October 12, 2017 @ 8:00 pm
East Chapel Hill High School Auditorium
500 Weaver Dairy Rd
Chapel Hill, NC 27514
$15 (Thurs Preview) and $25
Bruce R Conner
(984) 244-0668

World Premiere of Gilbert & Sullivan’s Lost First Operetta (October 12-15) With New Music by Alan Riley Jones

The Durham Savoyards Ltd.  are proud to announce the historic world premiere of Gilbert & Sullivan’s lost (and restored) first operetta, Thespis (or, the Gods Grown Old) — with new music and orchestration by Alan Riley Jones – along with Gilbert & Sullivan’s second work, the hilarious one-act, Trial by Jury

 See below for tickets and information.

Thespis was Gilbert & Sullivan’s first collaboration.  Most of Sullivan’s score was lost to history — but Gilbert’s libretto survived.  The Durham Savoyards’ long-time Music Director, Alan Riley Jones, has set Thespis to music once again, orchestrating and blending seamlessly with the remaining Sullivan pieces in Thespis.

An accomplished Gilbert and Sullivan historian and musicologist, Composer and Music Director Alan Riley Jones began with the Durham Savoyards as a cast member in 1984.  Serving as the Savoyards’ Music Director since 2003, he has conducted the entire canon of Gilbert and Sullivan operettas.

Regarding the restoration of Thespis, Jones says, “I found that as I read Gilbert’s lyrics, melodies seem to spring from them spontaneously. That’s the mark of a master wordsmith, and one with a keen sense of musicality. I felt fortunate indeed to be collaborating (posthumously) with a librettist of Gilbert’s caliber. I can’t claim that I’ve written what Sullivan wrote or might have written, but I have produced a score which I believe to be both tuneful and compatible with the surviving canon of Gilbert & Sullivan shows.”

Thespis takes place on Mount Olympus, where the gods of mythology have grown old and out of date.  A picnicking company of itinerant actors intrudes, and their leader, Thespis, suggests the gods travel incognito to earth. They can then decide how best to revive their past influence — while the actors take over the divinities’ identities and powers.  The results are predictably disastrous – and funny.

Sharing the evening is Gilbert & Sullivan’s second work, the one-act operetta, Trial by Jury.  This piece pokes fun at the legal system, with a suit brought by a jilted bride against a “roving” groom — and a madcap judge and jury.

An entertainment for all ages, the performances feature full costuming, sets, and orchestra.

Location:   East Chapel Hill High School Auditorium, 500 Weaver Dairy Road, Chapel Hill, NC.


  • Preview Performance: (General Admission): $15 Thurs @ 8 pm.
  • Reserved Seating Performances: $25 on Friday (8pm), Saturday (7pm) and Sunday Matinee (3pm)
  • Tickets and information available at durhamsavoyards.org.
  • For questions: call (984) 244-0668
  • For group sales: contact Cathy Lambe at culambe@aol.com or 919-383-4156