Gilbert and Sullivan Archive



Barclay Gordon: What do we take to be the right age for Private Willis? If he is youthful (say 25 like Strephon), then his final pairing with the Queen will seem anomalous. But if he is about her apparent age, then we are talking about a fifty year-old private! To me, that is like talking about a sixty year-old debutante or a seven year-old basso profundo. It raises more questions than it answers.

Ray Thackeray: I'm very happy with Willis as a 50 year old Private. I just seems right, whether or not it's militarily accurate...

Kenton L Chambers: When I played Private Willis last summer, the age of the *actor* was 66, but with dyed hair and a dark moustache, the character presumably was of an undefined age. The lady playing the Queen was in her early 20's, made-up to appear "mature." I was aware of the mismatched ages, but in my mind's eye I thought of Willis as being a widower, perhaps, who had not previously imagined that he might be attractive to such an imposing lady of obviously royal lineage.

Updated 28 November 1997