In 2011 Illyria raised the bar for the major UK open-air touring theatre companies by becoming the first and only one to add Opera to its regular season. The ticket sales, acclaim and feedback from last season's "The Pirates of Penzance" all vouch for its enormous success.
The subject matter of Gilbert and Sullivan's original works is often romantic and frivolous, the music jolly, and the approach iconoclastic, satirical and extremely tongue-in-cheek. In other words, the perfect material for Illyria!
Although Gilbert and Sullivan wrote the Savoy Operas with 7 or 8 principals, a large chorus and a moderate orchestra in mind, for the sake of affordability Illyria tours with a cast of 7 actor-singers and one Musical Director on piano. Despite the reduction in scale not a single word from WS Gilbert's libretto is cut, nor a single note or harmony from Sir Arthur Sullivan's score unsung. The works are performed faithfully, in their entirety - and given the full Illyria treatment!
These shows boast a creative pedigree unmatched by any other major UK open-air touring theatre company, featuring:
- The hottest new talent from the top Musical Theatre courses in London's drama schools.
- Musical arrangement by Jane Marlow, singing teacher at LAMDA and formerly MD at Salisbury Playhouse, Belgrade Theatre Coventry, Harrogate Theatre and New Wolsey Theatre Ipswich.
- Musical direction by Ben Wiles (MD on "Bat Boy", "Cinderella" and "Heaven Sent" at Hitchin, Broxbourne Civic Theatre and New Wimbledon Theatre, and writer/composer of "Amsterdam" and "Revenge of the Scissorman").
- Choreography by Grant Murphy (assistant director to Whoopi Goldberg for the New York and London productions of "Sister Act"; currently dance captain in the West End production of "Shrek")
- Direction by Oliver Gray (Artistic director/Founder of Illyria and director of 2 Best of Fringe award-winning shows in Vancouver and Orlando Fringe festivals)