In the late 1950s a Manchester schoolboy got the job of boy super to play Ko-Ko's assistant in the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company's performance of "The Mikado" at the Opera House, Manchester. He had the stage in his blood, as his grandfather had been a music hall comedian, and he already knew something of Gilbert and Sullivan, as he had played Mad Margaret in his school's production of "Ruddigore".

Some years later, with Altrincham Grammar School's Drama Prize, the Imperial League of Opera Prize from the Royal Manchester College of Music, experience at York Repertory, London Opera Centre, and Covent Garden behind him, James Ward applied to D'Oyly Carte for an audition. He was given a contract to sing as a chorister and to understudy the comedy roles, for it was evident at his audition that here was the right man for the job. Very soon he had already deputised for John Reed in most of the Operas and in his own right made a great success of the important roles of the Major-General in "The Pirates of Penzance" and Major Murgatroyd in "Patience".

James is rather proud of the fact that he and his wife (a domestic science teacher) were married, and later had their son christened, at St. Paul's, Covent Garden, where Gilbert was christened and where the Company's Centenary Service was held in March 1975.

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