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Maureen Forrester ...
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WHO and Sullivan?
11 January 2001 | by (Vero Beach, FL) – See all my reviews

First, the music and the singing and the costumes and stategecraft were fantastic, everything the previous reviewer said.

But...I sometimes wasn't sure whether I was listening to Gilbert & Sullivan or Sullivan & someone else.

It's very common for Gilbert and Sullivan companies to pop in a few contemporary references now and then. But here they went overboard. The early moviemakers learned that what works OK on stage, such as gag references about the politicos of the day, doesn't always work in the more permanent form of film. Same for video. I might have gotten some of the jokes if it were still 1984 and I were Canadian, but they didn't survive time and national borders.

For instance, in here the Fairy Queen originally sang the praises of one "Captain Shaw." Gilbert didn't explain who that was, and a new viewer might be confused. But informed Gilbertians say it was the Savoy Theater's fire marshal. This could be left alone and explained in the liner notes. It's not a joke anymore, but it is Gilbertia. But nooooo. This production replaces it with what might have been a real thigh-slapper in 1984. She sings about the BBC and someone named "Nolte Nash."

Who?

My point precisely.

Having to explain something Gilbert wrote in the libretto may be worth it as history. Having to explain something a rewrite man wrote for one production surely isn't.


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