Bilston Operatic Company perform two shows per year. A summer concert held in May, followed by their main performace performed at the Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton every November. The profits from these productions are given to local worthwhile charities.

About Bilston Operatic Company

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 Quartette Party and the St. Leonard's Amateur Operatic Society. The first part consisted of musical items by the Choir and Quartette Party and the second part, the Gilbert and Sullivan opera "Trial by Jury". This venture proved to be the forerunner of many more, for during the same year The Bilston and St.Leonard's Amateur Operatic Society was formed and in December 1927 the Gilbert and Sullivan operas "Trial by Jury" and "Pirates of Penzance" were performed in the Theatre Royal, Bilston. A nett profit of 16.3s.6d. was made, 5.0.0. of which was given to charity.

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. The theatre was opened in 1902 as a variety theatre seating approximately 630, and for many years combined live shows with film shows as the cinematograph era was very prominent from 1912.

It reverted back to variety in 1936 and continued until its closure in 1957 and had been the venue for the Company's productions to that date. There were no takers for the lease, and it was eventually bought by the local authority who finally demolished it in 1961.

In 1933 Bilston was incorporated as a Municipal Borough and the Charter Mayor and first Mayor of Bilston was Mr. Herbert Beach, a founder member of the Society.

1934 saw a new President and the name of the society changed to "The Bilston Operatic and Dramatic Company". In 1935 the Edward German opera "Tom Jones" was performed, and although the term 'opera' was commonly used, the programme referred to it as 'A Comic Opera'.

On the first page of the 'Souvenir Programme', B.Billingham, the main Ford dealer on Snowhill Wolverhampton, advertised a De-Luxe Ford motor car, double entrance model [four door] at the price of 145 at works, [tax 7.10] It is assumed that this tax was extra!

1935 saw the Company completely reorganised. Alderman T. R. Wood, J.P,CC, who was the second Mayor of Bilston, and who built and owned Wood's Empire in Bilston, and other cinemas in the district, also the lease of the Theatre Royal, became President who sadly died in office in 1938. He was 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. The Company's future seemed uncertain but it was decided not to disband and "The Lilac Domino" was revived in 1940.

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. These are the silver medals on a blue ribbon from the National Operatic and Dramatic Association (N.O.D.A.) whose Patron is the Queen Mother.

Look out for them at the Amateur Shows, and you could also see this medal on a maroon ribbon with a Gold Bar, denoting 50 years service.

The closure of the theatre in 1957 left the Company without a venue for 18 months, but finally were offered a date at the Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton, with a seating capacity twice the number of theBilston Theatre. Daunting? Yes. Successful? Yes, and we have been here ever since, through the closures and refurbishment, and our Golden Jubilee celebration on Sunday 15th. May 1977 when we performed a Jubilee Evening Show at the Grand Theatre.

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 have 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.