Alec J. Ruddick, NODA Regional Representative, SW Area District 10
This Gilbert & Sullivan opera, first produced at the Savoy Theatre on November 25th 1882, remains as popular today as it was then. With the usual witty dialogue and memorable music, it was a good choice for this Society to take on. The chorus singing is always of a very high standard and in this production it was particularly well sung. The Orchestra, under the Musical Direction of John Dempster, was well controlled and nicely balanced. The company was beautifully dressed with costumes from Elizabeth Stagewear. Sound and lighting was of a very high standard and the make-up wand wigs were extremely good.
Dramatis Personae – (in my opinion)
The Lord Chancellor – Michael Bolton. Michael made the best Lord Chancellor I have seen. His fine singing was well controlled, his dancing was, to say the least energetic and his diction was phenomenal. A truly professional performance in every way.
Lord Tolloller & Lord Mountararat – David Booth & Iain Murray. These two characters worked well together and made a good foil for each other. They also sang well.
Private Willis – David Coxon. This is a gem of a cameo part and was played and sung with fine military bearing until he was made into a fairy and was then hilariously camp.
Strephon – Kevin Murdoch. Another fine singing voice and played extremely well with clarity of voice and made much of the humour of this character.
Phyllis – Olivia Hodgson. This young lady has not only a fine singing voice but in this part was able to show what a good actress she is.
Fairy Queen – Nikki Angel-Jull. Played with great strength and dignity. Her song “Oh, foolish fay” was extremely well done.
Iolanthe – Fionne Harrington. Played with great emotion but at the same time never forgetting the comedy of the story.
Leading Fairies: Celia – Julie Gower. Leila – Kate Sheppard. Both made contributions to the fine singing of the fairies and added extra charm to them, and as for Fleta – Jeni Colton, what a performance throughout. Her poseur at the opening of the show set the scene for the hilarity and always trying to out do the other fairies. Even at the end in “Soon as we may, off and away” to enter swigging a bottle of gin and flirting with the young page boy was a fitting end to a great performance – thank-you so much.
I have always enjoyed the productions of S.A.O.S. but for me, this has to be the best. Under the masterly Direction of Alistair Donkin this Society have attained even greater heights. This was really entertainment at its best.
Cast of Iolanthe prove they’re no amateurs
FORGET the word ” amateur” in this society’s title – this show could rival any professional company’s performance. The energy and enthusiasm of the cast and musicians never wavered and the only concern for the first night audience was how on earth this level of exuberance could be maintained for another four shows.
Much of the credit belongs to award winning director Alistair Donkin, who played all the patter roles when he was with the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company, and, for SAOS, certainly put the fizz into the fairies and the pomposity into the peers. He also brought the story up to date with New Labour, David Cameron and Tony Blair all getting a mention.
Michael Bolton, given the patter role of the Lord Chancellor, was superb and managed to sing with gusto even while dancing vigorously and being lifted off his feet. His performance of Love unrequited, which includes the line crossing Salisbury Plain on a bicycle’, was masterful and rightly deserved a second rendition.And if you go in you’re sure to win proved so popular with the audience, they demanded encore after encore. Nikki Angel-Jull (Fairy Queen) and Fionne Harrington (Iolanthe) got better and better, and Nikki’s scenes with David Coxon (Private Willis) showed off a great comedy double act. Olivia Hodgson (Phyllis) has a sweet voice, just right for G& S, and Iain Murray (Lord Mountararat) gave a sterling performance in When Britain really ruled the waves.There was much else to commend this show: great costumes – particularly the peers’ ermine robes and the Fairy Queen’s gown – sets, excellent diction and an orchestra, under the baton of John Dempster, that positively buzzed.
The society is celebrating its centenary next year and can be confident that if it continues to produce shows like this one, it will have no trouble filling the City Hall for many years to come.
Southern Daily Echo
Life’s not easy for a young man when your mum’s a fairy and the entire house of Lords fancy your girlfriend. These are just some of the problems facing Strephon (Kevin Murdoch) as he prepares to marry Phyllis (Olivia Hodgson). Luckily a chorus of feisty fairies come to his aid and help him find his happy ending.
Director Alistair Donkin has chosen to stay true to the original version f this Gilbert & Sullivan piece, with just a few topical additions for comic value. His slick direction set a good pace and made most of this excellent cast.
Michael Bolton’s characterisation of The Lord Chancellor was superb, particularly his Act II solo. There were a few sound problems in places and it was difficult to hear the words on Iolanthe’s (Fionne Harrington) final solo but this was compensated by spectacular costumes and a perfectly rehearsed chorus.