Projections - Movie Reviews

Topsy-Turvy Topsy-Turvy

Director, Mike Leigh brings us into the nineteenth century where we find operetta maestros William Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan at mid career caught in doldrums.  The mediocre reception of Princess Ida belies Sullivan's conic ailments and his mid-life crisis.  During this period we follow the popular duo struggling  through the crisis which leads to the production of The Mikado one of their most popular works.

During the production numbers from The Sorcerer the film drags, but after the dull spots everything else is delightful to watch.

The development of the new operetta results from an impasse in which Sullivan will not write music for Gilbert's new plot and Gilbert will not produce a new story. The Mikado folds into Gilbert's mind at an exhibition of Japanese culture which his wife forces him to attend.  His story is wonderful and the last third of the film depicts the development of staging, music production and character development for The Mikado.  Gilbert's rehearsing the three performers who sing "Three Little Girls from School" places us in the rhythm of the process with all the pressures, disillusions and creativeness that make it work.  The premier at the Savoy Theater is a triumph for everyone.

The two men are portrayed as having distinctly separate personalities: Gilbert stiff and dedicated to his work, Sullivan relaxed, more philosophical and willing to spend time away from work enjoying the pleasures of the ladies on the continent.

Topsy-Turvy forces us to tap our feet and feel the joy of a grand operetta which remains popular today.


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