Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Iolanthe 2016

Wow, I can't believe it is two months since I last posted - I think I have been caught up with Iolanthe and lots of teaching - that is all I can manage as an excuse anyhow ! The run up to the show had its usual ups and downs. These fluctuations in highs and lows are par for the course, and such a large emotional and exhausting undertaking is never ever without this. Sometimes I think I almost survive because of it ! There have been one or two crisis moments over the last five productions which were a step too far, but this year's extravaganza did not have any of those life or death happenings. It was as smooth a run up as it could be, and the company worked fantastically and with their amazing team spirit. 

It had some glorious sections and the standard of the singing was tremendous - full, healthy and so full of vibrancy. I was so privileged this year as I could sit in the audience and simply watch and enjoy the show. I collected my grandchildren from Inverness airport on the day of the penultimate performance so when we arrived back at the venue we picked three seats and I became ( for the first time in my producing life) a member of the audience who could laugh and whoop and share some of the detailed mo nets with a 13 and 9 year old ! It was an amazing experience, and one I would love to repeat again. If I am honest I'm not sure if I could do it from performance 1 when I need to pace and metaphorically bite my nails whilst it all shakes down and falls into place !

The adults are staunch and so strong both vocally and dramatically, and they have to take great responsibility as each has their own character and personality. In a chorus of 12 men each one is utterly crucial. I hope they appreciate how valued they are and what a difference they make with their individual personalities. The young voices are the centre of the amazing tone quality of the show, and it is such a privilege to have more than a dozen youngsters who want to sing this 19th century music ! They have a solidity of fresh and younthful tone which takes the whole standard of the show up about five levels from average and even good  amateur productions ! How lucky we are !

The male principals were, as usual funny, wild and acted with gay abandon, encouraged by our wonderfully loose canon M. E and I as the two lords grew in performance and humour each night, and after five nights the ad libs were flying like Easyjet ! M as the Chancellor was quite exquisite and even given the restrictions of wearing a kilt he managed to appear drunk and out of control from the moment he entered. M as the Scary Fairy Queen was majestic, and vocally lasted the course very well indeed, it is as if the role was written for her in character and vocal tessitura. She was absolutely in control of her fairy cohorts and the dim witted lords. What a star.

The younger roles were stunning and sparkling, N sang a heart breaking Iolanthe bringing a previously unsung reality to the final section when she offers her life for that of her son. This made for an interesting audience dynamic, and she managed to switch the atmosphere in the flick of a veil. A was a wonderfully bossy Phyllis, and even though her voice is dropping like a stone she upped her game, transposed the duets down a tone, and used every shred of her considerable talent to make her performance way beyond her 16 years. I can't wait to hear what magic will happen to this voice in a year or two ! M was such a wonderful Strephon ! She has always played female roles to this point and asked me if she could play a boy ! Strephon could have been written for her, bright, breezy, intelligent and full of fun and sass ! She was like a huge breath of fresh air when she stepped on stage, and she and A were a dream team pair of lovers !

L came back to us to sing a brilliant Private Willis, returning from the end of his second year at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and showed us that his voice has grown and developed over those years, but pleasingly still entirely recognisable as himself - no unnecessary changes to his large and resonant baritone voice. His facial expressions were a wonder to behold !

The three youngsters playing Celia, Leila and Fleta have doubled in vocal size since last year, and they were just delightful. Each had their own personality, a fairy with anger issues, a fairy with common sense and a fairy who was thoughtful and considered in her ideas, just lovely. They sang their music beautifully and with such maturity and held the tricky music of the chorus together with style and assuring. We have much to look forward to with this trio, and the others snapping at their ankles !

Tiny fairies stole the show when they appeared, working beautifully and adding to the detail of the overall picture. The production was set in deepest winter in a magical forest covered in snow and sparkle. It looked magnificent and was quite breathtaking when the audience first saw it. The costumes made by K were magnificent, so stunning and quite beautiful - they were exactly the picture which had lived in my head for the last year, and that is the finest compliment that I can ever give ! The time and effort was all worth it K and her ladies ! Many many thanks. The set was wonderful and thanks for that go to G and his team. 

I am lucky indeed to have a team with spirit, heart and the will to make my rather shimmery brain vision come true. I know the singers can do it, but without the rest of the team the singers are nothing !

A miracle of a show.

Enjoy some production and pre production photos

Phyllis and Strephon

The opening chorus

 Trio of fairies

Oooooo my !

 A nightmare of a song !

 Frolics in a trio !

Signs of things to come !

A serious and beautiful moment 

Tan tan ta ra !

 Blue Blood

The sewing team

 Final rehearsals !



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