Presenting beautiful productions for over 50 years
In the early 1870s, the London theatre entrepreneur Richard D’Oyly Carte introduced a lazy social climber and a failed lawyer – Arthur Sullivan and William Gilbert – to one another. The fortuitous connection of these three men has had a profound impact on Western theatre ever since.
In 1881, a decade after this first introduction, D’Oyle Carte built a magnificent theatre to house the pair’s sprightly musicals. By naming it after the nearby Savoy Hotel, he unknowingly determined the names of many amateur and professional groups that continue to devote themselves to the production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s great works, known as the Savoy Operas. Many of these groups formed in the 1960s, as copyright laws only freed the Savoy Operas from exorbitant royalties in 1961, 50 years after Gilbert’s death.
The McGill Savoy Society was founded in 1964 and has been providing the McGill campus and the greater Montreal community with quality operettas since its first production in January of 1965: the one-act Trial By Jury paired with excerpts from The Pirates of Penzance. The directors of this inaugural production, Robin Alder (the Society's founder) and Nicholas Zekulin, were members of McGill's now-defunct Martlet Choir.
Operating as a club affiliated with the SSMU (Students’ Society of McGill University), the modern-day McGill Savoy Society continues its mission as a non-profit, high-profile student theatre group, supported by a large and active patron base, the SSMU, sponsors from the Montreal community, and its audience. We are the cast, creative team, production team, stage crew, and orchestra of the year’s productions, as well as an elected executive team to provide direction and manage finances. Elections are held annually, and all positions are strictly volunteer. While the executive team consists exclusively of current McGill undergraduates, the creative team and cast are recruited from both the university and the broader Montreal community.
Pat Donnelly of the Montreal Gazette has praised the McGill Savoy Society as "a laboratory for an ongoing social experiment, a connecting point between academia and the city at large, [and] a social club with a fun-filled annual project that showcases worthy, rising talent within a beautifully restored Montreal landmark, Moyse Hall." We are a vibrant social group, and our friendships are formed through the activity of producing one or two spectacular high-profile shows per year. The main stage production is a Gilbert & Sullivan operetta, held before the winter Reading Week. The sideshow is any one of a variety of music-based shows, recitals, revues, or even concert versions of musicals.
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