By W.S Gilbert & A. Sullivan

At the beginning of 2006 we were asked by The Midsummer Festival of Music and Theatre if we would like to produce the musical that year at Duffryn Gardens in the Vale of Glamorgan. The Festival had started up in 2004 with a pilot year of a play and a children's show but 2006 was to be the second festival and one where they wanted to revive the tradition of a fuller programme of celebrity nights as well as a Shakespeare play and the children's show, and of course, no festival would be complete without a full scale musical. But what show would we do? Well, there was only one show that immediately sprung to mind that would do justice to  the beautiful setting. A show that would lend itself in its entirety to the splendid surroundings of Duffryn Gardens: Iolanthe.

We set about reviving our production which we had done before 2001. Broadly speaking the idea was the same, a bunch of unruly, bright, modern fairies led by the indomitable Fairy Queen. The Lords, again minus their traditional robes of ermine, would join the fray not in boaters and blazers this time, but jodhpurs and riding crops at the ready, fresh from the hunt. There was a giggle each night when the fairies first appeared and followed by a gasp and giggle when the Lords appeared later. It looked wonderful thanks to a concerted effort of the wardrobe team.

What was also nice about this production is that yet again we were able to attract some new talent to the team. Strephon was played by the extremely able Ralph Thomas, a leading light of many past productions of open air theatre in South Wales and of the wonderful Spotlight Theatre group in Treorchy. Sion Owens joined us from his studies at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and the chorus was bolstered by several new members some with a lot of past experience, some with only a little, but all melded into the Concept way of doing things remarkably well. It was also great to welcome back Clare, newly married, playing a fab Leila - that whip was very scary!

There were many highlights of the show which was down, once again to the impeccable nature of Jan's direction (ably directing said the South Wales Echo!) The fairy bubbles, Lorna's wigs, the Queen's make-up, Laurence's first sighting of the fairies, the hilarious turn of the bartender Willis (ex-Grenadier Guardsman) played partially clothed and with a rather dodgy hosepipe by Steve Davies, the prat-falling of Sion, the dopiness of Ellie's Celia and the scene stealing of Nanny a.k.a. Bernard (get it?) played by the wonderful Helen to mention only a few of the fantastic characters that were on the stage. Remember, Concept does not do chorus - this production again proved that!

We were very lucky that  we only had one very light shower of drizzle and that was in the middle of the Act 2 Finale on the Thursday evening's performance which only added to the atmosphere. The audiences were very appreciative, the feedback was good, see the Western Mail review for confirmation of that, and it was nice to see so many bums on seats!



The Fairies

This was our first venture into open air theatre and we were blessed by each night being dry!


"This well balanced company were a joy to watch and hear, radiating energy and enthusiasm in Janet Holloway's imaginative and precise production which so well used the elegant open-air venue"