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"F" ('Iolanthe' No. 1) Company in Birmingham


Birmingham Daily Post (Birmingham, England), Tuesday, August 19, 1884; Issue 8154.

Last night Mr. D'Oyly Carte's company commenced another engagement here with a very satisfactory performance of Messrs. Gilbert and Sullivan's fanciful and original operetta, "Iolanthe." That the popularity of this piece is not yet on the wane was sufficiently proved by the hearty and continuous applause which greeted each number last night, and by the large audience assembled, in spite of the hot weather so unfavourable to theatrical ventures at this season of the year. "Iolanthe" being one of the most recent products of its authors, is, perhaps, even more familiar to the musical public than its predecessors, or than its successor the "Princess Ida," and it would be quite superfluous to enter into any detailed description of what has already been so often noticed. Mr. Gilbert's witty and sarcastic dialogue is evidently better appreciated just now, when general attention has been drawn to the House of Peers by the recent franchise agitation, than when it was first produced. Much merriment was evoked last night by the song "When Britain really Ruled the Waves," and the audience testified by great applause their approval of Lord Mountararat's satirical remark, "If there is an institution of Great Britain not susceptible of any improvement whatever, it is the House of Lords."

The company has undergone several alterations since its last appearance here, and in most cases there is a marked improvement. Mr. John Wilkinson, as the Lord Chancellor, is quite equal, from a dramatic point of view, to his predecessors, while his vocal achievements are more successful. The same remarks may be applied to Mr. Hervet D'Egville, who plays Strephon,  and who specially distinguished himself in the lovely duet with Phyllis, "All in all to one another," and in the sprightly duet in the last act, "If we're weak enough to tarry."

Miss Haidee Crofton makes a gentle and pleasing Iolanthe, and displayed her sweet voice to great advantage in the plaintive song in which she declares herself to her husband, thereby incurring the penalty of death. The Phyllis of Miss Marion Grahame is a sprightly and piquant impersonation, and the possession of a powerful, well-trained voice is not the least of this young lady's merits. Of the Fairy Queen of Miss Fanny Harrison it would be superfluous to speak.

Messrs. T. W. Hemsley and James Sydney are extremely diverting as the two lords who get engaged to Phyllis; while the Private Willis of Mr. George Marler is a very praiseworthy performance.

The band and chorus show greater finish, and the charming dresses and scenery add not a little to the delightful ensemble.

The Era (London, England), Saturday, August 23, 1884; Issue 2396.

PRINCE OF WALES'S THEATRE. – Sole Proprietor, Mr. James Rodgers; Managers, Messrs James Rodgers and Son; Acting-Manager, Mr. C. M. Appleby. – Of all Sullivan's operas that of Iolanthe is probably the most popular and the most favoured in Birmingham. Whenever it has been performed it has always met with a hearty reception, indicating, as it has done, that its repetition would be always acceptable. This has been unmistakably demonstrated during the past week at the Prince of Wales's Theatre.

The cast, since the last visit of Mr. D'Oyly Carte's company, has undergone considerable alteration, and was as follows:– The Lord Chancellor, Mr. John Wilkinson; Earl of Mountararat, Mr. T. W. Hemsley; the Earl Tolloller, Mr. Jas. Sydney; Private Willis, Mr. George Marler; Strephon, Mr. Hervet D'Egville; Queen of the Fairies, Miss Fanny Harrison; Iolanthe, Miss Haidee Crofton; Lelia, Miss M. Levison; Celia, Miss Geraldine St. Maur; Fleta, Miss Emma Gwynne; and Phyllis, Miss Marion Grahame.

Some of the changes have proved a decided improvement; for instance the Phyllis of Miss Grahame, which was so admirably represented as to evoke the very marked approval of large audiences. Nor was Miss Crofton less pleasing in the character of Iolanthe. All the other parts, although not calling for any particular notice, were well sustained. As on former representations, the opera was excellently put upon the stage.

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