Original Australian Cast
Saturday, January 20th, 1906.
Initial run: 18 performances

King Paramount the First

Mr. Howard Vernon

Scaphio

Mr. Arthur Crane

Phantis

Mr. H. H. Wallace

Tarara

Mr. Ernest Fitts

Calynx

Mr. J. C. Whitfield

Lord Dramaleigh

Mr. Walter Whyte

Captain Fitzbattleaxe

Mr. Charles Kenningham

The Princess Zara

Miss Dolly Castles

The Princess Nekaya

Miss Aggie Thorn

The Princess Kalyba

Miss Vinia de Loitte

The Lady Sophy

Miss Celia Ghiloni

REVIEW OF AUSTRALIAN PREMIERE OF 'UTOPIA LTD'

"Take a King who writes racy paragraphs against his own moral character, in a spicy journal called the "Palace Peeper", who has to buy up the whole edition himself lest haply his enormities should become known; take a kingdom, registered under the Limited Liabilities Act of 1862, wherein every infant weaned has issued his little prospectus as a public company; take a race of islanders, who, having slavishly copied English manners and customs, find themselves deduced to despair, if not ruin - the gaols are empty, the doctors are starving, there is no litigation - and who, after solemnly deciding that since, imitating happy and prosperous England, where gaols are in constant use, and where legal or medical gentlemen can still contrive to earn their daily bread (with etceteras), they must have left out something, to wit, government by party, and who therefore conclude to introduce this happy and priceless boon (?) at the earliest convenient opportunity; take all these ingredients, and, above all, put Mr. W.S. Gilbert in charge as chief compounder, and we shall indeed have a dainty dish, fit to set before a King. Edward Seventh was unavoidably absent on Saturday night, but his representative, the Governor-general, came in his stead, and if his Excellency's tastes were like those of the very large audience present, he must have enjoyed himself hugely.

Were we to attempt to give all the quaint and whimsical specimens of Gilbertian humor with which the "book" abounds there would be no knowing when to stop. Some few of those which have not been already touched on will be alluded to when we come to discuss the performers in detail; for the rest we can only advise our readers to go and judge for themselves whether the author has ever excelled, or even equaled some of the humorous touches that mark this last of the Gilbert-Sullivan series. Surely nothing more comical than the Cabinet Council, modelled on the lines not so much of the court of St. James as that of St. James's Hall, with Sir bailey Barre, Q.C., M.P., and Mr. Blushington, of the London County Council, as corner-men, and the King of Utopia as interlocutor; and with the rest of the Ministers thrumming away gaily on banjo and guitar, the powers of travesty have just about reached their limit. The whole idea is screamingly funny, and it was admirably carried out.

The musical setting is in every way fit and worthy of the theme.. There is perhaps less of the quieter, and more melodious, side of Sir Arthur Sullivan's muse than in some of the other operas; though the opening chorus, the duets between Zara and her lover, the graceful music of the presentation scene, and one, if not both, of Lady Sophie's songs, may claim high place for their music alone, as may also the pretty, unaccompanied chorus, Eagle High, on Cloudland Soaring; while the Captain's song, a Tenor Can't do Himself Justice, is a fine instance of charming music put to the most humorous of uses.

(There follows a lengthy description of the musical numbers with no further mention of the plot)

Celia Ghiloni, as the English Gouvernante, (is) invariably good; on this occasion she was, if possible, better than usual. Certainly she has done nothing more telling than the waltz song, Bold-faced Ranger, in which every word produced its due effect; and in this she received abundance of welcome assistance from the pantomime action of the "two well-behaved young ladies" whose praises she was acclaiming. Of these two parts it would be hard to conceive any more attractive representatives than Miss Aggie Thorn and Miss Vinia de Lotte. Quiet and demure to a fault, yet always bubbling over with suppressed fun, their duet, Although of Native Maids the Cream, proved simply irresistible, and this, so far from being a flash in the pan, was but the introduction to a series of brilliant successes.

We have coupled the names of these two clever young ladies for the simple reason that their parts are of equal importance, and really there was not a pin to choose between them. For the same reason we shall couple those of Messes. Arthur Crane and H.H.Wallace, who respectively played Scaphio and Phantis. Excellent alike in perception of humor and in skill of dancing, sufficiently gifted as singers to deliver the music that fell to their share with full effect, they made themselves instant favorites, and kept their position throughout the evening.

Mr Charles Kenningham has done nothing better here than his Captain Fitzbattleaxe - this sonorous character he created at the original production of the opera in London. He was in capital voice, and had abundant chances to show it; while in the song where (owing to be "really" in love and not merely acting) he could not "do himself justice", he fairly brought down the house.

Mr. Frank Wilson's [Mr Goldbury] crisp incisive utterance allowed no word of his pointed songs to miss fire. He was without a doubt one of the elements of the evening's success; while the small part of Captain Corcoran brought Mr. Howard Hall into momentary prominence owing to the pointed allusion to the days when the gallant commander trod the deck of H.M.S. Pinafore -the brief strain from that favorite opera being tumultuously greeted.

Mr. Howard Vernon as King Paramount, had to sing music that was often too low for him. Had he been contented with "talking" his songs in such cases, he would have done far better service, since the words are more important than the tune to which they are wedded. But Mr. Vernon used to be a singer and chose the other alternative, whereby the audience often came near missing the point. Even apart from this, we cannot truthfully say that King Paramount is a character that will enhance Mr. Vernon's reputation. The minor roles, which were capably filled, need no special mention.

The scenery is really fine, the first act being almost a dream of loveliness, the tasteful and artistic coloring calling for special comment. In the second act is the famous presentation scene, where the debutantes' gorgeous dresses and trains are in agreeable evidence to persons who take more interest in the trappings than in the play. the stage management is beyond reproof, and too much praise cannot be bestowed on Mr. Bracy for his important share in the production. There has been a recent change in the conductorship, and Mr. George Hall did remarkably good service in that position, especially as he labored under the disadvantage of being called upon rather late in the day. With better opportunities, he may be looked to for even better results.

The opera will be repeated till further notice.

Melbourne Age. Monday January 22nd, 1906.

NEWS OF THE DAY:
THE PACIFIC CABLE

At last it would appear as though the Pacific cable were approaching the region of fact, and passing out of that of unreality. It is announced that a tender has been accepted for its construction at £1,975,000, and that the Agent-General of this colony has been instructed to sign the acceptance on our behalf. We hesitate to say how many years this enterprise has been under discussion. Postal conference has discussed and recommended it ad nauseam. In 1894 it seemed as though we were on the eve of its accomplishment, for the conference at Ottawa was cordial, and the Pacific Cable Board seemed to place the realisation of the project beyond doubt. It is six years since then, and we are only now preparing to accept a tender.

SUNDAY SHOPPING

The Premier went to the root of the matter when he informed yesterday's deputation that any attempt to enforce the law relating to the closing of shops on Sunday must be made "reasonably and firmly." Spasmodic action does no good. On the contrary, it encourages a regrettable feeling that injustice is being done. No such feeling could be excited if the existing law were firmly applied in every case. Then the people would understand the position exactly, and they would know the right steps to take for the amendment of the law, if that were desired. But, naturally enough, vendors of light refreshments who see their fellows allowed to keep their shops open on Sundays whilst they themselves are punished for opening are inclined to regard the law as unfair in its operation at all events.

Sydney Morning Herald. Thursday November 29th 1900.

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