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History and Timeline

History and Timeline

Here you’ll find some of the key dates in our 40 years of CTS history.


In 1984 CTS is formed by WNO and opens its new premises on Ellen Street in Cardiff’s bustling city centre.

Ian Siddall who joined the WNO workshops in 1978 becomes part of the CTS Senior Management Team.

During this time CTS build and develop their business working on sets for Vancouver Opera, Royal Opera House and the National Theatre.



In the early 1990s the CTS Scenic Artists gain a reputation for translating the works of artists into stage shows. Over the years they have worked with David Hockney, Howard Hodgkin, William Kentridge, the Wilson Twins, Sue Huntley and Donna Muir.

In 1995 Leejay Burnell joins CTS as a Junior Draughtsperson/Trainer Project co-ordinator. In 2012 Leejay is appointed Workshop Manager and joins the Senior Management Team. John Rushton joins as a casual Scenic Artist in 1997 becoming Scenic Art Supervisor in 2007 and later on promoted to the Senior Management Team.

Significant projects in the 1990s include Peter Grimes for Glyndebourne Festival Opera, Ralph Koltai’s Madame Butterfly for Bukamura Tokyo and the 3D theming and murals for the Red Dragon Centre in Cardiff Bay.



CTS continues to grow and build on its client base, including international companies such as Houston Grand Opera, The New York Met and Chicago Lyric Opera.

In 2006 CTS work closely with Russell Beck 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 must be craned into position.

The Scenic Artists paint massive cloths for William Kentridge’s design for The Nose Opera for the New York Met. CTS also build and paint Christopher Oram’s fabulous design for Billy Budd for Glyndebourne.



In 2011 CTS build and paint Oliver and receive a personal thank you from Sir Cameron Mackintosh who wrote about the St Pauls Cathedral backcloth, ‘To the brilliant crew at CTS. A magnificent achievement. Who needs Christopher Wren. Many, many thanks’

CTS joins the rest of the country in celebrating the London 2012 Olympics. CTS builds the Winners’ Pyramid for the Closing Ceremony watched by 26.3 million people around the world.

Abi Emmett joins CTS as Workshop Supervisor in 2014. She is promoted to Project Co-ordinator and again to Project Manager (Deputy Workshop Manager) in 2017. Olly Shapley joins as Head of Drawing Office in 2015.

In 2015 Ed Wilson joins CTS as General Manager from ENO where he had been working as a Production Manager.

In 2018 Darren Joyce returned to CTS as Head of Operations before being made Managing Director in 2019.

Also in 2019 Scenic Carpenter Steve Rees celebrates 50 years of working for WNO & CTS having joined WNO as an Apprentice Carpenter in 1969 at age 15.

During the 2010s CTS deliver an epic new production of Nutcracker(2018) to the Atlanta Ballet as well as the stage set for Apollo, an immersive re-telling of the first moon-landing, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the event. La Finta for Glyndebourne, built in 2014, is acknowledged by many to be a landmark production for CTS.



2020 was a difficult year for the industry and during the nationwide lockdown the CTS management team worked hard to keep the business going and to devise new, COVID-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, he is succeeded by John Rushton.

2021 continues to bring us fresh challenges and exciting projects. In early 2021 CTS deliver a new production of Ivan for Grange Park Opera and a new five-star production of Il Turco for Glyndebourne. CTS also work on the West End revival of Constellations and the UK Tours of Grease and Chicago.  The workshops continue to be busy with projects for clients such as Opera North, Cameron Mackintosh Ltd and Royal Opera House.

2022 Abi Emmett becomes Head of Construction and Leejay Burnell Head of Project Management.

2022-24 sees CTS (post pandemic) going from strength to strength with highly acclaimed productions for our parent company WNO (Blaze of Glory 2023) alongside consecutive productions for Glyndebourne  La Boheme (2022) Don Giovanni (2023) and Carmen (2024)and productions such as Macbeth (2023), Guys and Dolls all receiving 4 or 5* reviews. Also popular shows like Back Stairs Billy starring Wales’ own Luke Evans ran until early 2024.

In 2023 Ed Wilson returns to CTS as Managing Director replacing his good friend Darren Joyce who left to run a charity.

2024 has already seen a series of shows all built by CTS running on Shaftesbury Avenue in the West End, Opening Night, Hadestown and Time Travellers Wife and we have photographic evidence of this in a photo taken by Olly Shapley which is in our NEWS section.

In mid-2024 Kiss Me Kate for Trafalgar Entertainment (at The Barbican) is being finished in the workshop (May) and we then go onto building a new Rigoletto for WNO and Les Misérables for the 2024 Concert Tour for Cameron Mackintosh.

Leejay Burnell and Ed Wilson were delighted to be invited to the Dress Rehearsal of Carmen to see the set we built for Riccardo Hernadez and Production Manager Andrew Jamieson and we look forward to being able to post some of the production photos of this epic new production!

2023/24 has been a very successful period  for CTS with record turn over and a series of returning designers and Production Managers choosing CTS to realise their scenic vision! Long may it continue…

See Our Impressive List of Clients
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Apollo Project (2019) for a USA Tour for Production Manager Stuart Tucker – Designed by Leslie Travers 

Client testimonials


This was such a great collaboration from start to finish. The development, construction, painting, and build was hugely successful and a credit to all at CTS. The set went together exactly as planned during our fit-up and the feedback from all concerned was universally positive. On the first day of rehearsals the designer and director were so thrilled that they lead a round of applause in appreciation of the fantastic set. Thank you to the entire team at CTS for a fantastic job well done!

Andrew Jameson - Production Manager, Glyndebourne

I’ve loved collaborating with CTS; the team are always so supportive in the design process. Their creativity across departments is wonderful, and I can rely on them to create work to the highest standard, with exceptional attention to detail.

Elin Steele - Elin Steele Design

Salome was the first set we approached CTS about building. Designed by Leslie Travers, the scale and the engineering requirements went beyond anything else we had previously built. CTS provided expert advice and made the process very straightforward for us. Working to our budget and timeline the set was constructed and finished to a very high standard. Leejay and the whole CTS team were a pleasure to work with and we’ll definitely be retuning to Cardiff for future projects.

Gavin O'Sullivan - Irish National Opera

Thank you to you and your team for your exquisite work on the set for The Audience. It was so beautifully painted. Perfect.

Bob Crowley - The Audience

I’d like to thank the whole team at CTS for the epic work on 'Company'. Their patience, skill, attention to detail and care delivering this show was awesome.

Bunny Christie - Set & Costume Designer

My heartfelt thanks to the entire team at CTS on a challenging project. It was an utter pleasure to work with you all. You are all splendid.

Tom Harrison - Production Manager - Glyndebourne Festive Opera

CTS are as good at customer service and exceeding expectations as they are at building and delivering high quality scenery.

Luke Child - Production Manager - Leicester Curve
Find out about

Our Departments

At Cardiff Theatrical Services, our scenic construction team offer a comprehensive building experience taking a project, large or small, from initial sketches and plans through to a beautifully realised product.

Learn about

Our Artwork

The CTS scenic art department is a highly trained team of experienced and skilled scenic artists, capable of a wide range of artistic disciplines and techniques.

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Our Work

Naturally, we’re extremely proud of the work we produce, from the smallest project to the largest, each deserves the same attention to detail.