Early in 1952, the Gilbert and Sullivan Society of Houston was founded by a handful of G&S aficionados,whose "house" was an unair-conditioned gymnasium. In August of that same year, the Society presented THE GONDOLIERS as its first public offering in the Cullen Auditorium on the University of Houston campus. The cast, along with their families and friends, constructed the sets and costumes for the show.
From these modest beginnings, the Society has grown into an internationally recognized amateur G&S opera company. The Society moved from the Cullen Auditorium into Jones Hall in 1966, taking part in the opening ceremonies. A vocal performance scholarship was initiated, with a technical scholarship program added in 1982. In 1974, under the sponsorship of Gulf Oil Corporation, the Society produced PRINCESS IDA in conjunction with KLRN-TV, the Austin/San Antonio Public Broadcasting System affiliate. PRINCESS IDA earned an Emmy nomination after airing on November 15, 1975 to a nationwide audience on PBS - the largest the Society has ever enjoyed!
In 1982, after the demise of the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company, the Society secured the talents of Mr. Alistair Donkin, one of its lead performers. Mr. Donkin, an immediate hit, has spent his summers in Houston ever since, serving as both stage director and featured performer.
When the Wortham Theater Center opened in 1987, the Society again participated in the opening ceremonies and moved into the more intimate confines of the Cullen Theater. The performance schedule was expanded from three performances to six, with the Society enjoying critical acclaim and sold-out houses. In 1990, the Society was honored to entertain visiting British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, offering choral selections from various operas. The afternoon's highlight, however, was Mr. Donkin's rendition of Major-General Stanley's patter song, with lyrics re-written especially for the Prime Minister