Reprinted from yesterday's late editions
Congress returned from Easter recess Monday and, by happenstance, pure of impure, the Kennedy Center, which strives to keep on its good side, was merrily legislature-baiting. "Iolanthe," in which Gilbert and Sullivan mock the Mother of Parliaments, was the opening bill of Britain's D'Oyly Carte Company for an unprecedented month at the Opera House.
With the wit of Gilbert and the sparkle of Sullivan, this is the one about the Queen of the Fairies whom the Lord Chancellor, Britain's chief justice, instructs on how to twist the law to the advantage of her constitutency.
Bruno Santini's new design for the original company's 96th year with "Iolanthe" is predominantly black and silver, and while the lighting might be brighter, it is a pleasing spectacle and serves the famed Entrance of the Peers in their multi-colored velvet robes dashingly.
Martin Feinstein, the Center's executive director, has been involved with importing the D'Oyly Carte group for 30 years and, judging by the age range and size of the audience, he has not lost his touch. For the month there is more than $500,000 in advance ticker sales and it's cheerful to find that "Iolanthe" will have eight performances and "Princess Ida," rarely done, will have three. "The Mikado," "The Pirates of Penzance" and "H. M. S. Pinafore" will dominate.
Though D'Oyly Carte boasts of having no stars, John Reed has now earned that rank. A superlative and happily restrained comedian, his Lord Chancellor is a gem of characterization. John Ayldon, as Mountararat, and Kenneth Sandford, as Pvt. Willis, are other leaders in the impeccable diction department, and one trusts the chorus, not always crystal-clear, will note their skills. "Iolanthe" repeats through Thursday.