Jon Ellison as Tarara in Utopia Limited

Jon Ellison (1953-56, 1958-66, 1968-79)

[Born Whitchurch, Shropshire 15 Oct 1930]

Jon Ellison began his musical career at age nine as a boy soprano in the Parish Church choir in his native Whitchurch in Shropshire. As a baritone soloist he later won a prize at the Llangollen International Eisteddfod, but then took a detour into Technical College (where he studied building construction) and then into the Army.

In the summer of 1953 he auditioned for the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company in Birmingham, and was promptly accepted into the chorus, beginning his D'Oyly Carte career on September 1, 1953.Ellison took his first small named part as First Citizen in The Yeomen of the Guard from May to September 1956.He remained in the Carte chorus until December 1956, when he and his wife of one year, Joy Mornay, left the Company to work in Glasgow pantomime.They subsequently worked in television, eventually returning to London where he appeared in the Howard and Wyndham pantomimes at the London Palladium.

In April 1958, Jon Ellison rejoined the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company chorus, and in the 1958-59 season took the small silent part of Mr. Bunthorne's Solicitor in Patience. He reclaimed First Citizen in Yeomen the following year, and added Mr. Cox in Cox and Box when that opera was briefly revived in April 1963.In September 1963, he took over as Antonio in The Gondoliers, but yielded Cox to Alan Styler in November. During the 1963-64 season he also filled in for the first time as Old Adam in Ruddigore, a role he would later make his own.

In the 1965-66 season Ellison continued to appear as Bunthorne's Solicitor, First Citizen, and Antonio, eventually taking over Bob Beckett in H.M.S. Pinafore and Samuel in The Pirates of Penzance from Anthony Raffell, who left the Company in May 1966.During this season Ellison also filled in on occasion for Styler as Mr. Cox, for Raffell as Samuel and as the Foreman of the Jury in Trial by Jury, and for Alfred Oldridge as Annibale in The Gondoliers.

Ellison left the Company for the second time in July 1966, but returned again in April 1968, appearing in the chorus and as Bunthorne's Solicitor for the remainder of the season. For the 1968-69 season he remained in the chorus for most operas, though he was regularly listed as First Citizen or Second Citizen in Yeomen, and made occasional appearances as the Learned Judge in Trial by Jury, Bunthorne's Solicitor in Patience, and Antonio and Annibale in The Gondoliers.

In September 1969, following George Cook's departure, Ellison moved up to several larger roles. His repertoire for the 1969-70, 1970-71, and 1971-72 seasons consisted of the Usher in Trial by Jury, Bill Bobstay in H.M.S. Pinafore, Bunthorne's Solicitor in Patience, Scynthius in Princess Ida, Old Adam in Ruddigore, and Second Citizen in The Yeomen of the Guard.He also appeared on occasion those years as Cox in Cox and Box, the Judge in Trial, the Notary in The Sorcerer, Samuel in The Pirates of Penzance, Major Murgatroyd in Patience, and Go-To in The Mikado.

In September 1972 Ellison once more added Samuel to his regular duties (Michael Raynor having moved up to Sergeant of Police), and in January 1973 he swapped the Usher for the Judge in Trial upon Howard Williamson's departure.He continued to appear regularly as the Judge, Bobstay, Samuel, Bunthorne's Solicitor, Scynthius, Old Adam, and Second Citizen until he left the Company for good in April 1979.In the meantime, he appeared as Tarara and Ben Hashbaz in the 1975 Centenary revivals of Utopia Limited and The Grand Duke respectively, and added the role of Go-To in The Mikado in 1976.He also filled in on occasion as the Notary (1972-74), Mr. Cox (1973-74), Major Murgatroyd (1972-78), Go-To (1973-74), First Citizen (1974-75), and Antonio/Annibale (1972-79).

Jon Ellison appeared as the Solicitor in Patience in the first BBC television showing of a D'Oyly Carte production on December 27, 1965.He may be heard on the D'Oyly Carte's 1971 "Phase 4" recording of H.M.S. Pinafore as Bill Bobstay, and seen in the same role in the 1973 film version of Pinafore.He may also be heard on the D'Oyly Carte 1976 Utopia Limited (as Tarara), 1976 Grand Duke (as Ben Hashbaz), and 1979 Yeomen of the Guard (as Second Citizen).

His subsequent appearances with "Gilbert & Sullivan a la Carte" included Wilfred Shadbolt in The Yeomen of the Guard at the Barbican.Other credits include The Best of Broadway at the Ludlow Festival, Evita in Manchester and on tour, Hello Dolly with Dora Bryan, Bernadette at the Dominion Theatre (London), and H.M.S. Pinafore (Bill Bobstay, 1992) and Ruddigore (Old Adam, 1995) at Gawsworth Hall.

Page modified April 6, 2003 © 2001-03 David Stone