The Cape Town Gilbert and Sullivan Society has been presenting the operas of Gilbert and Sullivan and other musical works in and around Cape Town for the past 64 years.
Brief History of the Society by Lorna Hansen Founded in 1947 by Edie West, the Society initially produced only the Gilbert and Sullivan canon. However, since 1995 it has alternated the Gilbert and Sullivan works with some spectacular musicals, the most recent being their highly successful Annie in the Artscape Opera House in 2010. The Society's first production was in the Cape Town City Hall. They subsequently moved to the Labia Theatre, the Hofmeyr Theatre and various civic centres around greater Cape Town. In 1983, however, they were invited to bring a production to the relatively new Baxter Theatre in Rondebosch. This was a huge success. They subsequently moved to the Artscape Theatre, and in 2008 and 2010 they took the even more daring step, also highly successful, of performing at the Artscape Opera House. The moves to bigger and better theatres have been accompanied by increases in the levels of the productions, and the Society is now well-known in Cape Town for the high standard of its work. The Society has twice toured to the International Festival of Gilbert and Sullivan in Buxton, Derbyshire, England, winning international awards both times. After their most recent appearance at Buxton, in 2007, they were invited by our High Commissioner to entertain her guests at a concert in the beautiful Herbert Baker-designed auditorium at South Africa House in London. This proved to be a memorable event, which included an impromptu conga-line consisting of the singers and the audience winding their way around the entire Embassy, singing Shosholoza! "I think that one of the main reasons for the Society's success", says Kyla Thorburn, currently the Hon Vice-President of the Society, who directed its 2010 production of Annie," is that it provides all its members, whether they are directors, back-stage workers, or performers, with a wonderful opportunity to achieve high standards while also having a lot of fun". On the Society's 60th anniversary, in 2007, it was presented with a Molteno Gold Medal for its significant contribution to the arts in the Western Cape since 1947.