Tonight we come to the highlight of the controversy! There have been many views posted on Savoynet about how this is an abomination and shouldn't be showing its face in the Gilbert & Sullivan Festival. The furor died down over time, but will doubtless be starting up again about now... Of course, now there'll be two sides arguing "It worked, so the decision was right" vs "It didn't work, so the decision was wrong".
The most obvious indication of how well it worked is, of course, ticket sales. Do people pay their money to see The Merry Widow in the middle of the G&S Festival? To a large extent, yes they do. This isn't the best-sold show I've attended, and certainly isn't the sell-out that I suspected it might be, but there have certainly been a good few shows that it outsold, and that's after a matinee as well. So this isn't earning that dread description "a great artistic success" - and a financial flop.
Not that it wasn't artistically successful. The music is lovely, especially if - as I do - you love a good waltz tune. The words are unfamiliar to many of us, so we really need to hear them; some of the leads were very good at spitting their consonants to the gallery, but a few had some trouble with that - I suspect perhaps the tempi may have gotten in the way of clarity at times. In any case, we got enough to follow the plot and laugh at the jokes (Anna totally trolled everyone at the end of the second act, to goodly laughter).
The orchestra pit was fairly well filled. The harp is a touch that the G&S Society of Victoria couldn't even have dreamed of when we put on Merry Widow a few years back... and it adds a definite something.
Enthusiastic performers, effective pairings, and energetic prancing about the stage. An enjoyable production.