North Shore Light Opera Society
Live, High Value, Classic Musical Theatre on the North Shore
Welcome to the NSLOS production of Iolanthe! I have been enthralled by the work of Gilbert & Sullivan since the age of 12, when my father first played for me a recording of The Pirates of Penzanze - on records, if you remember them. For my next birthday, I asked for the record sets of HMS Pinafore and The Mikado, and, for many birthdays following, a new D’Oyly Carte boxed set was always one of my presents. By the time I was sixteen, I owned a complete set of G&S records, likely pointing to an obsessive interest in these masters of the English operetta stage. To be honest, probably not my only obsession - ask me about “Doctor Who” sometime - but certainly one of my favourites, and Iolanthe is a favourite among favourites. By the time they created this operetta in 1882, G&S were at the height of their creative powers, having already written HMS Pinafore and The Pirates of Penzanze, with The Mikado and The Gondoliers still to come. Adding to the excitement of the show was the fact that the theatre in which it was being produced, the Savoy Theatre, had just become the first theatre in the world to be wired with those new-fangled, electric lights. Not a few customers arrived either hoping or fearing that they were about to witness some awful calamity. No such calamity occurred, fortunately, and Iolanthe would go on to see 398 performances in that initial run. Exquisitely tuneful and frequently hilarious, Gilbert straddles two worlds in this operetta, with the Fairy chorus firmly in his whimsical fantasy mode and the dialogue containing some of his most pointed and specific criticisms of the government of the day. In the middle of a Canadian minority Parliament, it was difficult to read of “Liberals and Conservatives” from the 1880’s and not see the continued relevance of the show, which led quickly to the decision to stage this production loosely in the modern era. Which brings us to today. So sit back; open your ears and prepare to submerge yourself in the world of Iolanthe! Oh - and if anybody misses the excitement of the original opening night, we are available to electrocute audience members on request.