New York City (September 19, 2023) – The Blue Hill Troupe, New York City’s only philanthropic musical theater group, is launching its 100th Anniversary season, with productions of Anything Goes in November 2023 and HMS Pinafore in April 2024, plus a concert series in between. Proceeds from the centennial season benefit the Young People’s Chorus of New York City (YPC).
“The Blue Hill Troupe is excited not only to celebrate our first 100 years, but also to launch our next 100, with Young People’s Chorus as our partner,” said Blue Hill Troupe President, Betsy Militello. “As we produce and perform our shows over these two seasons, we’re delighted to support a new generation’s love of music—and, even more, all of the confidence and collaborative skills that chorus work can unlock.”
The Troupe got its start in the summer of 1924, when the family and friends of Dr. and Mrs. Seth Milliken mounted a production of Gilbert & Sullivan’s HMS Pinafore at their summer home in Blue Hill, Maine, in an effort to keep their children occupied and protect them from the corrupting influences of the Roaring Twenties. The operetta was performed, appropriately, on the deck of the Millikens’ yacht (the 103-foot schooner Shawna), lit from land by automobile headlights and accompanied by music school students playing piano and violins on a nearby boat. The production was such a success that it was followed by The Mikado the following summer. The group moved its base of operations to New York City in 1926, and—with the exception of the noteworthy years of 1929, 2020, and 2021—has performed a Gilbert & Sullivan operetta every year since. The tradition of producing a Broadway-style musical in addition to Gilbert & Sullivan was adopted in 1984. All Troupe shows are professionally directed and performed with a full orchestra of professional musicians.
In 1928, the Blue Hill Troupe added a key component to its mission: donating the net proceeds from ticket and ad sales to a local charity. Since then, the Troupe has raised over $12 million (adjusted for inflation) for a wide variety of New York City charities, including Children’s Aid Society, Covenant House, Rocking the Boat, and many more.
“I am deeply honored to join hands with the Blue Hill Troupe for its remarkable 100th season,” said Francisco J. Núñez, YPC’s Founder and Artistic Director. “The organization’s generosity is a beautiful celebration of the arts that has made a profound impact on New York charities for a century and is making a profound impact on the lives of our young choristers.”
Núñez, a MacArthur Fellow and Musical America’s 2018 Educator of the Year, established the multicultural youth chorus nearly three decades ago. Internationally renowned for its superb virtuosity and brilliant showmanship, YPC recently won five gold medals—three as world champions—at the 12th World Choir Games in July. YPC serves more than 2,000 children throughout New York City in its core after-school performance program, community choruses program, and schools program, which brings YPC’s curriculum to children in 20 schools. In addition, YPC provides critical tools for each child to succeed long after they leave the program through its College Bound programming, which offers classes ranging from financial literacy to college application coaching and scholarships.
The all-volunteer Blue Hill Troupe encompasses more than 600 active and associate members, representing a broad spectrum of generations and walks of life. While there are a number of professional theater people among the ranks, most Troupers make a living in other professions. New members, who join as either Front- or Backstagers, are accepted each season and folded into the collaborative process of singing and acting, designing and building sets, creating costumes and props, wiring lighting and sound systems, editing and producing programs, hiring directors and musicians, selling tickets and ushering—in short, performing all the jobs required to produce a first-rate show.
Aside from its mainstage productions, the Blue Hill Troupe has performed concerts at major venues including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Carnegie Hall. The Troupe has twice appeared at the International Gilbert & Sullivan Festival in England, where its production of Patience took first place. In other significant accomplishments, BHT boasts over 100 “met and married” couples among its membership, as well as numerous multi-generational legacies, including a three-generation family in which all three generations are still actively performing.
In addition to its centennial production of the operetta that started it all, HMS Pinafore, April 19-27, 2024, the Troupe will present Cole Porter’s Anything Goes November 3-11, 2023, and a winter concert series. The 100th Anniversary festivities will also include a gala celebration weekend, May 17-19, 2024, gathering past and present Troupers from far and wide, and a special return engagement of HMS Pinafore in Blue Hill, Maine, August 2-3, 2024.
For more information about the Blue Hill Troupe, please visit www.bht.org, Facebook.com/BHT.org and @BlueHillTroupe.
For more information about Young People’s Chorus of New York City, please visit www.ypc.org.