Special birthday for society

Fun new show reprises songs from 85 years of G&S stage shenanigans, writes Zamandulo Malonde

Oldest ‘Broadway and Beyond’ cast member Yvonne Parker, 64, and youngest member Salomé Louw, 7, show off posters from previous PE Gilbert & Sullivan Society anniversary celebrations at the Savoy Theatre
Oldest ‘Broadway and Beyond’ cast member Yvonne Parker, 64, and youngest member Salomé Louw, 7, show off posters from previous PE Gilbert & Sullivan Society anniversary celebrations at the Savoy Theatre
Image: Eugene Coetzee

Since 1932, Port Elizabeth’s longest running drama society has been bringing some of the best and most loved community theatre offerings to Bay theatre lovers.

Now, the Port Elizabeth Gilbert & Sullivan Society coincides its 85th birthday celebration with its 150th production, Broadway & Beyond.

Society president Rose Cowpar said there was much for the public to look forward to in Broadway & Beyond, a theatrical celebration of songs from the last 85 years of the society’s productions.

She said the production, which she would direct with Angela Freer as the vocal director and choreographer Sian-Beth Hitchener, would be a merger of old and new jams.

Familiar tunes featured in the first act of the production are from previous musicals staged, including Oklahoma, Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and Cabaret, while the second act introduces the likes of Dear Evan Hansen, School of Rock, Hamilton and more.

In its 85 years of existence, the PE Gilbert & Sullivan Society has achieved its mission to promote musical theatre and bring in acclaimed talent from outside Port Elizabeth that local theatre actors could learn from.

“Originally, the goal of the society was to promote musical theatre in the arts and create different types of shows, which was not done for a very long time, but I think particularly in the last 10 years, we have certainly broadened our offering to the people,” Cowpar said.

While the society has, over the years, entertained Port Elizabethans with celebrated theatrical productions, and developed talent young and old, some of whom have now become recognised beyond just Port Elizabeth, there is still more to be achieved on the agenda.


Our biggest goal at the moment is financial stability for our theatre. We want to build it into a prestigious venue for people to do shows

Well-known South African actress Alice Krige, who went on to build a thriving international film career, was just one of a number of shining stars moulded by the Gilbert & Sullivan Society.

“Our biggest goal at the moment is financial stability for our theatre. We want to build it into a prestigious venue for people to do shows in and make it a part of a network of creative spaces in PE,” Cowpar said.

The primarily self-funded society owns the Savoy Theatre in Adcockvale.

Also on the to-do list is community outreach and education to help develop and improve not only performance, but also technical theatrical skills through workshops.

“In December last year we held our first Savoy Theatre workshops, and had more than 50 people aged 13 years and older attending.

“We plan to do that again during the July holidays and accommodate younger kids as well,” Cowpar said.

As a member of a society with a rich history in the Port Elizabeth community, Cowpar urged the public to support and stay up to date with theatre community news through The Port Elizabeth Gilbert & Sullivan Society Facebook page.

She also appealed to all theatre companies in the Bay to work together, and keep theatre alive and thriving here.

“The standard of community theatre in Port Elizabeth is incredibly high.

I’ve seen professional shows all over the world and PE holds its own among any that I have seen, so people must really support theatre.”

The upcoming production will be brought to life by a versatile cast ranging in age from seven to 65.

  • Broadway & Beyond runs from Wednesday April 25 until Saturday May 5 with evening shows nightly from Wednesday to Saturday at 7.30pm, and matinee performances at 2pm on Saturdays and Sundays.

Tickets are R100, available at Computicket, with discounts for bookings of eight people or more and R60 for the matinee performances.
For more information contact Cowpar on 072-906-1977.

Well-known South African actress Alice Krige, who went on to build a thriving international film career, was just one of a number of shining stars moulded by the Gilbert & Sullivan Society.

“Our biggest goal at the moment is financial stability for our theatre. We want to build it into a prestigious venue for people to do shows in and make it a part of a network of creative spaces in PE,” Cowpar said.

The primarily self-funded society owns the Savoy Theatre in Adcockvale.

Also on the to-do list is community outreach and education to help develop and improve not only performance, but also technical theatrical skills through workshops.

“In December last year we held our first Savoy Theatre workshops, and had more than 50 people aged 13 years and older attending.

“We plan to do that again during the July holidays and accommodate younger kids as well,” Cowpar said.

As a member of a society with a rich history in the Port Elizabeth community, Cowpar urged the public to support and stay up to date with theatre community news through The Port Elizabeth Gilbert & Sullivan Society Facebook page.

She also appealed to all theatre companies in the Bay to work together, and keep theatre alive and thriving here.

“The standard of community theatre in Port Elizabeth is incredibly high.

I’ve seen professional shows all over the world and PE holds its own among any that I have seen, so people must really support theatre.”

The upcoming production will be brought to life by a versatile cast ranging in age from seven to 65.

  • Broadway & Beyond runs from Wednesday April 25 until Saturday May 5 with evening shows nightly from Wednesday to Saturday at 7.30pm, and matinee performances at 2pm on Saturdays and Sundays.

Tickets are R100, available at Computicket, with discounts for bookings of eight people or more and R60 for the matinee performances.
For more information contact Cowpar on 072-906-1977.

  • Readers of the Weekend Post can win four sets of double tickets to Broadway and Beyond at the Savoy Theatre on Thursday April 26. To stand a chance to win one of the four sets of two tickets, send the word BROADWAY and your name to the number: 41893.
    SMSes cost R1.50 per 160 characters. Free minutes do not apply and errors are billed. The cut-off for entries is noon on Monday April 16 and the winners will be notified shortly thereafter. Tickets are on sale at Computicket with prices starting at R60.
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