Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 2, No. 8. May 31, 1939
Gilbert and Soda
Gilbert and Soda.
The principals (except Kenny Baker) were excellent, and Koko's Gilbertian foolery was a Joy to behold. Though we missed seven good songs and heard half only of six others, the best were there, all beautifully sung in the traditional Savoy manner (except "The Flowers That Bloom in The Spring," in which Sullivan was incontinently murdered). The subtle dialogue was shortened only, and not "adapted," and it was interesting to watch how much of it was far above the intellectual capacity of the audience, which appreciated Koko but was a little doubtful about Pooh-Bah.
The London Symphony Orchestra, the D'Oyly Carte chorus, lavish and not too realistic settings, a pretty Yum-Yum, and a magnificent Katisha (whose left shoulder-blade wasn't mentioned), enhanced the illusion that we were really seeing a Gilbert and Sullivan opera.
But why Kenny Baker? If he could learn to sing the songs and speak the lines, he might in time become an acceptable G. and S. artist. Was it to make the film "sell" to the Great American Public? Or because he's got Japanesey eyes?
Thank God. anyway, that Hollywood didn't produce the show. Otherwise we might have seen Stan laurel as Koko. Oliver Hardy as Pooh-Bah, Joe. E. Brown us Pish-Tush, and Clark Gable as Nanki-Poo.
Unless, of course, the Marx Brothers and Bing Crosby were available....