Date 11th March 2015
Society Astwood Bank Operatic Society
Venue Palace Theatre Redditch
Type of Production Musical
Director Steve Skinner
Musical Director Austin Poll
Choreographer Georgie Roberts and Kirstie Wagg


Author: Michael Hastilow on behalf of Ian Cox

Iolanthe is a much loved and well known offering from the pen of WS Gilbert and Sir Arthur Sullivan so it was with a certain amount of trepidation that I read in the programme that the action was set in unspecified Victorian/Edwardian times , with scant regard for historical or constitutional accuracy !

I need not have concerned myself unduly, the ruse was to smooth the way to allow a full participation by all the company, in essence half the peers were ladies pre-empting the constitutional changes to allow such a situation by over a century.

I attended on first night where there were a few glitches but nothing that would not be cleared up in the succeeding performances.

The fairies were young and beautiful, certainly they were from the Circle where I sat, The Queen of the Fairies (Ellie Peberdy) was Regal and Iolanthe (Roz Chalk) was, as the script requires,   too young to have a handsome son like Strephon ( Michael Hastings).. The Peers and Peeresses looked and sounded very regal and then we had Phyllis (Sophie Hill) and two cheeky chappies in the form of the Lord Chancellor ( Michael Faulkner) and Private Willis (Michael Hawkins) .

In all, a good well rounded show with sound principals, the limelight was, as is expected in G & S, stolen by the antics of The Lord Chancellor and it was a delight to watch Michael Faulkner unravel Fairy Law. The President of the Society , Michael Hawkins was there to welcome me on my arrival at the Theatre and then he opened Act 2 as   Private Willis with his philosophical  “When all night long a chap remains…” suitably embellished to incorporate all current politicians and political groupings. 

The scenery was special, a houses of parliament which lit up was a splendid background, the costumes too were very apt, I especially liked the way the fairy wings lit up.

In conclusion, an enjoyable evenings entertainment.

Michael Hastilow