Words by W.S. Gilbert and Music by Arthur Sullivan
The Guildhall,
March 1950
Cast List
The Lord Chancellor
Earl of Mountararat
Earl Tolloller
Private Willis
Queen of the Fairies
Lord Chancellor's Attendant

Notes on this performance

22. Iolanthe

Too many ladies…

The Committee recommended Iolanthe as the next production to the AGM and, for once, the members approved of their selection. John A Edwards and D Cecil Williams were again elected as the directing team, though the former was evidently not very keen on working with large choruses. At this time there were 36 ladies wanting to be in the show which, once principals were removed, meant a women’s chorus of 31, but Mr Edwards declared that 24 would be the maximum number.

It was suggested at Committee that ‘certain below standard members should be notified that they would not be in Iolanthe’ but the vote on this proposal was split equally - the Chairman refusing to use his casting vote. In order to avoid too much ill feeling amongst the members, a compromise was then reached with 20 ladies being selected for all the performances and the other four places being shared by the remaining seven. There is no record of how this decision was received by the company but there were several resignations and the final number in the ladies’ chorus was 18 – one of the rare occasions when the men’s chorus (22) was larger. 

Meanwhile, the SAOS Social Committee was busy and trips to other productions were arranged – Iolanthe (D’Oyly Carte), The Arcadians (SMS), Ruddigore (EOMS), Patience (WOS) and Iolanthe (Romsey OS). Bert Wareham also recommended that a new ‘recording instrument’ should be purchased as it ‘would prove of value at rehearsals,’ but at £70 it was thought to be far too expensive. 

Further consideration was given to the Society purchasing its own property, ideally a double fronted house that could be converted and be used as a base and rehearsal venue. A sub-committee was set up to investigate further but they were concerned that the long line of profitable shows might not continue far into the future and warned against spending all of the funds on this venture. However, £1250 was put into a Building Fund in the hope that it could be added to whenever possible.

The Echo reviewer thought that the choice of show was ideal considering an election was imminent and had no problems in hearing the diminished ladies’ chorus: ‘The principals were well cast and very competent; the chorus well-drilled and singing with gusto and good quality voice. Tom Judd (Chancellor) quite definitely is the hit of the show, not all his colleagues lived up to his high standard as regards making every syllable tell. Two very satisfactory performances came from Bernard Harman and Ronald Bottley as Mountararat and Tolloller.’ There were some rumblings though: two letters were received suggesting that it was time for a change of Producer…

Iolanthe made a profit of £197 13s 8d (£197.69) and £210 was shared between the British Empire Leprosy Relief Fund, the British Empire Cancer Campaign, the NSPCC, the Newspaper Press Fund, Barlow and Ellyett Homes, the British Red Cross Society, the RSPCA, the International Youth Rally, the Mission to Seamen and the Little Theatre Fund (an attempt by the amateur groups to establish its own theatre).

Terry O'Farrell

Photo of Phyllis

Ronald Hoskins (Strephon) with Joy Robinson (Phyllis)

 LB books dog

Hopefully coming to you in early 2021!