Date 17th March 2022
Society Wivenhoe Musical Theatre Group
Venue William Loveless Hall, Wivenhoe
Type of Production G&S
Director Nikki Robinson
Musical Director Hilary Brunning
Pianist Joe Richardson
Production Manager Jan Tyne


Author: Hazel Hole

I was well recieved on arrival and was able to speak with the Director after the performance.

Iolanthe is a well known comic opera performed with great enthusiasm and skill by this talented cast. This was an exuberant, sparkling production which moved along at a fast pace.

The title role was played by Clare Allmond who brought just the right amount of drama and sometimes pathos to the role.

Hilary Brunning, as Phyllis the Arcadian shepherdess, was gentle in manner but strong in character, with plenty of energy on stage. She was well paired with Tim Glover, as Strephon, an Arcadian shepherd who was in love with her. There was a lovely moving duet between them. Tim really threw himself into the role of Strephon, bouncing around the stage with some great facial expressions and appeared to really enjoy the part.

It was wonderful to see and hear so many males on stage playing the roles of Peers in the House of Lords. Their collective voices displayed an incredible range, resulting in several strong and powerful numbers. Malcolm Burren as Earl of Mountararat, did particularly well with his solo, as did Des Newell as Earl Tolloller. Martin Sparks, as the Lord Chancellor, was magnificent in the role, authoritative, domineering but also tender and he had a most powerful stage presence. Played to perfection !.I loved the rather self important role played by Peter Bather, as Private Willis which, although a small part, added to the comedy element.

Now to the ladies, the fairies .Firstly Queen of the Fairies, a strident character was well played by Fiona Morris. Fiona’s voice was well suited to her solos and blended exceptionally well with the other fairies.

Lead fairies of Leila ( Nancy Hughes), Celia ( Zoe Stephens) and Fleta ( Sara Nice) worked well together and had first class stage presence. Some great harmonies in their musical numbers. There was also a large chorus of fairies, all contributing to the high musical standards. Choreography of chorus numbers was simple and effective.

Some of the costumes were really sumptuous, eg the fairy outfits which were predominately black with sharp and vibrant colours added. Queen of the Fairies outfit was particularly extravagant as was the Lord Chancellor’s outfit. In fact all the costumes, and wig were relevant to the characters, so well done to the wardrobe team !

The sets made the most of the very wide but shallow stage with screens, some hinged, to show firstly An Arcadian landscape and secondly the Palace Yard, Westminster. Congratulations to Stage Designer, Peter Cook and his team and to Production Manager, Jan Tyne who ensured that lighting and props were appropriate

Hilary Brunning directed the music with pianist, Joe Richardson the only musician. In fact Joe played the entire score and provided excellent support to the singers. Well done !

This was a first class performance by everyone, both on stage and the back stage team and the audience were very appreciative.

Congratulations to everyone involved.