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Thursday, 17 May 2018

REVIEW: Iolanthe at the Richmond Theatre

Gilbert and Sullivan comic operas are somewhat less frequently produced now then when I first encountered the whole repertoire in the 1960's and 1970's but occasionally a fresh production breathes new life into these most British of operas. Joseph Papp's Pirates of Penzance and Jonathan Miller's The Mikado successfully created exciting new versions of these best known titles. Sasha Regan's production which started at Union theatre and is currently on tour in U.K. takes the tale of the House of Lords and a group of fairies and seeks to reinvent the story. At a time of gender blind casting, she takes this to new extremes with an all male cast and sets this up with the pretext that they are schoolboys discovering the old script in an old theatre. In the beautiful grandeur of the Richmond Theatre which opened in 1899 ( just 17 years after the original Iolanthe opened) this pretext looks odd, rather cheap and the opening sequence of the cast entering through the auditorium with torches and discovering the libretto seemed overlong and laboured. It is never really clear what is gained by the all male cast and after a while the joke wears thin.

When we first meet the fairies in "Tripping Hither ,Tripping thither" the sight of a chorus of men dressed in female underwear tripping across the stage in a faux ballet is amusing and brings new meaning to their "fairy ring". It is intriguing that some of the Mark Smith choreography looks like partial sign language but it is not carried through. There are some original and creative ideas using step ladders, umbrellas and dressing room mirrors in the choreography but they just feel odd on the huge Richmond stage and it's glorious proscenium arch. The Victorian closet is the only major setting and cast members are frequently directed to come out of it.

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Cast announced for Sasha Regan's all-male Iolanthe UK tour

A dynamic all-male cast have been announced for the return of Sasha Regan’s most critically acclaimed production, Iolanthe – one of Gilbert and Sullivan’s most famous operettas.

Torches flash in the darkness as a party of naughty schoolboys adventure into the magical surroundings of an old theatre. Amid all the backstage paraphernalia they discover a Narnia-likewardrobe and a dusty copy of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Iolanthe. What follows is pure magic!

The exciting cast are: Reece Budin (Matilda the Musical, The Civic in Australia; Man of La Mancha, Seymour Centre; Pacific Overtunes, Theatre Works), Michael Burgen (Spamalot, Playhouse Theatre; All-Male H.M.S. Pinafore, UK Tour; The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, New Vic Theatre), Richard Carson (Mamma Mia, Novello Theatre; Miss Saigon, Prince Edward Theatre; Wicked, UK and Ireland Tour), Christopher Finn (Alice’s Adventures Underground, The Vaults; Molly Wobbly’s Tit Factory, Leicester Square Theatre; All-Male Iolanthe, Union Theatreand Wilton’s Music Hall), James Gulliford (Salad Days, Theatre Royal Bath; Labyrinth, Hampstead Theatre; Luna Park, Tristan Bates Theatre), Dominic Harbison (Annie Get Your Gun, Union Theatre; Sunset Boulevard, Yvonne Arnaud Theatre; Aladdin, Stratford Arts House), Joe Henry (Cats, UK/International Tour; Miracle on 34th Street, Madinat Theatre in Dubai; LIFT The Musical, whilst training), Alastair Hill (Dreamboats and Petticoats, UK Tour; Dreamboats and Miniskirts, UK Tour; The Fix, Union Theatre), Jack Hinton (Christmasaurus: Live!, Eventim Hammersmith Apollo; Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again, Universal Pictures), Jamie Jukes (Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, UK Tour; The Rocky Horror Show, European Tour; All- Male Mikado, UK Tour), Sam Kipling (The Habit or Art, National Theatre; Archibald Craven, whilst training; Bullets Over Broadway, whilst training), Daniel Miles (All-Male Mikado, UK Tour;One Man Two Guvnors, Welsh Tour; Grease, Scandinavia), Benjamin Mundy (Annie, Piccadilly Theatre; Grease, Dubai; Cats, London Palladium), Adam Pettit (The 12 Tenors 10th Anniversary Tour, European Tour; Beauty and the Beast, Palace Theatre in Newark; Out There, Union Theatre), Richard Russell Edwards (All-Male H.M.S. Pinafore, Union Theatre; All-Male Pirates of Penzance, UK Tour; All-Male Mikado, UK Tour) and Duncan Sandilands (Carousel, Barbican;South Pacific, Kilworth House; Thursford Christmas Spectacular, Thursford).
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