The Savoyaires, the Evanston-based Gilbert & Sullivan theater company, celebrated a half-century of annual productions with a gala program on May 10 at Evanston’s First Congregational Church House.
Founded in 1964, the company presented its first production, “The Gondoliers,” in 1965. The Savoyaires’ upcoming October show, “The Grand Duke,” will be the group’s 50th annual G&S production.
A highlight of the celebration was the presentation of awards to four longtime company stalwarts: Gloria Boyell, Jo Ann Minds, John Shea and Dave Stockwell. Ms. Boyell, who accompanied the entire program on piano, has served as the Savoyaires’ rehearsal pianist since 1979. Ms. Minds and Mr. Shea, who performed a scene from “The Mikado,” each played leading roles in more than 20 productions – she from 1966 to 2010 and he from 1973 to 2005. Mr. Stockwell, a cast member of the company’s 1965 “Gondoliers” and many productions thereafter, performed a lyric recitation and received the Savoyaires Half-Century Award.
The program also featured one musical number from each of the 14 Gilbert & Sullivan operettas, sung by performers from across the company’s five-decade history, including 93-year-old Eugene Propp as well as Kara Chandler, Amy Conn, David Craven, Kingsley Day, Lane Halverson, Margaret Jarvis, Kristin Lutzeier, Wendy Wells Mineau, Henry Michael Odum, Rachel Rubinstein, Noel Taylor, Jennifer Thompson and Peter Voigt.
Nearly 200 past show participants, donors and audience members attended the program and reception.