Original New Zealand Cast
Thursday, April 19th, 1906

King Paramount the First

Mr. Howard Vernon


Mr. Arthur Crane


Mr. H. H. Wallace


Mr. Ernest Fitts


Mr. J. C. Whitfield

Lord Dramaleigh

Mr. Walter Whyte

Captain Fitzbattleaxe

Mr. Charles Kenningham

The Princess Zara

Miss Olive Godwin

The Princess Nekaya

Miss Aggie Thorn

The Princess Kalyba

Miss Vinia de Loitte

The Lady Sophy

Miss Celia Ghiloni


"Utopia Limited" is an unlimited cornucopia of satire set to music. It is claimed that this opera represents Gilbert at his best, with Sullivan following suit, and therefore the people of Wellington were curious to teat the accuracy of reports from foreign parts. They rallied in strength at the Opera House last night to weigh the Williamson Company and its piece in the scales, and found that both tipped the beam of expectation, though this was high enough. The artists were recalled again and again; the demand for duplication of titbits lengthened buy nearly an hour the course which the menu was appointed to run. Indeed, the opera is such a feast of colour and melody, such an orderly tangle of witty words spoken and sung, such a quintessence of widely-ranging satire, such an ella-podrida of quaint and subtle notions, that a critic, solemnly undertaking to analyse the compound, is bewildered; his knowledge of human chemistry is sorely tried.

"Utopia" is unlimited when the languorous action begins. The rise of the curtain discloses a glimpse of the island of Utopia - a land something like the Premier's conception of a South Sea Island of Love - with beauty of colour and form softly blended, and "all sweet sounds of earth and air" in harmony. Maidens, more rare and and radiant than even Poe's Lenore, "lie and dream of nothingness," luxuriously fanning themselves with palm branches snatched from a lovely grove. The sea breaks on a golden strand near them, and they sing of their primitive delights.

(There follows a lengthy (verbally inflated) description of the opera.)

The librettist's theme is a gentle gibing at ultra-Anglicism. He has reviewed the whole nation, and spares nothing in which common-sense has been lost in the garb of artificiality. The national anthem is not pricked by his pen, but it does not escape the pencil of his collaborator, Sullivan. The music is sometimes soft and subtle, it is weird, it is mocking, it is a harmonious babble, it is patter, it is tender, and in all these moods it was rightly interpreted by the orchestra.

A strong company, with luxuriant scenery and dressing which is as rich as it is varied, gives the opera all the opportunity that it needed to succeed; and it did succeed.

As King Paramount, Mr. Howard Vernon is as funny as he ever was. His vocalisation might have been improved, but any shortcoming in his singing was more than amended by his action of body and face, and his speaking, which raised emphatic peals of laughter.

Miss Olive Godwin, as the Princess Zara, and Miss Celia Ghiloni (Lady Sophie, the English gouvernante), were the bright stars in the constellation of femininity.

The king's younger daughters, the Princess Nekaya and Kalyba, impersonated by Miss Aggie Thorn and Miss Vinia de Loitte, in voice and manner. mixed their natural bent in very amusing proportions, making a pretty background for many a situation.

The roles of the judges of the Utopian Supreme Court, Scapio and Phantis, were borne by Messrs Arthur Crane and H.H. Wallace, and the writer liked these artists' performance, vocal and actional, better than anything else.

Mr. Charles Kenningham, as Captain of the Life guards, and Mr. Frank Wilson, as Mr. Goldbury, the company promoter, and also sufficient work. which they did well enough to make themselves popular. Mr. Ernest Fitts might have more vividly brought out more of the humour of the role of the role of Public Exploder, but he nevertheless went through the part meritoriously. The principals, in all manner of music, solo and concerted, and with dancing semi-serious and eccentric, and good assistance from artists in minor parts to bring the great opera's very agreeable career to a close.

"Utopia Limited" will again be presented to-night.

Wellington Evening Post. Friday April 20th, 1906.


A curious case of alleged pocket-picking was investigated by Dr. McArthur,S.M., at the Magistrate's Court this morning, when George Robertson was charged with the theft of a purse, the property of some person unknown. Wallace A. Kimpton, tram guard, stated that on Wednesday of last week the car was boarded by about a dozen young people in Courtney Place. Accused got in just behind an elderly woman, and as she stepped up, witness saw him put his hand in her pocket and take out a purse, which he put into his own coat pocket. Witness told accused he would have to return the purse, and accused took it out of his pocket and handed it back to the woman, who pushed him off the car. Accused subsequently told witness that the woman was his mother. On another charge against the accused of attempted theft evidence was given that as a tram came to a stop in Cuba street on the same day, there was a large crown of passengers waiting to board it, and accused was seen by the conductor to reach his hand towards a lady's satchel. The lady said, "He tried to take my hand-bag," and accused shortly afterwards walked away at a good brisk pace. Accused for whom Mr. Toogood appeared, was committed for trial. Bail was fixed at two sureties of £50 each.


"On solid hour of America and one solid hour of fun" are the headlines which herald the coming pictorial show entitled Edison's Popular Pictures. The complete outfit comes direct from America to New Zealand, and Mr. T.A. Edison'd latest discoveries, which are said to have revolutioned the modern picture show, will enhance the display from an audiences's standpoint. In addition to a most comprehensive collection of scenes and incidents in New York and other cities of the United States, there is, we are told, a large series of pictures of general interest. For instance "Raffles, the amateur cracksman," based on the great E.W. Horning, is a most sensational series, in eighteen scenes. A series of films showing the main points of California, that beautiful spot which has been brought to the attention of the world through the terrible calamity that has befallen it so recently, will be included.

Wellington Evening Post. Friday April 20th 1906.


The news of the death of Mr Robert Brough and Mr Tom Fitzgerald has been received in Dunedin with genuine expressions of regret. Both gentlemen were very popular throughout Australasia.
It is announced by cable that Miss Nellie Stewart and the members of Musgrove's Opera Company, who were recently playing in San Francisco, have escaped the disaster. Also that the members of Pollard's Opera Company are safe.
The funeral of the late Mr Robert Brough, the well-known actor and manager, which took place in Sydney on Sunday, was largely attended.
The Conreid Opera Company is reported to have lost all its scenery and personal effects in the disaster at San Francisco. This company was playing grand opera in the Opera House. On the eve of the earthquake the company staged "Lohengrin".
Considerable anxiety is expressed for the safety of Mr Fred Riverhall, the well-known comedian, who recently left for San francisco. It is hoped that he has escaped the disaster. Mr Fred Shipman, who toured these parts with Miss Jessie McLachlan, was in 'Frisco at the time of the earthquake. He was to have sailed by the sonoma for New Zealand. Another well-known theatrical representative in the person of Mr Harold Ashton was also in San Francisco. He, too, was to have left by the Sonoma.
The comedy company headed by Mr William Collier, which Mr Harold Ashton has arranged to visit Australia under engagement to Mr J.C. Williamson, has escaped the disaster at San Francisco.
A Wellington telegram states that "Veronique" was produced by teh Williamson's Comic Opera Company on Monday evening with sensational success before a crowded audience, which insisted upon encoring every item. The season has so far eclipsed the former visit. The company is certainly a very fine one.

Otago Witness. Tuesday, April 24th, 1906.

Back to the main review listings Return to 'Down under in the 19th Century'