All the elements which provide the unique experience of theatre in the open air combined to produce an outstanding evening for a huge and appreciative bumper Lytham audience of more than 700.
The Illyria company’s inventive performance, directed by Oliver Gray, of Gilbert and Sullivan’s most well-loved comic opera was first-class.
The weather was simply glorious and the natural amphitheatre provided by the Hall’s majestic parkland created an intimate setting as well as sympathetic acoustics.
The seven cast members, ably accompanied by Ben Wiles’ keyboards, each contributed individually, with Edward Simpson giving a masterclass both in comic dialogue and his rendition of Tit Willow. Illyria newcomers Matthew James Willis and Neil Canfer were a sparky Nanki Poo and a suitably bureaucratic Pooh Bah – two excellent voices here – while Jenni Lea Jones carried off the title role with a knowing aplomb.
Emily Juler was a dramatic Katisha from the Dame Edna stable, Anna Brook-Mitchell sang superbly, particularly in The Sun Whose Rays, and Ella Moody’s punky Pitti Sing from EastEnders was an inspired idea.
A huge Japanese Torii Gate and the lavishly flowery costumes created a fine oriental illusion, but Gilbert’s waspish words on the corruption of the government ministers had a very modern ring.
The neatly inserted references to mobile phones and Virgin Trains added much to the comedy and the whole show was an object lesson in how to present traditional theatre in the open air in 2013. Lytham loved it.