Blackburn Gilbert and Sullivan Society 50th anniversary

The cast for Blackburn Gilbert & Sullivan Society's 'Mikado ' at Thwaites Empire Theatre

The cast for Blackburn Gilbert & Sullivan Society's 'Mikado ' at Thwaites Empire Theatre - Credit: Archant

Few actors can enjoy such a long career as Sandra Chadwick who has recently marked her 50 year on the stage. Sandra was a founder member of the Blackburn Gilbert and Sullivan Society which was formed in 1964 and celebrated its half century with a performance of the Mikado.

Michael Berry, himself a member of the group for 30 years and chairman for the past 23, said: ‘It has been a remarkable achievement to reach this landmark because many towns have lost their Gilbert and Sullivan Societies. For us still to be around is great, although it is getting harder each year to attract the audiences and to find younger performers.’

The group, which after a nomadic period, is now based at the Thwaites Empire Theatre, where Michael is also chairman, was determined to mark their anniversary with bang. ‘We made a special effort this year,’ Michael said. ‘The Mikado is always good box office and we had the best audience weve had in recent years.’

Members will meet this month for the groups AGM at which the decision will be made about which show they will put on next year. Michael no longer treads the boards with the G&S society but does sing in other shows around Blackburn and he added: ‘About 95 per cent of the shows we have done since the group was formed have been Gilbert and Sullivan operettas but we do occasionally throw something different in. Rehearsals begin in August for the show at the end of February, so theres a lot of hard work goes in to putting the shows on.’

For more information about the group, go to