WSU Opera & Musical Theatre to present 'Iolanthe'
Parody and politics combine for comic effect in Gilbert and Sullivan’s “Iolanthe,” which Wichita State’s Opera and Musical Theatre will present at 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, Nov. 6-8, and 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 9, in Miller Concert Hall, Duerksen Fine Arts Center.
Myrna Paris, a distinguished WSU alumna and noted interpreter of Gilbert and Sullivan, will guest star as the Fairy Queen in two performances, Nov. 7 and 9.
Her appearances include the New York City Opera, St. Louis Opera Theatre, Music Theatre of Wichita, Houston Grand Opera, Chicago Opera Theatre and Wichita Grand Opera.
“Iolanthe” is a “proto-Python parody of that grandest of all German romantic opera composers, Richard Wagner,” said Marie King, director of Opera and Musical Theatre.
Gilbert’s wacky plot somehow manages to bring a troupe of Valkyries into the British House of Parliament, wreaking havoc and dispensing mirth, King said. And she calls Sullivan’s lively score one of his finest, providing a “delightful pseudo-Wagnerian atmosphere” amid the inevitable patter songs and rollicking choruses.
The plot features the fairy Iolanthe who, 25 years earlier, had committed the sin of marrying a mortal, who happens to be England’s Lord High Chancellor. For her crime, she was banished from Fairyland. Unbeknownst to her erstwhile husband, the union produced a son, Strephon, who loves Phyllis, a ward of the court.
She is also the object of affection of not only the entire House of Peers, but the Lord Chancellor himself. Complication and suspicions tangle the story, untangled only by myriad legal machinations and fairy transformations.
With the exception of Paris, the cast is composed of current WSU students, with graduate students Stephanie Gilmore in the title role, Mathan Black as the Lord High Chancellor and Dru Rutledge as Phyllis.
Dixie Roberts, also working toward her master’s of music degree, alternates with Paris as the Fairy Queen. Undergraduates include Jacob January as Strephon, Aaron Short as Lord Tolloller, Nicholas Gilmore as Lord Montarrarat and Bernie Zuniga as Private Willis.
The production is designed by Rachel Prochaska, sets; Rebecca Maholland, costumes; and Tyler Lessin, lights. Mark Laycock conducts the WSU Symphony Orchestra.
“Iolanthe” is rated G.