The University of York Gilbert and Sullivan Society has been around since 1972. We put on an annual G&S show in Central Hall at the University, usually in February. We also put on a non-G&S show in the summer, perform various concerts throughout Yorkshire, and go carol singing at Christmas. For further details on old shows and reminiscences on times past, see our shows page.
Despite the weight of over thirty-five years of history on our collective shoulders, we are a very active society. Never a week of term goes by when we don’t have a meeting, rehearsal or social. The sparkling highlight of the society’s year is of course our main show. Year after year we put on high quality productions. And we do it all ourselves: singing, dancing, acting, making costumes, doing hair and make-up, choreography, lighting, sound, set-building, making props and stage management. Comedy, tragedy, fun chorus numbers, operatic solos: if you’re interested in being on (or behind) the musical stage, the Gilbert and Sullivan Society is a perfect place to start. We are a society than runs on enthusiasm. We have a dedicated and inevitably eccentric committee who (among many other things) act as production managers, ensuring the show will be a success. In fact, enthusiasm can often be more important than ability. We are the only musical society on campus that doesn’t audition for its chorus – everyone is welcome to join.
The chorus rehearse on Thursday evenings in the 1st term, and also on Sunday afternoons in term 2. There are usually a few more girls than boys, so lads; it’s a good place to pull. We do audition for our principal parts, ensuring that the lead roles are of a high standard. Principals have a more demanding schedule than the chorus, with up to 3 rehearsals a week in term 1, and 4 in term 2. And as for show week, well, their lives are in the hands of the directors. Show week: begins on the Sunday before the show, when set, sopranos and scenery are herded into Central Hall. Central Hall becomes the society’s home for the week: you’ll eat lots of junk food there, and drink more cups of tea than is healthy. Everyone helps put the scenery up and decorate the foyer (in between lectures). Then there’s a practice run on Monday night, technical rehearsal on Tuesday night, dress rehearsal on Wednesday night and first night on Thursday!
Set building usually takes place on Saturdays. We encourage everyone to come along and lend a hand, whether in painting the set, building scenery or making costumes. This is a lot of fun, but there is also the incentive of chocolate biscuits, if the satisfaction of seeing your hard work up on the stage isn’t enough.
The G&S social is a thing of local legend. We try to party as much as possible during the course of a show, and tend to have, on top of the legendary crash, at least two other socials in a term. They often involve large amounts of nice food and drink, and bad music and dancing. They aren’t compulsory, but come with a warm and sweaty recommendation. With socials and rehearsals, you start to get to know the people in the society pretty well during a show, which of course is a good thing. Usually.
So far this academic year, we’ve had many fabulous social events. Our reunion social in Autumn Week 1 was a great opportunity for everyone to catch up after the long summer break. In Week 3, our piratically-themed treasure hunt, organised by Leah and Frankie, was a great success. Several socials have taken place at the legendary Willow. Perhaps the most impressive social event this year was the 35th Anniversary dinner and ceilidh at the end of the Spring term.
First night is traditionally celebrated after the show by a night out at the Willow, the slightly odd Chinese Restaurant on Coney Street, with a fabulously cheesy disco.
Saturday consists of the matinee and evening show. Between the shows, we order pizza in, try not to drip grease down our costumes, and try not to smudge our eye makeup. We all lounge around in the green room and vote for the society awards: for the best dressed, most stressed, worst drunk, prettiest lass, nicest arse, worst dancer etc. Then comes the last night, which inevitably goes with a swing. And after that, the Crash! This is our legendary after-show party, at an undisclosed location, where the society awards are handed out, and people let their hair down. Quite a few society couples get together at the Crash!
And after your hangover has subsided the next day, I can promise you you’ll be hooked. You’ll have made some fantastic friends, you’ll have had a right laugh the whole time, and you’ll have performed in a fantastic show! If this sounds like something you’d like to get involved with, please just email us.