Tuesday, September 8th, 2009
IT may be 127 years old – but Gilbert & Sullivan’s Iolanthe still resonates today, mocking the British House of Lords.

Directed by John Milson with musical direction from Daniel Masmanian, the Gilbert & Sullivan Society of WA production comes to the Playhouse Theatre from September 17 to 20.

Iolanthe brings an army of fairies into direct warfare with the British House of Lords when a law is passed, deeming that all fairies will die if they don’t marry a mortal – a law established simply to prevent a marriage that is frowned upon.

In the past 30 years, Milson has established an Australia-wide reputation as a director and teacher in opera, operetta, musical theatre and drama, responsible for more than 150 productions and was previously the head of music theatre at the WA Academy of Performing Arts for 12 years.

“At the time they wrote Iolanthe, both Gilbert and Sullivan were in their peak creative years and this was their seventh work together, drawing the best from the composer and author,” Milson said.

Iolanthe was first produced in 1882, opening London’s renowned Savoy Theatre, and followed the Gilbert & Sullivan successes of H.M.S. Pinafore in 1878 and The Pirates of Penzance in 1879.

“Gilbert had taken potshots at the aristocracy before but, in this opera, he lampoons the House of Lords for being ineffective, privileged and dim-witted,” Milson said.

“The political party system and other institutions also come in for a dose of satire but both the author and composer manage to complement the criticism it with some amiable absurdities that all come across as good fun.”

Among the impressive cast for Iolanthe are Conrad Crisafulli as the Lord Chancellor, Katja Webb as Phyllis, Janis Lang as Queen of the Fairies and Anita Saftich as Iolanthe.

Webb has previously sung with Dame Kiri Te Kanawa and was recently in the WA Opera Company’s production of Bizet’s The Pearlfishers while Crisafulli originally performed in Iolanthe – also directed by Milson – in 1976 as The Peer.

“I’m honoured to be once again working with John in this great show and to have been promoted from Peer to Lord Chancellor,” he said.

Iolanthe plays at 7.30pm, September 17, 18 and 19 and 7pm, September 20, with 2.15pm matinees on September 19 and 20, at the Playhouse Theatre on Pier Street, Perth. Bookings through BOCS on 9484 1133 or www.bocsticketing.com.au.

The Sunday matinee is a fundraiser for the newly-formed Royal Perth Hospital Heritage Society with a “meet the cast” afternoon tea following the show.

Contact Profile

Gilbert & Sullivan Society of Western Australia

On March 31, 1951, Bernard Manning wrote an article in the Daily News in which he stated his desire to start a Gilbert and Sullivan Society in Perth. The response to this article was immense. On April 27, a meeting was held and the society was formed.

Over the years, the society has received grants from the WA Arts Council and Department of the Arts, free use of the orchestra, sponsorship and the Gilbert and Sullivan/A. N. Bullock Trust.

The society celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2001.
Maureen Collett
P: (08) 9377 5964
W: www.gilbertandsullivanwa.org.au


Famed Gilbert & Sullivan musical on at Perth's Playhouse Theatre


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