I first saw this version of Iolanthe in college, and to me, this is ultimate version.
Every year, in Canada, there is something called the Stratford Festival, which is a theatrical festival where they put on several of Shakespeare's plays. Apparently, they find the time to throw in some Gilbert and Sullivan occasionally.
In my mind, Iolanthe is the best of the G&S operettas. It is witty, engaging, and the music is superb. This production has very clever scenery and an excellent cast (though an occasional Canadian accent is disconcerting). As another reviewer mentioned, they take extreme liberties with the words to several songs, changing them to make topical references to Canadian politics, which are incomprehensible to an American, almost 20 years after the fact. Still, a few of the references still work and I actually prefer them to the actual lyrics.
The only thing which mars this almost perfect performance is Eric Donkin, who plays the Lord Chancellor. For whatever reason, he seems to view himself as a beloved theatrical figure, and is CONSTANTLY hamming it up, and shamelessly playing to the audience. I've checked the database for some of his other work, assuming there must be some reason for his behavior, but there is almost nothing significant listed for him, which makes his behavior all the more irritating.
Please note, that this is the absolute BEST of the Stratford Gilbert and Sullivan productions. The other two that are available: "The Mikado" and "The Gondelliers" are both unwatchable.
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