BWW Reviews: Lamplighters' IOLANTHE Flies in with the Best
I grew up on "The Mikado," and in the past year or two I've begun to slowly educate myself on Gilbert and Sullivan via Lamplighters Music Theatre, which does one or two full staged Gilbert and Sullivan operettas each year. For the first time, Saturday night, the company treated me to what seemed a flawless cast. Sadly, at least half the leads of the August 10 performance of "Iolanthe" will not likely be included on Lamplighters' CD project for the production - the company double casts the leads for most of its shows. One never knows what kind of treat is in store when the individual cast members alternate on different schedules (For a full cast list with scheduled performance dates, see www.lamplighters.org.). As for Saturday night's showing, the perfect staging combined with a nonsensical story made for a close second in my growing list of favorite operettas. After all, doesn't everyone wish their disagreeing political leaders would turn into fairies and fly away?
The Fairy Queen and her subjects welcome Iolanthe back from 25 years of banishment, Iolanthe's punishment for marrying a mortal. The frolicking, enamored creatures that they are, they endeavor to help Iolanthe's half-fairy (from the waist up), half-mortal (from the waist down) son, Strephon, in his desire to marry Phyllis, the beautiful ward of England's high Chancellor. Of course, Parliament's entire House of Peers and the Chancellor, himself, all desire to marry Phyllis, and when they jump at the chance to make Strephon look unfaithful, the fairies take revenge.
In regular Gilbert and Sullivan fashion, it's a rather silly tale that makes fun of class distinctions and that had its audience laughing non-stop. Much credit there goes to F. Lawrence Ewing's hilarious "chorus-line" choreography for the Peers. Ewing's amusing turn at the role of the Chancellor also contributed much to the perfection of the night, followed by stellar vocal performances from Alexandra Sessler(Phyllis), Molly Mahone (Iolanthe), Cary Ann Rosko (Fairy Queen) and Samuel Rabinowitz (Strephon). Adding more humor to the production, John Brown and Robby Stafford gave enjoyable performances as Tolloller and Mountararat, two of the Peers seeking Phyllis' hand, and Sean Irwin left a strong impression after his fun act two-opening solo. The private standing guard outside Parliament, he comments that all young boys and girls are born either little conservatives or little liberals. More uproarious moments ensue, for which costume designers John Gilkerson, Christina Weiland, William S. Jones and Melissa Wortman deserve great applause.
The cast, of course, also deserves much applause, and received enough for several encore bows Saturday night. Here we have the best of Gilbert and Sullivan and the best of Lamplighters Music Theatre combined for our instant and gratifying pleasure.
Through August 24