Long stint: The Gillbert & Sullivan Society of Bermuda Seventy is Celebrating its 35th anniversary. Seventy seven-year-old Marjorie Stanton has been an active member for 28 of them, 24 as its president.
Long stint: The Gillbert & Sullivan Society of Bermuda Seventy is Celebrating its 35th anniversary. Seventy seven-year-old Marjorie Stanton has been an active member for 28 of them, 24 as its president.
"This is my life, it's just what I do," says Marjorie Stanton who doesn't think twice about giving her time to the theatre.

But it's the 77-year-old's tireless work that has helped The Gilbert & Sullivan Society of Bermuda ­become what it is today.

G&S is this year celebrating its 35th anniversary and ­­Mrs. Stanton has been an active member for about 28 years, 24 of those as ­president.

The theatre company started life in 1972 as The Warwick Academy Players by school music teacher Marcia Subbards. The first play they did was the Gilbert and Sullivan's, The Mikado, and renowned sculptor Desmond Fountain, who was then a Warwick Academy art teacher, created the sets and ­designed the programme.

In March of 1974 the group was renamed The Gilbert and Sullivan Society and its first production was The Pirates of ­Penzance.

To celebrate its 35th year the theatre company is putting on the family-friendly musical Oliver! at the City Hall Theatre from October 7.

Happy family

Mrs. Stanton said: "When I think about how long I've been involved, I just can't believe it, it's just gone so quickly.

"It does take a lot of time and there's no pay cheque involved, but I do it because I love it. If I didn't, I ­wouldn't do it.

"But it's not just me, there are so many volunteers at G&S, we're like one big, happy family."

G&S is a registered ­charity relying solely on the work of volunteers. There are no premises so meetings take place at Mrs. Stanton's house, as does costume measuring and making and volunteer ­parties.

Mrs. Stanton said: "My house has to be a makeshift everything. It's marvellous to think what we achieve without any premises."

Mrs. Stanton says G&S "takes up my year" as even though productions are only staged in October "you are always thinking about and planning the next show."

A modest Mrs. Stanton says she does the voluntary work "for the people and the excitement."

She said: "I really hope we bring enjoyment to Bermuda. We try to make our productions as professional as we can.

"It's not about making money, it's that good feeling to know we are pleasing a lot of people.

When asked to name her favourite production from over the years, Mrs. Stanton simply says: "They've all been fantastic and Oliver! will be as well."

But when put on the spot, she said she had loved Evita, Les Miserables, The Sound of Music, Cabaret and Chicago.

Mrs. Stanton moved to Bermuda from England in 1970 and started helping with theatre costumes when her daughter starred in a pantomime.

Then Mrs. Stanton said before she knew what was going on she was called on to be president.

She said: "The current president was stepping down and a new president was needed.

No experience

"I heard 'I think it should be Marjorie' and I remember saying 'I'm not going to be president, I know nothing about being president.'

"But that was it, I couldn't stop it, I was voted in. I had no experience and ­didn't have a clue, I just said 'what do I do now I'm president?'"

But since becoming G&S president in 1986, Mrs. Stanton wouldn't have it any other way. She admits she has '"learned everything on the job" and she certainly has no plans to hand over the reins.

Mrs. Stanton is also often the producer for many shows while continuing with presidential duties - which she calls a "double whammy."

She said: "I'm going to keep on going for as long as I can.

"I suppose someone younger will have to take over eventually, but I'm not done yet. This is my life, it's just what I do."

One thing Mrs. Stanton says she will never do is tread the boards herself - and she means no way, ­never, ever!

She said: "I won't get up on stage if you paid me $10 million. Several people have tried to get me up on stage over the years, but there's just no way.

"There's no need for anyone to try to persuade me because it won't work, I'm not doing it!"

Reynolds Keat was the first president of G&S, ­followed by Geoffrey Kitson in 1977 and John Barnett, who is still involved on the executive, took over from 1978 to 1981.

The G&S mandate is: "To bring people together who enjoy making music, to ­encourage and /or perform light operas, concerts and other musical show...for the mutual enjoyment of the membership of the ­Society."
Oliver!

n The Gilbert & Sullivan Society of Bermuda present Oliver! from Wednesday, October 7 to Saturday, October 17

- Performances at City Hall Theatre are nightly at 8pm, apart from Sunday, October 11 when there's a 3pm ­matinee

- It's the G&S Society's 35th anniversary production

- Tickets cost $55 and are now on sale

- To buy tickets go to www.premiertickets.bm or www.gands.bm