Theatre and opera star, who performed on both sides of the Atlantic in venues such as the Lyric Theatre and Theatre Royal Drury Lane
Sarah Shipton made her stage debut aged 11 in Babes in the Wood in her native Birmingham and went on to a career in theatre and opera on both sides of the Atlantic.
In between extended stays in Canada, she studied at LAMDA before recrossing the Atlantic in 1958 to gain early experience in Toronto and Vancouver. She went on tour as Hermione in The Winter’s Tale and found exposure on television.
Having discovered her singing voice, she returned to the UK in 1961 to work in regional reps including Chelmsford and Northampton before a scholarship took her to the Royal College of Music opera school and a Vaughan Williams award allowed her to study opera in Italy. She spent the rest of the decade developing an operatic career in mainland Europe in the popular Italian repertoire.
Returning to the UK in 1970, she found work in plays, musicals and pantomimes, including a concert performance of Richard Nelson’s opera The Commission (Cockpit Theatre, London, 1972) and taking over from Annie Ross as Ruth in The Pirates of Penzance (Theatre Royal Drury Lane, London, 1982) and Beryl Reid as Mamita in Gigi (Lyric Theatre, London, 1985) when both were indisposed.
A prolific writer of short stories, poems and plays, in the early 1980s she formed Subtext Inc with Patti Holloway, directing and appearing in her own double bill, Pot of Basil and The Lunchroom (Café Theatre, 1983) and co-devising Mother’s Day (1986).
She was seen as Hilda in Raymond Briggs’ When the Wind Blows (Exeter Northcott Theatre, 1985), Miss Prism in Sean O’Mahony’s musical Borne in a Handbag (Key Theatre, Peterborough, 1986), Sister Margaretta in The Sound of Music (the New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich) and in Susan Priestley’s Oswald and Vivie (the Bear and Staff, London)in 1987.
More recently, she was seen in Rob Inglis’ Jellicoe the Musical (Shaw Theatre, London, 2003) and the comedy film What We Did on Our Holiday (2006).
Sarah Shipton was born Ann Livingston on October 23, 1933 and died on June 19, aged 86. She is survived by her husband David Morgan Little, a former singer with D’Oyly Carte, Sadler’s Wells and Scottish Opera.