Tuesday 5 October 2010

Lady Benda

I saw this in the paper on 25-sep and I wondered... Lady Milverton... if there was a link to Britt's grandmother-in-law, who I met just once, at Britt's wedding 15 years ago. The family always spoke of her as "Lady Bender" (which puzzled me - an unlikely aristo name) - now I know it was "Lady Benda". Then I read Daisy's blog which led via Google to a fascinating group of articles:

Sunday 3 October 2010

G&S thoughts

The Sky Arts Gilbert & Sullivan season is winding down now.

I just saw a treat within it: a Thames TV filming of Jonathan Miller's ENO production of The Mikado from 1987 and featured Eric Idle as Ko-Ko and Lesley Garrett as Yum-Yum.

The setting was relocated to an English art deco seaside hotel of the 1920s, with the chorus featuring as customers, maids and bellhops.

The superb costumes were by Sue Blane (sh also did The Rocky Horror Show). The Mikado himself is in a fat suit seemingly inspired by Peter Ustinov as Poirot or Mr. Creosote.

I saw the ENO revival around 2001, which seemed delightfully fresh. There are too many people who are overly-protective about the G&S canon and opposed to doing what G&S would have done to keep bringing in new audiences.

Simon Butteris's excellent documentary series features contributions from his friend from Cambridge G&S Soc. days, Nick Hytner, who said that G&S's time has come again. That made me think that he'll now plan for a revival at the National Theatre sometime in the next couple of years. He has been putting on revivals of classic musicals and G&S are the origin of the modern stage & screen musicals, so it's a natural step.

There's a clear antagonism between a group of purists, seemingly aligned with the defunct D'Oyly Carte Opera Company, and people who want to bring G&S to modern audiences. For instance at one of Raymond Gubbay's Christmas concerts at the Barbican, fearuring ex-DOC personnel, some of them made carping comments, clapped by some of the audience, about more recent revival attempts, seemingly based on a lack of 'purity'.

In 2002 I saw the New D'oyly Carte Opera Company's production of The Mikado at the Savoy, featuring Brian Blessed as a wondrously OTT Mikado. Sue Blane's costumes for the film Topsy Turvy were used in this production.