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About Us


We have been entertaining audiences for over 85 years and we are the oldest amateur theatre company in the Wolverhampton region

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About Us


We have been entertaining audiences for over 85 years and we are the oldest amateur theatre company in the Wolverhampton region

Having entertained audiences for over 85 years, we are the oldest amateur theatre company in the area.

Established in 1927, the company performed annually at The Theatre Royal in Bilston for 30 years before moving to The Grand Theatre in Wolverhampton where we have been ever since.

Affiliated to the National Operatic Dramatic Association

We are an amateur company, but strive to produce theatre of a professional standard. We aim to provide high quality final productions combined with relaxed, enjoyable and creative rehearsals. Bilston Operatic Company offers its members unprecedented opportunities to become involved in all aspects of its theatrical production, whether as performers, props and scenery builders, stage technicians and much more.

We pride ourselves on being a friendly company and welcome all new members to our ‘family’ to share our enthusiasm, join our passion and most of all to have fun. 

We are very happy to announce that we have won NODA awards for the following

Hairspray - Best Musical production in the region 2015

Little Shop of Horrors - Best Youth production in the region 2015

 

Donations to Charity

We are proud to say that profits made on our productions are used to support local charities. Over the last few years we have made donations to Compton Hospice, Midlands Air Ambulance and Promise Dreams to name but a few.

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The Committee


Our devoted commitee members include members of the cast, long standing members of the company and the new Youth Company

The Committee


Our devoted commitee members include members of the cast, long standing members of the company and the new Youth Company

President - Walter Mott
Walter was introduced to the activities of the company in 1948 by his fiancée Joan who took him to see the production of the Student Prince. He loved it so much, that the following year he became a member and performed in the company’s production of Geisha at the Theatre Royal in Bilston. Since then Walter has been a much loved and dedicated member of the company. In 1998 he was presented with a Gold Bar from NODA signifying 50 years of service and the following year he was appointed president of Bilston Operatic Company. In July 2014 Walter celebrated his 90th birthday surrounded by many of his ‘amdram’ friends.

Brenda Arnold - Chairman
Brenda was trained at the Birmingham School of Music (now the Conservatoire) as a singer and pianist. She now teaches singing and has an extensive practice including students from as far away as Birmingham, Coventry and Sutton Coldfield. Many of her past students are now on the professional stage. Brenda joined Bilston Operatic Company in 1974, performing the leading role in Belinda Fair and finally finished ‘treading the boards’ in 2008, when she played the Duchess in Me and My Girl. She has been a committee member since 1979 when she was appointed Publicity Manager. In 1999 she became Company Secretary and held this role for 9 years until 2008 when she was asked to take on the position of Chairman.

Sarah Houghton - Secretary
Sarah has been a member of the company since she was 16 years old predominantly as a stalwart member of the chorus. She has played various small principal roles over the years but her favourite was in 2014 as The Storyteller in Peter Pan..... which made her cry every night!!! She was previously a committee member between 2000-2005 but ‘retired’ as it became difficult with a young family, but she remained as an acting member of the company. Sarah has been Secretary of the company since 2012 and is fondly known by members as the ‘email queen’!!!!

Rob Morrison - Business Manager
Robin has over 30 years experience in amateur operatics on and off the stage in various parts of the country. He has enjoyed a long career as a stage manager and lighting director having started backstage with Muscom in the 1970’s. On stage he has played Jeff in Brigadoon and many other walk on roles, usually as a policeman! In collaboration with his wife Jenny, Directing 2 pantomimes was also an interesting and challenging experience. Serving as Chairman of Abergavenny MTC for 3 years was also a highlight of his operatic career.

Rob Turton - Treasurer
Rob became the company’s honorary treasurer in 2010 and leads an extremely busy life. He is currently Chairman of St Dominic’s School Brewood, The trustees of Central Learning Partnership Trust, Age UK Walsall and The Wolverhampton Methodist Church. These are just the local ones with whom he is involved.


Arthur Bate - Committee Member
Arthur joined Bilston Operatic Company in 1968 and has performed both supporting roles and as a chorus member for over 45 years, in both shows and concerts.  He also previously served on the Management Committee for 30 years and after a break rejoined as a Committee Member again this year. He is currently a member of our backstage staff.

Sue Turner - Committee Member
Sue has been a member of BOC for 49 years joining as a chorus member then onto the dance team and has been a committee member 3 times. Sue has played many leading roles over the years as well as being a dedicated chorus member. “It is a lovely hobby and I have been fortunate to have made many lifelong friends.”

Viv Brown - Committee Member
Viv joined the company in the 1970's and her first appearance was in the chorus for Fiddler on the Roof.  She found the courage to audition for a part in 1982 when she played Mabel in Pajama Game and loved it! She was a committee member for several years in the 80's and then moved away in 1984 to North Wales, but retained a close connection with the company. She came to the opening night of nearly every show until she rejoined again in 2004.Since then she has been both in the chorus and also played several character parts. Viv has thoroughly enjoyed her many years with the company and has loved all the fun of rehearsals, the smell of the greasepaint and the thrills of performance.  She has particularly treasured all the lasting friendships that are a result of her association with the company. Viv is once more a committee member and hopes to help contribute to keeping Bilston's name in the forefront of the local musical theatre scene.

 

Sam Deakin - Committee Member
Sam joined Bilston Operatic Company in May 2013 and performed in his first show with the company in the following November, where he played the role of Bert Healy in Annie. Since then Bilston Operatic Company has become a big part of Sam’s life and he enjoys every minute of it. Sam studied Music at The University of Huddersfield where he gained a CertHE in Music. Sam has become a Singing Teacher, presently teaching at Thomas Telford School and Tettenhall College. Alongside this Sam teaches singing and piano at Telford Music School and Wombourne School of Music.

Alison Inns - Committee Member
Alison became a member in 1978 after her dancing teacher thought it would be a good idea, and it was! She has performed for the company as a dancer for many years and more recently joined the ladies chorus. Having been a loyal member of the company she decided it was about time she saw how the other side worked, and has been a member of the committee for the past 2 years.  “I enjoy what I do immensely and couldn't imagine not being a member of this wonderful company hence the fact that I have never missed a show... long may it continue”

Nikki Jewell - Committee Member
Nikki first joined Bilston Operatic Company in 1973 as a dancer and performed in three productions. She left to pursue a career in show business as a professional dancer and appeared in summer seasons and pantomimes around the country and also toured Spain. She has appeared on television in program's such as "Angels", " Boon" and "Crossroads." Nikki returned to the company in 2002 for "South Pacific" and joined committee in 2008 Last year Nikki became Child Protection Officer, taking charge of the children's licensing.

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Our History


Since we were established in 1927 we have been producing quality and renowned productions for our audiences with several NODA awards along the way

Our History


Since we were established in 1927 we have been producing quality and renowned productions for our audiences with several NODA awards along the way

In February 1927 a Grand Evening Concert was given in the Town Hall Bilston by the St. Leonard's Ladies Choir, the St. Leonard's Quartet Party and the St. Leonard's Amateur Operatic Society.

This venture proved to be the forerunner of many more, and The Bilston and St. Leonard's Amateur Operatic Society was founded. In December of that year the Gilbert and Sullivan operas "Trial by Jury" and "Pirates of Penzance" were performed in the Theatre Royal, Bilston by this newly established company.

The first President of the Society was the Rev. W J Havelock Davidson, MA, who was the vicar of St. Leonard's Church. During the next six years Gilbert and Sullivan operas were performed annually at the Bilston Theatre Royal, which had a seating capacity of approximately 630.

1934 saw a new President Mr. Herbert Beach, a founder member of the Society and first Mayor of Bilston. The name of the society changed to "The Bilston Operatic and Dramatic Company".

In 1935 the second Mayor of Bilston, Alderman T. R. Wood, J.P, CC, became President. He sadly died in office in 1938, a great loss to the Company. Alderman H Beach J.P. then became President and the name of the Company was again changed to its present title, "The Bilston Operatic Company."

September 1939 brought the 'outbreak of hostilities'- we were at war with Germany and the Company's future seemed uncertain but unlike many societies, "WE NEVER CLOSED" and with the exception of the year 1941, when several charity concerts were performed in the district. Productions were regularly staged during the war years.

In 1952 the Silver Jubilee production was "Gipsy Love" and saw the presentation of 25 year Long Service awards to those Founder Members still in the Company.

The closure of the Theatre Royal in 1957 left the Company without a venue in which to perform. However we were finally offered a date at the Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton, where we performed Oklahoma in 1958. Between 1981-1983 we performed at the Wulfrun Hall for 3 years as the Grand Theatre closed its doors faced with financial difficulties. The theatre did re-open, but only after a massive renovation and restoration scheme had been completed, and in 1983 having already produced ‘Me and My Girl’ at the Wulfrun Hall we were back at The Grand, arguably one of the best-equipped theatres in the country with ‘Kiss Me Kate’. 

After a second major refurbishment in 1998, the Grand Theatre is now highly regarded and ranks amongst the "first division" of provincial theatres. In keeping with this, Bilston Operatic Company has always strived to achieve productions to the highest attainable standards, as well as bringing to their audiences fresh innovative theatre for their entertainment and enjoyment. It is a privilege for everyone involved, be it performing or back stage to work at a professional theatre. 

NODA awards

The Company have been nominated for several NODA awards over the years.