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New name and direction for Ilkley theatre society

Operatic House will continue with that name

It’s been a momentous year for Ilkley Amateur Operatic Society, alongside celebrations to mark its centenary, the society has been exploring ways to move forward.

At a Gala event at Operatic House last Saturday, the President, Steph Burgess, made an announcement: “As of this evening Ilkley Amateur Operatic Society will be no more. But we are being re-born. From tonight we will be known as Ilkley Musical Theatre Society.” She continued, “I feel our change of name much more accurately reflects who we are, what we do and what we represent. It puts us in line with other local societies who have made similar changes over the last few years. There is some work to be done on rebranding. However Operatic House will continue with that name, a fitting reference to our history.”

Ilkley Amateur Operatic Society was founded in 1923, lay dormant over the war years, but re-formed in 1963 as a result of a public meeting which attracted a huge amount of local interest.

It is hoped the re-shaped society will once again attract support from the community, as exemplified by Ilkley Carnival’s generous donation to cover the cost of an extensive refurbishment of Operatic House this summer. The major aim of the society continues to be to bring the best of musical theatre to Ilkley for young people and adults alike.

With that in mind, within a couple of days of the final performance of “The Wiz” by an all-age cast in early November set building and rehearsals for the next production (6-9 March 2024) had begun. “Sunset Boulevard” encapsulates the money hungry culture of 1950’s Hollywood. It features an iconic score: With one look, The Perfect Year and As if we never said Goodbye. Movie star Norma Desmond is haunted by her memories and dreams. She yearns to return to the big screen.

Saturday‘s gala celebration and supper, arranged by Liam and Chloe Woolley, included performances by Sophia Rose, Mark Allen, Steph Burgess, Riaz Meer, Joel Ensink, Loretta Marklew and Susan Wilcock. MC was Ted Killan. Conversations were animated, underpinned with many memories of past shows.

Guests included Sally Holmes, regional representative of the National Operatic and Dramatic Association, who offered congratulations, “It is great to see Ilkley AOIS going from strength to strength. May this long continue for the next 10 years.” The society has been presented with the NODA Centenary Society Certificate.

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