Walsall Gilbert and Sullivan Society is a friendly and enthusiastic amateur operatic society, specialising in the works of W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan, as well as performing works by other composers and librettists. We currently produce one main show and a number of concerts each year. Our Concerts are held at other times throughout the year at The Forest Arts Centre and other venues, which have recently included Walsall Art Gallery. We meet for rehearsals on Wednesday evenings at the Forest Arts Centre (see map), from 7:30 to 10 o’clock (including a refreshment break). Some members will follow rehearsal with a “small libation” (in the words of John D’Auban, Doyly Carte’s Choreographer in “Topsy Turvy”) in a local pub. We aim to have fun and enjoy putting on the highest quality shows, and our audiences will vouch for the fact that this fun and enjoyment shines through in the performance!
A Brief History
The society has been running for 54 years, performing at least one stage show every year since its establishment in 1963. In 2013 saw our 50th Anniversary, which was celebrated with a Gala concert and the production of “Trial by Jury” and “Pirates of Penzance”, the same shows as were presented for our very first production.
The society started life in late 1962 when an advert appeared in a local paper headed “Are you keen to sing?“. The advert was an invitation for people to attend an inaugural meeting with the purpose of forming a Gilbert and Sullivan Society in Walsall. The meeting was held at Butts School in Walsall in January 1963. There were enough people there to form a committee and the decision was made to put on “Trial by Jury” and “Pirates of Penzance” together as the first production. This first show was performed at Tyning’s Lane School in Aldridge. The following year’s show was moved to TP Riley School and stayed there for three years until problems over the use of school premises forced a move to Darlaston Town Hall in 1967. The next move was in 1984 to Shire Oak School with the intention of attracting a larger audience and in 1989, the Society moved to Brownhills Comprehensive School. In 2011 we moved to the Forest Arts Centre and we have remained there ever since.
Links to the First Show
When the Walsall Gilbert and Sullivan Society performed its first operas in 1963, Dylys Bradbury, Pamela Robinson, David and Jo Jones were in the first show and all continue to serve the society today. Jo is our Ticket Secretary, while David helps behind the scenes (their daughter, Emma, and granddaughter, Annabelle, both perform with the society).
Dylys has been in every stage show since 1963; a truly remarkable record both of loyalty and endurance. Pamela had a principal role in the first show; was producer of our shows for a number of years; before returning to direct “Trial by Jury” and “Pirates of Penzance” for our 50th Anniversary.