History and Timeline

Here you'll find some of the key dates in over 36 years of CTS history. 

CTS is formed by WNO and it opens in its new premises in Ellen Street.

Ian Siddall (Scenic Art Manager) working as a Scenic Artist, and Deputy Head Scenic Artist with WNO/CTS since 1978, becomes part of the CTS senior management team. Steve Rees who joined WNO in 1967 as an Apprentice Carpenter at the age of 15 joins CTS and is still here in June 2015.
Mid to Late 1980’s 
CTS build and develop their business, working initially on sets for Vancouver Opera, Royal Opera House and National Theatre. During this period they also developed working relationships with Opera North.


CTS build and paint David Hockney’s Die Frau Ohne Schatten for Royal Opera House. During this period CTS Scenic Artists gain a reputation for translating the works of artists into stage shows and over the years have worked with David Hockney, Howard Hodgkin, William Kentridge, The Wilson Twins, Sue Huntley and Donna Muir.


CTS begins their long working relationship with Glyndebourne Festival Opera starting with Peter Grimes and over the years building many shows( recently the magnificent La Finta Giardiniera by Mozart). CTS also start to build and paint for English National Opera .


Leejay Burnell joins CTS as a Workshop Carpenter/Trainee Project Co-ordinator. Leejay was appointed Workshop Manager in 2012 and is a very significant addition to the CTS senior management team. CTS build Ralph Koltai’s Madame Butterfly for Bukamura Tokyo.


Ian Siddall and Julia Skelton design Mural for the open air stage at Larmer Tree Gardens and it is painted onsite by John Rushton and Frankie Locke. In the same year Ian and Sam Holland design 3D theming and murals for Cardiff Red Dragon Centre. They are built by CTS construction and painted by John, Frankie and the rest of the team at CTS and installed at the popular venue in Cardiff Bay.


CTS build their first show for Chicago Lyric Opera.


CTS build John MacFarlane’s brilliant Design of Euryanthe for Glyndebourne. It is a massive undertaking with set and tracking cloths that move from stage right to stage left continuously throughout the performance and involves the painting of two giant 60 metre wide cloths.


CTS build Avenue Q for Cameron Mackintosh before going on to build and paint Les Mis, Oliver and other shows for Cameron Mackinsosh. CTS build revolve for Tenerife Opera.

CTS build and paint Maskarade for Bregenz Opera and Royal Opera House.

CTS work closely with Russell Becks’ Studios to build and dress the UK’s first BUN Tower for the Lord Mayors parade in London. It is a massive tower cover in polystyrene balls and has to be craned into position. CTS also build Richard Hudson’s design for Coriolanus for the Royal Shakespeare Company and a second version of the set to be performed in Washington, USA.

CTS build and paint Es Devlin’s design for ENO’s Carmen.


CTS build and paint Dr Atomic for the New York Met and ENO.


CTS paint cloths for Houston Grand Opera’s Tosca. CTS also paint massive cloths for William Kentridge’s design for The Nose Opera for The New York Met. They also make and paint Christopher Oram’s fabulous design for Billy Budd for Glyndebourne.


CTS build and paint the set for an adaptation of Gabriel Garcia’s novel Love and Other Demons for Glyndebourne Opera and Terry Gilliams’ Damnation of Faust for ENO.


CTS build the hugely successful Damnation of Faust for ENO designed by Hildegard Beckler. CTS build and paint ‘Oliver’ and receive a personal thank you from Sir Cameron Mackintosh who wrote about the St Pau’ls backcloth:  “To the brilliant crew at CTS. A magnificent achievement. Who needs Christopher Wren. Many, many thanks - Cameron Mackintosh.”


CTS built and paint Phantom of The Opera for Cameron Mackintosh Ltd. CTS build the winners Pyramid for the 2012 Olympic Closing Ceremony.


La Finta for Glyndebourne is acknowledged by many CTS staff and people in the wider industry to have been a landmark production for CTS. Girl Of The Golden West (ENO) designed by Miriam Beuthler and Mastersingers (ENO/WNO) designed by Paul Steinberg and both built by CTS are recognised in the 2015 Olivier Award given to Richard Jones (Director).

Becky Cubitt is promoted from Project Co-ordinator to Deputy General Manager of CTS and secures a wide range of new clients.


Ed Wilson joins CTS as General Manager: in the first 6 months of 2015 CTS build a number of West End headed productions; The Audience, Bend it Like Beckham, Derren Brown and The Mentalists, as well as a fantastic Peter Pan for Regents Park, and Constellations for a UK tour and subsequent run in the Trafalgar Studios.


Darren Joyce returns to CTS in the role of Head of Operations to work alongside Ed. CTS deliver an epic new production of Nutcracker to the Atlanta Ballet.


CTS deliver the stage set for Apollo – an immersive re-telling of the first landing on the moon celebrating the 50th anniversary of the event, and also create and install the set for the London franchise of Mamma Mia! – The Party. Darren Joyce became Managing Director, and Steve Rees celebrated 50 years of working for WNO and CTS.


During a difficult year for the industry, CTS management worked hard during lockdown to keep the business going and to devise new, safe ways of working. The workshops re-opened on 1 October 2020 picking up on shows which had been put on pause and delivering the set for the National Theatre’s filmed version of Romeo and Juliet. After 39 years with WNO/CTS, Ian Siddall retired from his role as Head of Scenic Art.

Rollering glued panel
the CTS team
massive metalwork
stunning backdrops


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