Your browser version is outdated. We recommend that you update your browser to the latest version.

L,ike most things, Savoy had a very humble beginning, and started life as the product of the Presbyterian church choir in Surrey Hills.

That was way back in 1943, when, as the Mont Albert Choral Society, they presented THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE, under the direction of Alberta Windus, producer (now known as director), and Raymond Fehmel, as the musical director. (Mr. Fehmel, acted for many years in this capacity, and after his retirement, went on to become our first patron).

In 1944, after changing both its name and producer, PIRATES was repeated, with Geoff Doolan, and Graeme Bent jointly at the helm. Under the banner of The Youth Operatic Society, it was staged at the Moonee Ponds Town Hall. Geoff Doolan is the brother of a man who was to become the producer of Savoy: Maurice Doolan . Graeme Bent, went on to become a professional singer/actor with J.C. Williamson's Theatres, and played virtually every baritone role in the G & S repertoire. He returned again in later years to Savoy, and remained with us until his untimely demise.

Maurice took over as producer in 1947, and staged IOLANTHE, at the Hawthorn Town Hall. In 1952, and another name change to The Hawthorn Operatic Society, the company went from strength to strength, and in 1961, with yet another change of name, presented THE GONDOLIERS at the Russell Street Theatre, as the Victorian Light Opera Company.

For four years the VLOC continued at Russell Street, but in 1964 some unrest surfaced in the company. Some members wanted to do shows other than G.&.S, while others wanted to continue as they were. So a split occurred, and Savoy was formed from the members who wished to continue with Gilbert and Sullivan. The VLOC continued and moved into operetta. They eventually gave up light entertainment and concentrated on opera. They went from strength to strength, and became a famous opera company, The Victorian State Opera, one of Australia's leading opera companies, which now, sadly, has been taken over by Opera Australia.

Savoy, of course remained an amateur company, under the directorate of Maurice Doolan, George Pugh and the late Elizabeth Chappel. Together they forged the company we know today. The company performed in the Chadstone auditorium from 1966 to 1969, and moved into the new theatre at the Camberwell Civic Centre. There we remained until the end of 1992.

In 1972, George Pugh retired, and Geoff Fisher, who had joined the company as Stage Manager in 1969 ( a job he held for the next 29 years), took over as company manager, and he and Maurice ran the company together, building on their previous successes, until Maurice retired in 1980, after thirty three years as producer, and company director. He was made the Patron of the company.

Geoff continued to run the company, and Graeme Bent returned to take up the reins as producer, and remained so until his death in 1984. It was then, that Maggie Procter, who had for many years been the company's leading contralto, took over as producer. Sadly Maggie passed away in 1995, and Brian Clough took up the directorial reins with, more recently, Stee Cordelia sharing her ideas and expertise in this role.

For many years, after Raymond Fehmel's retirement, the Musical Direction was in the hands of Graham Bartle, who was with the company for many years. In 1986, Michael Loughlin stepped in to the job. He relinquished this job in 1993, but continued as conductor of the orchestra. Michael retired with our first show for 1996, with Kevin Morgan taking up the baton, followed by Greg Hannan, then Brian Clough. Our current Musical Director is David Campbell.

In 1987, the company became incorporated, with Geoff Fisher, as President and Artistic Director, Garry Coath as Vice President, Graeme Berryman as Treasurer, Anne Reaney as Secretary and Margaret Procter and Brian Clough as committee members. More recently the company successfully applied to ROCO (Register of Cultural Organisations) Dept of the Environment, Water, Heritage and The Arts, becoming a Registered Cultural Organisation. This allows any donations over $2 to the company to be fully tax deductable.

In 1993, the company took another major step, and after twenty three years at Camberwell, moved to the National Theatre, St. Kilda. At this venue, with its large, well equipped stage, the company staged many beautifully mounted productions with fine casts. Since then we have performed at Darebin Arts & Entertainment Centre (Preston) & the Alexander Theatre Monash University Clayton. In 2015 the Alex closed for refurbishment and our new home is the Phoenix Theatre in Elwood. We also perform at a variety of other venues including Hawthorn Arts Centre, Dunolly Town Hall and Bunyip Hall.

In 1998, after twenty nine years with the company, Geoff Fisher retired. This same year Garry Coath relinquished the presidency which was taken up by Brian Clough. After many years, Brian retired from the committee with Jeremy St John taking over the leadership. 2012 brought a change in leadership with Jeremy St John retiring and Jamie Moffat taking on the role of President with Stee Cordelia as Vice President. 2014 rang in another change with Jamie Moffat retiring and Stee Cordelia taking the reins.

Through out its history, a number of our performers went on to make a name for themselves. Marie Collier became a star at the Covent Garden Opera. Gregory Dempsey was a leading tenor with English opera companies, finally returning to Australia singing roles with The Australian Opera (now Opera Australia). Another young woman who went on to find acclaim was Liane Keegan. Before leaving Australia, Eileen Hannan sang the female lead in the opera that opened the Sydney Opera House and went on to sing leading roles with Welsh National Opera and throughout Europe. She has returned to Australia on several occasions to sing roles with the The Australian Opera