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History Desk

Our fifth decade of Gilbert & Sullivan
Named for London's famed Savoy Theatre, the Savoyaires were founded in 1964 by conductor Frank Miller (principal cellist of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra) and writer Lilias Circle. The group's charter was to bring the the Gilbert and Sullivan operettas to audiences on Chicago's North Shore, a mission that was pursued with intense dedication. By 1980, with a production of The Grand Duke (directed by Philip Kraus), the Savoyaires became the first U.S. company known to have produced the entire 14-operetta cycle, and Miller the first to have conducted them all. Since 1994 the Savoyaires’ productions have been presented in Evanston’s Chute Auditorium, marking a renewed dedication to bringing Gilbert & Sullivan to the community and introducing G&S to young audiences. In 2013 the company staged its 49th annual G & S production.

Join us: on stage or behind the scenes
The Savoyaires are always happy to welcome new participants on stage and off. Open auditions for the annual production are announced in local newspapers such as the Pioneer Press, in theater and music publications such as PerformInk, and on this web site. All principal roles and chorus parts are open, and new performers are always welcome. The company also welcomes new orchestral players. If you are interested in this opportunity, please call (847) 835-1024. In addition, the Savoyaires are always eager to welcome anyone who would like to participate behind the scenes, from working on publicity or costumes to helping build and paint sets. If you are interested in any of these opportunities to participate, please contact the Savoyaires via email at info@savoyaires.org.

Where professionals do community theater
Although the Savoyaires are a community theater group, the company draws its artistic staff and many of its leads from the ranks of Chicago-area theater and music professionals. Recent stage directors have included Martha Adrienne, who has directed for City Lit, Bowen Park Playhouse, and Canterbury Summer Theater; Walter Stearns, artistic director of Porchlight Music Theatre and a frequent Jeff nominee; Terry McCabe, artistic director of City Lit and a two-time Jeff winner who has directed for professional theaters throughout the Chicago area; and Katrina Brunner, a Jeff winner as choreographer for Porchlight whose credits include productions at Light Opera Works.
Performers who have played leading roles in recent Savoyaires productions have also been seen on stage at the Goodman Theatre, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Drury Lane Water Tower Place, Apple Tree Theatre, Theatre at the Center, Light Opera Works, Porchlight Music Theatre, Pegasus Players, Bailiwick Repertory Theatre, City Lit Theater, Noble Fool, Circle Theatre, Bowen Park Theatre, Candlelight Dinner Playhouse, and Drury Lane Evergreen Park as well as in a national tour of Les MisÚrables. Recent scenic, costume, and lighting designers for the Savoyaires boast professional credits with City Lit Theater, Piccolo Theatre, Apple Tree Theatre, National Pastime Theater, Briar Street Theatre, Light Opera Works, and Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire.

Need a program of light entertainment?
Do you need a fun, audience-pleasing program for your organization’s meeting, a private party, an assisted-living facility, or a public library series? For a reasonable fee, the Savoyaires present hour-long programs of Gilbert & Sullivan selections throughout the year for both public and private functions. In recent years the company has performed well-received programs for organizations and assisted-living facilities throughout the Chicago area as well as at public libraries in Evanston, Skokie, Hinsdale, Prospect Heights, and Lincolnshire. A member of the Evanston Public Library staff praised a recent Savoyaires performance there as "extremely entertaining and enjoyable" and "ranking up there with the best."

Complete Production History of the Savoyaires

2013 The Mikado
2012 Patience
2011 Eyes and No Eyes & The Zoo & Trial by Jury
2010 The Gondoliers
2009 Utopia Limited
2008 The Pirates of Penzance
2007 Princess Ida
2006 Iolanthe
2005 The Sorcerer
2004 Thespis (music by Kingsley Day)
2003 H.M.S. Pinafore
2002 The Yeomen of the Guard
2001 Ruddigore
2000 The Mikado
1999 The Pirates of Penzance
1998 Patience
1997 The Gondoliers
1996 Iolanthe
1995 The Mikado
1994 H.M.S. Pinafore
1993 The Sorcerer
1992 The Pirates of Penzance
1991 Gilbert vs. Sullivan (by Mary Spaeth)
1990 The Yeomen of the Guard
1989 The Gondoliers
1988 Iolanthe
1987 The Mikado
1986 Ruddigore
1985 H.M.S. Pinafore
1984 Patience
1983 The Yeomen of the Guard
1982 Princess Ida
1981 The Mikado
1980 The Grand Duke
1979 The Pirates of Penzance & Trial by Jury
1978 Iolanthe
1977 The Gondoliers
1976 Utopia Limited
1975 Ruddigore
1974 H.M.S. Pinafore
1973 Thespis (music by Frank Miller)
1972 The Sorcerer & Trial by Jury
1971 The Mikado
1970 The Pirates of Penzance
1969 Patience
1968 The Yeomen of the Guard
1967 Princess Ida
1966 Iolanthe
1965 The Gondoliers


The Savoyaires P.O. Box 126 Evanston, IL 60204 info@savoyaires.org Phone: (847) 563-0155

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The Savoyaires are sponsored in part by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency