Iolanthe was produced by the Cowichan Musical Society; and directed by:
Maria Ridewood (drama)
Peter Yelland (music)
Joyce Scott (choreography)
In the 1880's, fairy stories were in vogue - Hans Anderson was much admired - and parliamentary reform was a topical issue. It came as no surprise, then, that Gilbert and Sullivan should exploit these current themes to produce Iolanthe, a frothy mixture of escapism and political satire. This last element has become a much anticipated feature of every production as different eras provide different high profile characters for lampooning. When the show was first produced in 1882, the Wagnerian figure of the Fairy Queen represented Queen Victoria; Strephon was Randolph Churchill, the Lord Chancellor was Gladstone; and Private Willis was Queen Victoria's trusted ghillie John Brown. In our 1999 production, darts were fired at high profile Canadian politicians such as Prime Minister Jean Chretien and British Columbia's Gordon Wilson, as well as venturing south of the border to skewer President Clinton. Happily for us, the misdeeds of the politicians were (and continue to be) so plentiful that we had lots of material to work with. We really were spoilt for choice!
(Poster by Jennifer Lally)