Plymouth.N.H.–Plymouth State University students in the Department of Music, Theatre, and Dance will perform Gilbert and Sullivan’s rollicking operetta, Iolanthe, April 2-5 at the Silver Center for the Arts.
Gilbert had taken potshots at the aristocracy before, but in this “fairy opera,” the House of Lords is lampooned as a bastion of the ineffective, privileged and dim-witted. The political party system and other institutions also come in for a dose of satire. Yet, both author and composer managed to couch the criticism among such bouncy, amiable absurdities that it is all received as good fun, according to Guy Walmisley.
The story begins with Phyllis, a ward of the Chancery, who is being courted by many of the peers in the British House of Lords. But Strephon, an Arcadian shepherd, also wants to marry Phyllis. Strephon, unbeknownst to Phyllis, is half fairy and in no time at all the peers and the fairies are warring, and long friendships are nearly destroyed. Eventually it’s all sorted out, with many laughs and delightful songs along the way.
Phyllis is portrayed by Emily Thorner, a junior music major from Northwood.
Jamie Willis, a sophomore Theatre Arts Major from East Wallingford, Vt., portrays Strephon.
Other cast members are Lauren Burbank, a senior theatre arts major from Bradford; Heather Jacques, a sophomore music major from Salem; Amanda Teneriello, a sophomore theatre arts major from Hudson; Jennifer Fijal, a sophomore music major from Palmer, Mass., and Katherine Lenhart, a sophomore music major from Norwich, Vt.
Also Rory Diamond, a sophomore music education major from South Hadley, mass., Gregory Tucker, a sophomore theatre arts major from Merrimack; Samuel Tolley, a sophomore music education and theatre arts major from Campton and Dan Brevik, a sophomore music major from Holliston, Mass.
Professor of Music Kathleen Arecchi directs the production, with choreographer Lisa Travis, music director Constance Chesebrough, set designer Matt Kizer and costume designer Danee Grillo.
Arecchi says Iolanthe provides challenging roles for both men and women. “Considerable humor derives from the circumstances that can ensue when a child is born half mortal and half fairy, from the contrast between Liberals and Conservatives in politics, or by poking fun at the House of Peers, whose members earn their seats by inheritance rather than by virtue of either intelligence or industry,” Arecchi said.
A great deal of the humor in Gilbert and Sullivan works relies on topical references to people, places and situations from late 19th Century England. For the PSU production, Arecchi made changes to some of those references to make the context more familiar for an American audience. “I like to think that Misters Gilbert and Sullivan would approve these changes, for the sake of bring new audiences to an understanding of their genius,” she said.
Performances for Iolanthe are April 2–4 at 8 p.m., April 4 at 2 p.m. and April 5 at 3 p.m. in the Studio Theatre.
Tickets are $14 for adults, $12 for seniors, $10 for youth and $5 for PSU students with I.D. at the Silver Center Box Office, (603) 535-ARTS or (800) 779-3869.
The Box Office is closed March 14-22. Normal hours are Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
General information about events at Plymouth State University is available at ThisWeek@PSU, http://thisweek.blogs.plymouth.edu.