2017 will mark the Gilbert and Sullivan Society of Winnipeg’s 27th season. The Society has now mounted 25 highly successful, professional productions plus a G and S Extravaganza concert in 2016. Cast and crew are now hard at work on the 2017 production of RUDDIGORE.
From 1991 to 2002 the productions were directed by the Society’s Artistic Director, Glen Harrison. For the 2003 production of H.M.S. Pinafore, the Society began to hire other local professional directors although Glen Harrison did return for the 2004 production of Princess Ida. Donna Fletcher directed the 2003 production of Pinafore and Mariam Bernstein directed the 2005 production of Ruddigore. From 1991 until 1998, Carlisle Wilson conducted the orchestra while the chorus masters were Peter Buchan (1991) and Helga Anderson (1992 – 2002). In 1999, Reid Harrison became the conductor, a post which he held until 2006 when he passed the baton (literally and metaphorically) to John Standing who had taken over as chorus master in 2003. Reid Harrison has directed the past eight productions and will be directing The Gondeliers in 2014. Following the 2012 production of Iolanthe, John Standing retired his baton, and the Society is pleased to welcome Michelle Mourre as musical director. Craig Sandells designed the sets for the first 12 productions and David Owen Lucas designed the 2003 production of H.M.S. Pinafore. Sheldon Johnson has designed the sets for the most recent productions. Lighting design has been created by a number of local designers: Tim Babcock, Scott Henderson, Jason Robbins and Robert Mravnik. From 1991 until his death in 1998, the Society was extremely fortunate each year to have costumes newly designed by Taras Koral and created by Harlequin Costumes. Since then Harlequin and Jan Malabar have continued to create wonderful costumes for the productions. Makeup design was created by Alice Wiebe for 23 of the Society’s productions.
In addition to the productions mounted in the spring of each year, the Society has presented concerts of Gilbert & Sullivan music as well as that of other musical theatre. The most recent of these was a collaboration with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra in October 2007. The concert took place at the Pantages Playhouse Theatre and was notable in that for the first time, the Society’s soloists were featured with the Orchestra, rather than soloists brought in from England and elsewhere. The concert was conducted by Reid Harrison. The Society’s 15th Anniversary Concert, in January 2005 (also at Pantages), featured Tracy Dahl as a guest artist in Trial by Jury, as well as a selection of songs from other Gilbert & Sullivan operettas. The Society has also presented concerts in Winnipeg and Morden, “concert brunches” in January of many years, as well as concerts with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra (with Bramwell Tovey conducting) in 1994, 1997 and 2001. The WSO concert in 1994 was released as a CD by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.