The Young Victorian Theatre Company began as the Gilman Summer Theater in July 1971. That was when a modest group of Gilman School students staged a production of Gilbert & Sullivan's Iolanthe — thereby and unknowingly — introducing an acclaimed and decades-long fixture to Baltimore's arts community.
Over the next few years, the company staged a few musical theatre staples, like Kiss Me Kate and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. But they also continued performing the works of G&S, including The Gondoliers, Trial By Jury and The Mikado.
By 1978, the company was growing in size while attracting larger audiences and higher levels of talent. To lead the company into its next stage of growth, Brian S. Goodman was named General Manager. To reflect the group's growth beyond a high school theatre, one of his earliest acts was to change its name to the Young Victorian Theatre Company. The inaugural show that year was a 100th anniversary production of HMS Pinafore.
Young Vic's profile quickly ascended in the 1980s. We were invited to perform at the Pier Six Concert Pavilion in Baltimore's renowned Inner Harbor in 1983 where audiences were treated to a spirited HMS Pinafore. And we hired the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra's Edward Polochick in 1984 to be our first Musical Director and Conductor.
Then in 1989, Young Vic began a new era. After 17 years of Gilman School's generous sponsorship, we spun off to become a fully independent nonprofit organization. The company relocated to a new home in Centennial Hall at Bryn Mawr School. Here, Young Vic continued to garner widespread praise from audiences and critics alike.
During this time, Young Vic audiences saw many lesser known, but equally deserving works of Gilbert & Sullivan. While the G&S canon has its "big three" popular shows (Pinafore, Mikado and Pirates), we have always been dedicated to drawing attention to the full range of the duo's work. And audiences began to appreciate these "unknown" gems, such as Ruddigore, Yeomen of the Guard, Princess Ida and The Gondoliers.
In the late 1990s, the company looked ahead to its future and undertook a significant capital campaign for a permanent endowment at the Baltimore Community Foundation. And when we celebrated our 30th anniversary in 2000, Young Vic had a stable fiscal foundation to continue on a long-term run.
By 2006 the quality of the shows continued to improve dramatically as new technology and resources allowed us to stage professional-level theatrical productions. But our focus on attracting the best young talent continued, with many gifted vocalists and instrumentalists arriving from local institutions, such as Peabody Institute and Towson University. In addition, our cast and orchestra has included performers from across the country – and even around the globe.
In 2010, Young Vic celebrated its 40th anniversary with a return to our very first production in 1971, Iolanthe. At the end of 2012, the theatre departed Bryn Mawr and began a highly successful partnership with Roland Park Country School. So in over 40 years, the company occupied three locations all within a half-mile radius!
Today, after decades of fiscal responsibility, stable leadership and artistic excellence, Young Vic is Baltimore's longest tenured musical theatre and is well supported by the community.
And above all, the Young Victorian Theatre Company remains committed to ensuring the tradition of Gilbert & Sullivan remains popular and relevant not only to our established patrons, but also to new and diverse audiences for the future.
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The Young Victorian Theatre Company is funded by an operating grant from the Maryland State Arts Council, an agency dedicated to cultivating a vibrant cultural community where the arts thrive. Funding for the Maryland State Arts Council is also provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency, which believes that a great nation deserves great art.