MOTHER AND SON Hilary Dyson and Michael Foster do much more than share a love of music and theatre. They have taken to treading the boards together as well.

Both were involved in York Light Opera Company’s recent production of Stephen Sondheim’s musical comedy, Company.

Now, Hilary is swapping the limelight for the directing chair, as she assumes the role of assistant director for York Opera’s production of Gilbert & Sullivan’s Iolanthe, in which Michael plays the leading role of Strephon.

Hilary’s foray into musical theatre started young, taking part in school and university productions, particularly of those written by Gilbert and Sullivan.

“I’ve always had a very real passion for musical theatre,” she says. “I love acting and singing in equal measure, and I have great memories from all my past productions. Though this all had to take a back seat when Michael was born.”

Michael took up playing the violin aged seven, later becoming a chorister at Rochester Cathedral. “It was a big lifestyle change for all of us, including my sister and dad,” says Michael. “Six days a week of rehearsals and services, including Saturdays and Sundays. It was a huge commitment, but it was a real experience which I’m lucky to have had.”

As Michael’s time as a chorister finished, the family moved to York.

Once settled Hilary sought out both York Opera and York Light Opera Company. Michael briefly joined her for York Opera’s production of HMS Pinafore. Michael then attended Newcastle University, where he was involved in productions of Sweeney Todd and Fame.

“It’s interesting actually being on stage together having done so much apart,” says Hilary, an accountancy software advisor by day.

“I’ve been living at home since I finished my MA,” says Michael, who works at York Theatre Royal. “There’s nothing like a spot of theatre to make friends and get some exercise, particularly during the dance routines.”

Was Hilary tempted to be Iolanthe and have an actual mother and son in both roles?

“A little,” she says. “But I do enjoy directing. And we have a great cast and I know we’ll put on a great show – and I’m not sure I’d pass for a seventeen year old – even with good stage lighting.”

• Iolanthe, York Theatre Royal, November 7 to 10. Tickets from the Theatre Royal on 01904 623568.