“Welcome to our hearts again, Iolanthe! Iolanthe!
We have shared thy bitter pain, Iolanthe! Iolanthe!
Every heart and every hand in our loving little band,
Welcomes thee to Fairyland, Iolanthe!”
Iolanthe or The Peer and the Peri
February 26 to March 20, 2016
Iolanthe was the winner of the 2016 BroadwayWorld Minneapolis Awards for Best Director of a Musical and the Best Ensemble Performance in a Musical!
|Stage Director:||Joe Andrews|
|Music Director:||Dr. Randal A. Buikema|
Iolanthe opened in London and New York on November 25, 1882, marking the first time any show had a simultaneous premier on two different continents—a feat that remains unique. It was the seventh collaboration of Gilbert and Sullivan and directly followed a string of three huge successes for the duo: HMS Pinafore, Pirates of Penzance, and Patience. London’s Savoy Theatre was still relatively new and had just converted from gas lights to full electricity. Iolanthe was the first show to take full advantage of this new technology and the twinkling electric wands for the fairies were the talk of the town!
Sullivan did not write most of his overtures. He would usually turn this task over to a trusted associate, having them weave his melodies into a 4-5 minute introduction to the opera. Iolanthe’s gorgeous overture, however, is an anomaly and was written by the master himself. It stands as my favorite and surely one of the finest overtures of all their 14 collaborations.
I performed in the GSVLOC’s 1992 production of Iolanthe as Lord Tolloller. It remains, to my mind, one of the most beautiful productions of the company. This was due in no small part to the director, Lesley Hendrickson, who was new in town at the time. There are several homages (“that word is French!”) to Lesley in this production. I owe her a debt of gratitude for graciously allowing me to dip into her immense well of creativity.
This is the first production I have directed for the GSVLOC that doesn’t involve a “concept” (2007’s Mikado) or a major rewrite (2014’s The Grand Duke). We’ve moved the time frame up from the 1880s to the 1910s to take advantage of the more beautiful styles of the Edwardian era (Downton Abbey, anyone?), and we’ve modified a line here and there to clarify Gilbert’s intent or to touch—ever so lightly—on something regionally specific or au courant. But I promise, we’ve been very careful to honor the spirit of the text and not stray too far.
This company is a unique institution in the Twin Cities that offers beautifully rendered annual productions of the great operettas of W.S. Gilbert & Sir Arthur Sullivan. We do this largely through volunteers—or quasi-volunteers (“a Latin word!”)—who love these shows and want to ensure that our region has access to the full repertoire of G&S classics. Your attendance today helps us fulfill our mission, and any contributions you can make will help to ensure that we will be able to do this well into the future. Please consider giving a gift to the company if you believe that ebullient, family-friendly productions (with full orchestra—so rare these days!) such as the one you’re about to see should be a part of our community in the years to come. I hope you enjoy our production of Iolanthe!
Scott Benson as the Lord Chancellor,
Sarah Wind Richens as Phyllis and
Eric Sargent as Strephon
Two excellent internet resources for information about Iolanthe:
Poster design by Tom McGregor and Mary Olson, Artwork by
John Atkinson Grimshaw,
courtesy of Bridgeman Images
“Soon as we may, off and away!
We’ll commence our journey airy.
Happy are we.
As you can see, everyone is now a fairy!”