community Theatre, Troy Street, Blackburn to great acclaim.

Leigh Brown Telephone: 01254 601326 Publicity
Chairman Michael Berry Telephone: 01254 57663
Martin Hankinson Mobile: 07463127627 Publicity
Society Co-ordinator Margaret Greenhalgh Telephone: 01254 675590
Treasurer Pat Webster Telephone: 01254 701490
Blackburn Gilbert & Sullivan Society
United Kingdom