Founder Peter Jenkyns during 1983 Ruddigore rehearsals

Putteridge Bury Gilbert & Sullivan Society, or PBGS for short, was founded in 1971 by Peter Jenkyns, lecturer at what was then the Putteridge Bury Teacher Training College in Luton, Bedfordshire, and June Pickard who was studying to become a teacher there. Peter was an accomplished singer, composer of children's vocal music and MD - even sought after by the D'Oyly Carte as a patter baritone - and June was an experienced performer and producer who had trained at the Royal College of Music. The first members were students who were part of the Department known as 'Music Main' and their very first production was that perennial favourite, The Pirates of Penzance. Early productions took place in the College Refectory during the October half-term holiday but very soon the Society's growing reputation for high musical standards and witty productions meant it expanded beyond a College Society, drawing its membership from across three counties.

In 1979 the expanding Society moved to Luton Library Theatre with a production of The Mikado, although rehearsals continued at Putteridge Bury until it became part of the University of Luton (now the University of Bedfordshire) in 1992. After Peter Jenkyn's retirement, Margaret Patterson became MD and then Chairman. Under her leadership the Society's horizons expanded further and PBGS diversified to perform non G&S shows such as Brigadoon, Die Fledermaus and Orpheus in the Underworld, always playing to the Society's strengths of strong operatic soloists and wonderful chorus sound. In 1996 PBGS moved its bigger spring shows to the larger venue of the Campus West Theatre, Welwyn Garden City, with a large scale production of Yeomen of the Guard. The larger stage and better facilities offered scope for ambitious productions such as Carmen (1997) and The Merry Widow (1999). However Gilbert and Sullivan remained, and still remains, the Society's bedrock.

The Yeomen of the Guard, our first Campus West production, 1996

In 2000 and 2004 PBGS extended its horizons further, appearing in competition at the International Gilbert and Sullivan Festival in Buxton with productions of The Gondoliers and Princess Ida. In 2011 we took our Gilbert and Sullivan Sketch Show, written by member Paula Fraser, to the Buxton Festival Fringe. And in 2015, in a unique collaboration, we performed our acclaimed Fairyland production of Trial by Jury at the Festival Fringe in its new venue at Harrogate, alongside fellow Society Wolverton G&S's The Zoo. In 2018 we returned again to the Harrogate Festival Fringe with our all singing, all dancing Gondoliers. We have also been invited to perform at the Henley Rowing Club and at the Kenton Theatre, Henley on Thames. We've even tripped hither and thither as fairies for a BBC The One Show feature!

Our Gondoliers at the 2018 Harrogate International G&S Festival Fringe

 Since 2009 PBGS has had a home at the Queen Mother Theatre, Hitchin, with a rehearsal base at Streatley Village Hall, near Luton. We still perform a mix of musicals and operetta as well as our staple Gilbert and Sullivan repertoire, and have expanded our horizons to tackle the musical challenges of Stephen Sondheim with Into the Woods (2014), A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (2017) and A Little Night Music (2018). We also give concerts both to raise much needed Society funds and for charity. All in all, a fitting legacy to our founder Peter Jenkyns, whose high musical standards are still paramount in everything the Society does.

If you would like to join us in our many shows, concerts and lively social life, or want to sponsor the Society or hire us for a concert, please click on our Contact Us Tab for details or email us at info@pbgs.org.

 PBGS rehearsing Pirates of Penzance at Streatley Village Hall

PBGS Shows since 1971:

1971 The Pirates of Penzance
1972 The Mikado
1973 The Gondoliers
1974 Iolanthe
1975 Patience
1976 Yeomen of the Guard
1977 Concert
1978 Trial by Jury & HMS Pinafore
1979 The Mikado
1980 The Pirates of Penzance
1981 The Yeomen of the Guard
1982 The Gondoliers
1983 Ruddigore
1984 Princess Ida
1985 Patience
1986 The Mikado
1987 The Pirates of Penzance
1988 Iolanthe
1989 The Yeomen of the Guard
1989 HMS Pinafore
1990 The Gondoliers
1991 Ruddigore
1991 Patience
1992 The Mikado
1993 The Pirates of Penzance
1993 Brigadoon
1994 Iolanthe
1994 Die Fledermaus
1995 Princess Ida
1995 Orpheus in the Underworld
1996 The Yeomen Of The Guard
1997 Carmen
1997 HMS Pinafore
1998 The Mikado
1998 The Sorcerer
1999 Merry Widow
1999 Ruddigore
2000 The Gondoliers
2000 The Gondoliers, Buxton International G&S Festival
2000 Night at the Music Hall
2001 Orpheus In the Underworld
2001 The Grand Duke
2002 Iolanthe
2002 Music Hall and Trial by Jury
2003 The Pirates of Penzance
2003 Patience
2004 Princess Ida
2004 Princess Ida, Buxton International G&S Festival
2004 Best of Gilbert & Sullivan
2005 The Yeomen Of The Guard
2005 Oklahoma
2006 HMS Pinafore & The Zoo
2006 Utopia LTD
2007 The Mikado
2007 Kiss Me Kate
2008 The Sorcerer & Trial by Jury
2008 The Pirates of Penzance
2009 Iolanthe
2010 The Gondoliers
2010 The Yeomen Of The Guard
2011 Ruddigore
2011 The G&S Sketch Show, Buxton International G&S Festival Fringe
2011 The G&S Sketch Show, Queen Mother, Hitchin
2012 Patience
2012 Jack the Ripper
2013 Trial By Jury, Cox & Box, The Zoo
2013 Salad Days
2014 The Mikado
2014 Into the Woods
2015 HMS Pinafore
2015 Trial by Jury, Harrogate International G&S Festival Fringe
2015 Concert - Best of all Musical Worlds
2016 Princess Ida
2016 The Merry Widow
2017 The Pirates of Penzance
2017 A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum
2018 The Gondoliers
2018 The Gondoliers, Harrogate International G&S Festival Fringe
2018 A Little Night Music
2019 The Grand Duke
2019 Iolanthe
2021 Trial by Jury & The Sorceror - Recordings
2022 Gala Showcase
2022 The Yeomen of the Guard
2023 HMS Pinafore
2023 The Sorcerer
2024 Me and My Girl

Images © Luton News (top). Rehearsal photo © Stephen Hoath (bottom)