G&S festival at Harrogate: organiser’s lot is a happy one

A scene from the G & S Opera Company's production of HMS Pinafore at the Royal Hall in Harrogate.
A scene from the G & S Opera Company's production of HMS Pinafore at the Royal Hall in Harrogate.

By Graham Chalmers

There’s still four days to go in its first time in the Harrogate district but the date has already been set for next year’s.

Organisers of the 21st International Gilbert and Sullivan Festival have confirmed the festival will be returning to the area in 2015 from August 1 to August 25.

With more than 2,000 performers and thousands of visitors from around the globe, G&S may not have attracted the youngest demographic in its first year away from its original home in Buxton - the Daily Express even remarked upon the number of grey hairs in the audience in one otherwise favourable review.

One thing is for sure, however, organisers have been very happy with the success for what has been a staggering amount of Gilbert and Sullivan-related events in the past three weeks.

Bernard Lockett, trustee of The International Gilbert and Sullivan Festival, said: “It has been seen a fantastic festival here in Harrogate. Not all shows in the Royal Hall were completely sold out but it holds so many more people than Buxton Opera House and we were surprised and delighted by the turnouts.”

With almost 100 Fringe events complementing the official programme, it’s been one of the most ambitious line-ups ever to be staged in Harrogate.

Highlights have ranged from outdoor performances at Newby Hall, Knaresborough Castle and Fountains Abbey to 23 performances by the festival’s own professional company, the Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Company.

There’s even been a visit by the USA’s premier exponents of the work of this legendary theatrical partnership - The New York Gilbert and Sullivan Players.

The remaining events before the festival closes next Tuesday sees the Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Company bringing in the big guns - The Mikado, Pirates of Penzance, HMS Pinafore and, finally, Iolanthe.