Gilbert and Sullivan classics arrive at Grand

The National Gilbert And Sullivan Company's 'Three Little Maids' from The Mikado, including Nichola Jolley from Longridge
The National Gilbert And Sullivan Company's 'Three Little Maids' from The Mikado, including Nichola Jolley from Longridge
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A triple bill of light opera is aiming to draw in a new generation of audiences to the classic Gilbert and Sullivan repertoire.

The National Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Company comes to Blackpool for the first time from tomorrow night, showcasing three of the most enduring Savoy operas - as they are known.

Hitting the stage at the Grand Theatre will be The Gondoliers tomorrow and Wednesday, HMS Pinafore on Thursday, and The Mikado on Friday and Saturday.

Lancashire-born singer Nichola Jolley enjoys the ‘mezzo comedy roles’ of Pitti Sing in The Mikado and Hebe in HMS Pinafore, as she looks forward to some local shows.

With a background of training in both opera, at Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, and musical theatre, at the Royal Academy Of Music in London, Nichola, who grew up in Longridge and Goosnargh, found herself in the ‘classical crossover’ world, and bring drawn to G&S as it combined her two sets of skills.

“G&S is a niche,” she said. “And this company and tour is about trying to keep it alive in today’s modern theatrical world, by giving it a fresh outlook - and it has been successful do far.

“It gets a hard time sometimes, but the shows are quite sophisticated, with fun elements that you would find in modern theatre.

“There is a massive following for G&S, but it’s about expanding that, to the younger generation.”

This tour, which ends on Saturday, has been billed as the ‘most ambitious professional light opera company tour since the late 1970s’.

The National G&S Opera Company was established in 1994, as a link between the International Gilbert and Sullivan Festival, in Harrogate, and former members of the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company, but never set out tot our the country until a short pilot was done last year.

The 35-strong cast is supported by the National Festival Orchestra and the company’s resident conductor, David Steadman.

Company chairman and founder Ian Smith said: “English National Opera, Opera North and Scottish Opera all throw the occasional G&S into their repertoire.

“We do nothing but G&S and it is a tribute to the evergreen popularity of the shows, that theatres around the country see and value the prospect of a week’s visit to their theatre.

“Who would have thought 140 years ago that these operas would remain as popular around the world in 2015 as ever, and that they would continue to be translated into new languages – Japanese, Hungarian, Estonian, Yiddish and many others.”