Set in the 1880s, the story of how, during a creative dry spell, the partnership of the legendary musical/theatrical writers Gilbert and Sullivan almost dissolves, before they turn it all around and write the Mikado.
In a poor working class London home Penny's love for her partner, taxi-driver Phil, has run dry, but when an unexpected tragedy occurs, they and their local community are brought together, and they rediscover their love.
After their production "Princess Ida" meets with less-than-stunning reviews, the relationship between Gilbert and Sullivan is strained to breaking. Their friends and associates attempt to get the two to work together again, which opens the way to "The Mikado," one of the duo's greatest successes.Written by
Steve Fenwick <email@example.com>
The small portrait on the night table in Lucy Gilbert's bedroom is a photograph of the real W.S. Gilbert. See more »
As Temple discusses Princess Ida, he removes all of his makeup with cold cream. At the end of the scene, he removes heavy black eyeliner that wasn't there a moment ago. See more »
[after extracting Gilbert's bad tooth]
I must say, my wife and I did find "Princess Ida" rather too long, don't you know.
[mumbles indignantly around the gauze in his mouth]
Try not to speak, old chap.
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I am a violinist who has done a lot of theater shows and have seen lots of theater rehearsal.
For me this film has everything - the scenery is more lavish and beautiful than I've ever witnessed anywhere. For me, the interest _is_ the behind-the-scenes view of the actors. The fact that Allan Corduner (Sullivan) is actually a musician (not just miming the piano work) is a real plus. The scene of the recital of his "Lost Chord" was a marvelous musical moment. It captured the atmosphere of an old-style home recital, with earnest artists and elegant surroundings. And the rehearsal scene with the trio Grossmith (Koko), Barrington (Poo-bah), and Beauville each singing why they can't chop their own heads off is a marvelous view of what rehearsal can and should be like. Everyone has learned their words but now we're refining the artistry. The director assumes the viewer is well versed and doesn't beat him over the head. I feel honored that I am being treated as an intelligent watcher. When Gilbert says to Beauville, "I've gone to great length to give you triplets..... so let's do it again and let's ....'trip'", and they do, and it really works, I get the feeling that they live in and understand my world. Every moment of the film has for me a beauty.
The snippets of the other G&S operettas are astounding. The wake-up scene in The Sorcerer is probably only a minute long, but each word and glance is well chosen, and everyone is in perfect character. Like the cliché, "Every bride is beautiful.", every man and woman in this cast is beautiful.
Another remarkable moment in the film is Temple's "Mikado Song" when he dances, and the aftermath where Gilbert cuts the number and it then gets reinstated by the chorus men and women cornering Gilbert in the stairwell. My experience is that people in theater really do care for each other and they wish each other well. When someone does something of artistic merit, they know it, and want it to be displayed.
Almost every moment of this film rings true to me as a musician, and I treasure it. I can start this video at any random spot on the tape and find something to enjoy for 10 seconds or for another hour.
Because much of the film centers around Mikado, anyone who has ever worked on Mikado as an actor, crew, or musician will find much to enjoy. For someone who is not at all familiar with that operetta, I could understand them feeling that they can't see the continuity-- because the director has chosen not to repeat things. You will see this part and that part in preliminary stages of rehearsal but not again later, so if you saw the behind the scenes work, you won't see the 'finished product' except in the case of "Three Little Maids."
I was left wishing that this cast actually had created a full length version of Mikado, but alas I don't believe they did; all this work was for the sake of this film and it's not a documentary of an actual living repertory group.
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