1987: The Merry Widow

 

In Act 1  of 'The Merry Widow' we find ourselves in the ballroom of the Pontivedrian Embassy. The Ambassador, Baron Zeta, has a problem - he must find a way to save his country from bankruptcy. One solution is to prevent the rich and beautiful heiress Hanna Glavari from marrying a foreigner. He decides that Count Danilo, an embassy attaché would be the ideal bridegroom, and the purpose of the party we are witnessing is to bring the two together. But all is not going to plan. Danilo, irresponsible and light-hearted, has not yet arrived at the party and can be found nowhere. Immersed in matchmaking, Baron Zeta has failed to observe that his wife Valencienne is engaged in a passionate flirtation with a French officer Camille, the Count de Rosillon.

At last Anna arrives escorted by a crowd of hopeful suitors and the party adjourns for supper. Meanwhile Danilo arrives. He has been traced to his favourite resort "Chez Maxims". Exhausted by the round of party going, he falls asleep in the deserted ballroom. Valencienne and Camille return perturbed. Valencienne has forbidden Camille to declare his love, so he has written the words, "I Love You" on her fan and now the fan cannot be found anywhere. Anna reappears and Danilo awakens to greet her. They discover that they are old acquaintances, parted long since by Danilo's rich uncle. Anna reminds Danilo of their past affair but he declares that he will never marry her now because of her fortune. Further complications arise over the lost fan. Anna chooses Danilo for her partner in "Ladies,' Choice" and as she does so realises that her attraction for him is still alive in her heart.

Act 2 opens on the scene of yet another party, this time in the garden of Anna's house. All the Pontivedrians are in national dress and Anna obliges with a national folksong, the famous "VILIA" which is of course one of Lehár's greatest successes Baron Zeta confides to Danilo the story of the fan. Danilo immediately recognises the writing as that of Camille, and is all agog as to whom the lady can be. Anna is still annoyed at Danilo for continuing to avoid her. She is now completely in love with him as he is with her. It is only her millions and his pride that keep them apart. Danilo continues his unsuccessful search for the owner of the fan. The In now comes into Anna's possession and she is convinced that the inscription on it is Danilo's declaration to her. Meanwhile Valencienne and Camille appear and the pair retire to the summer house. Now horrors! Baron Zeta has called a meeting of his staff at the very summerhouse. He find the door locked and through the keyhole he believes he sees his wife and Camille. Furiously he tries to break down the door, but Valencienne escapes by another way and Anna takes her place. Camille comes out of the summerhouse and announces, his engagement to Anna! Anna is delighted at Danilo's reaction to the announcement, he is furiously jealous and she interprets this as a sign of true love.

In Act 3, we find ourselves again in the garden of Anna's house. This time it is decorated as "Chez Maxim's". Danilo is delighted to learn from Anna the truth of the summer house episode but he still cannot declare himself. Only when she tells him that by the terms of her late husband's will does she lose her millions upon remarriage, should he propose. She accepts, gladly and then tells him that the millions go to whoever becomes her new husband.

Often called 'The Queen of Operettas', with music by Franz Lehár, this is certainly the most celebrated and successful show of its kind. The melodies and songs - "Vilja", "The Merry Widow Waltz", "You'll Find Me At Maxim's" to name but a few - are lovingly played and sung the whole world over.

 


 

Our 1987 cast is:

 

Baron Zeta - John Danskin

Mjegus - Jim Morrison

St. Brioche - Thom Riddell

Cascada - Bobby Harvey

Kromov - David Wylie

Olga - Mary Douglas

Valencienne - Julie Reid

Camille - Terry McNamee

Bogdanovitsch - David Reid

Praskovia - Alison Connell

Anna - Nan McDonald

Damilo - Alan Mees

Sylvia - Isabella Young

 

Director...Douglas Snedden

Musical Director...Eddie MacLennan

Choreographer...Irene Langlands