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Iolanthe

Libretto by WS Gilbert and music by Sir Arthur Sullivan

Introduction

Written in 1882, this was the first of Gilbert and Sullivan's operas to be performed at the newly 
built Savoy Theatre.  It was introduced to late Victorian Britain at a time when political issues were 
fiercely debated.  As a satirical comic opera centred around the venerated institution of The House of Lords, 
its success was therefore not surprising.  In fact, it enjoyed a run of 398 performances and remains one of
Gilbert and Sullivan's most frequently performed operas. 

 Synopsis 

Twenty-five years ago, Iolanthe, a fairy, was banished by the Fairy Queen to penal servitude for having
married a mortal, the Lord Chancellor.  Repeated pleas from fellow fairies warms their Queen's heart and
Iolanthe is forgiven and pardoned.  We learn that shortly after her banishment, Iolanthe 
gave birth to a son, Strephon, who is 'half a fairy' (down to the waist).  He has fallen in love with a
Ward of Chancery, Phyllis, but has been denied her hand in marriage by her guardian, the Lord Chancellor.  
As the Peers gather in the House of Lords, it is decided that Phyllis should be awarded to whichever  
Peer she may 'think proper to select'.  However, when Phyllis arrives, she reveals her engagement to Strephon.  
This greatly disturbs the Peers and the Chancellor interrogates Strephon about his relationship with 
Phyllis.  Strephon is unable to convince the Chancellor about Phyllis' love for him and when rebuked, seeks consolation from his mother.  Disaster breaks loose, however, when Strephon and her mother (who, because 
she is a fairy, still appears to be 17 years old) are spotted together by the Peers.  

What a nice quandary!  How does Strephon get out of this alleged double-dealing?? 

1949 
Our first production of Iolanthe. 


1978


1989

1999




NODA Review
Northern NODA news.  February 2000                                                                                                                                                                Trevor Harder
This was a truly enchanting presentation of this much loved fairy story.  The Overture set the musical high standards for the evening, very well played and taken at the usual great pace we expect from Tony Hurst.  The sets were lovely, with lots of fairy lights (what else?), and framed Val Corbitt's excellent production perfectly, which combined an ideal balance of tradition with innovation, consumed in an Arcadian 1920's.  All the principals gave a very good account of themselves, with the advantage that the gentlemen, in particular, were able to bring a youthful enthusiasm to their roles.  Fu Meng Khaw brought super diction to his Chancellor, and Richard Temperley and Kaye Rudd were charming as the rustic lovers Strephon and Phyllis.  Austin Gunn (Mountararat) and Philip Smith (Tolloler) were upper-class twits to the manner born; while June Postings played her Fairy Queen as dotty rather than over bossy, and it suited the style of the show "very well".  It is such a joy to see the Savoy Operas stylishly presented in their proper context, with a well drilled orchestra.  It was clearly appreciated, not only by this reviewer, but the good house on the Thursday.  Well done. 

News Guardian Review
News Guardian, 10 June 1999                                                                                                                                                                                 Leonard Grant
Tynemouth Gilbert and Sullivan Society's production of Iolanthe took place this week at the Priory Theatre, Tynemouth.  The scene opens in an Arcadian landscape and the fairies enter followed by the Queen.  The story follows on the Peers enter with the Lord Chancellor, Strephon and Phyllis and with all the glamour of the House of Lords surprisingly in striped blazers and straw boaters.  We were relaxed to see them in Act II in their splendid robes.  Act II gives us the palace and Westminster Hall and the Arch Tower, with private Willis (Michael Buyers) in splendid voice.  The singing of the chorus was excellent.  The modern approach to the fairies dancing was very clever.  Val Corbit's direction throughout was perfect.  The story cam across very clearly.  Steve Arnott's sets were imaginative.  Act II was especially good.  The cast of principals led by the Lord Chancellor (Fu-Meng Khaw) sang with great style, their diction was perfect.  Their numerous solos, duets, trios, and quartets brought the lovely music of G and S to life. Tony Hurst's direction throughout was superb.  
The orchestra was under his complete control and contributed to an excellent evening of Gilbert and Sullivan.  The audience appreciation was very apparent. 


2011


2011 - Photos by George Knox


Act 1 Finale

NODA Review

Report by: Jim Graham on Friday 20 May 2011
Venue: Playhouse Theatre, Whitley Bay
Type of Production: Gilbert & Sullivan
Producer/Director: Val Corbitt
Musical Director: Meng Khaw
Choreographer: Val Corbitt

Show Report

‘Iolanthe’ was last presented by this society in 1999 and it is obviously a favourite, with a few of the cast taking a fresh look at new roles. Tonight’s show was a delight to watch and listen to.

The story line is well-known, involving fairies as well as Liberal and Conservative peers in the House of Lords. Gilbert and Sullivan have always used satire to good effect, and Val Corbitt had adapted their work to poke fun at our present coalition government, which was well received by the audience. Principal line-up was Gareth Jones (Strephon); Julia Straw (Iolanthe); Rita Fallon (Queen of the Fairies); Jane Jackson (Phyllis); Richard Straw (Lord Chancellor); Paul Newman (Earl of Mountararat); and Tom Belilios (Earl of Tolloller). Fairies were led by Kaye Rudd (Celia); Susan Laws (Leila); and Rachel Taylor (Fleta) all daintily tripping hither and thither. Ron House (Private Willis) provided comedy in his excellent cameo role. All principals worked excellently together, keeping the audience entertained with their singing and acting skills. The Chorus also looked and sounded good, complementing the work of the Principals. Appropriate scenery was provided by A1 Stage, with costumes from Alan Graham, plus in house support from Dorothy Wears. The Society is very fortunate in being well supported by thespians from other local societies. The Programme notes that “The Lord Chancellor (an old Equity Draughtsman) arrives at a clever solution and happiness prevails”. I couldn’t agree more. I wish the Society good luck for their Diamond Jubilee in 2012 with their presentation of The Yeomen of the Guard.
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