5th August 2007
Philadelphia Gilbert and Sullivan Union
This company is an amalgamation of the G&S companies in the Philadelphia area to enable a production to be mounted in Buxton.
The overture was a little untidy in parts but during the rest of the operetta the work of the orchestra was good and in sympathy with the volume of the singers' voices.
The set was the standard woodland with the addition of a wall in the centre of the stage which was a useful item but could have caused problems?
In the opening chorus we not only had very pleasant singing but also well rehearsed dancing sequences. Possibly it was a bit much to expect both? The principal soloists were clear and with good diction. The Fairy Queen was impressive with a neat costume and a lovely speaking and singing voice; clear and with good projection. The removal of the stream weeds from Iolanthe by the fairies was very effective.
Strephon was dressed in a very smart manner - he was quite good at acting - he could have been more surprised with the number of aunts he had suddenly acquired? His duet with Phyllis was lovely. Phyllis was dressed in country attire which was very smart and presented a very pretty picture. Her acting was good and as an extra bonus her singing could have been directed more to the people to whom she was singing. She had a very pretty voice.
The peers made an impressive and colourful picture as they entered and there was a nice blend of voices. They could have been more pompous, although this finally came through in the last few lines of the peers' chorus.
The Lord Chancellor had an obviously professional speaking voice projection - loud and clear. His measured speed of singing fitted in to this first section. "When Darkly Looms the Day" gained a new innocence when a kissing gesture was used to illustrate "give her one".
In act two the opening song by Private Willis was good but his gestures after verse one made some people in the audience think that he had finished his song. His rifle handling and general military bearing was less than accurate. His uniform was a little undignified?
Mountararat excelled in "When Britain really ruled the waves...." in all aspects and received well deserved applause from the audience. During the sequence when the fairies are controlling the peers there was excellent interaction as the peers examined their feet/legs to see why they could not move. "Oh Foolish Fay" was very good and the addition of Captain Shaw in one of the theatre boxes was pleasing. Could it have been the Festival Director?????
When Willis joined in the quartet it was very well done particularly the part when Phyllis turned round in surprise at his joining them.
The Lord Chancellors solo "Love unrequited" was slow and accurate. An increased pace toward the end of the piece would have been preferred. Tolloller adapted his dancing well considering his injuries. The three worked well together to do a successful dance during the trio "He who shies at such a prize".
A lovely duet between Phyllis and Strephon for "If we're weak enough to tarry"
Iolanthe played the part as a sensitive, gentle, caring mother but failed to persuade the Lord Chancellor and was therefore prepared to forfeit her life once more.
All was well in the end and a very lively finale ensued. Altogether a very enjoyable performance, good pace, pleasant singing and colourful appearance.
I did not attend this production - Di went with Susan - Thanks to them both for the above thoughts.