POWELL, Wyo. - When Fairies dabble with the world of mortal politics, love and laughter ensue in Gilbert and Sullivan’s “Iolanthe,” staged Friday and Saturday, April 12 and 13, at Northwest College’s Nelson Performing Arts Center Auditorium. The curtain rises at 7:30 both nights.
The seventh collaboration of the Arthur Sullivan and W.S. Gilbert, “Iolanthe” is one of the duo’s most highly regarded works. Performed 398 times from 1882-84 at London’s Savoy Theater, it holds the distinction of being the first opera premiered in the historic venue.
Its long-lasting appeal is partly due to its musical and comedic components and partly because it pokes fun at aristocracy, the British House of Lords in particular. The political party system and other institutions are also the target of the play’s light-hearted satire.
The story opens when the title character, Iolanthe, played by Megan Hansen of Afton, is summoned back to the fairy world after being banished for marrying a mortal. She tells the Fairy Queen (Terrell Neale of Dubois) and the other fairies that she has a son named Strephon (Jesse Preis of Emblem) who is a fairy from head to waist, but mortal below the waist, a condition that instills much laughter later in the play.
Strephon is brought to the Fairies and soon tells his new acquaintances of his love for Lord Chancellor’s ward of court, the beautiful Phyllis (Rachel Willis of Basin). Strephon is despondent, however, because the Lord Chancellor (Michael Lechner of Freedom) forbids them to marry, partly because he wishes to marry Phyllis himself, as do half the members of the House of Lords.
The fairies, especially Celia (Kasandra Hessling of Hudson) and Leila (Jocelyn Hruska of Burlington, Vt.) vow to help the Fairy Queen’s efforts on Strephon’s behalf. Things get complicated when a mistaken assumption throws Lord Tolloller (Michael Connor of Greybull) and Lord Mountararat (Joseph Tritchler of Powell) into the race for Phyllis’ hand.
The shenanigans take the title characters and their chorus of peers and fairies to Parliament where a solution is inevitably found to the happiness of all.
“It’s a silly story, but the humor is endearing and the music delightful,” director Jan Kliewer said. “We have a strong cast of characters for this production. Audience members will enjoy the funny situations and great lines. It’s wholesome entertainment for the whole family.”
General admission to “Iolanthe” is $7; children and students pay $2.