Volume 92, Issue 62

Tuesday, January 19, 1999


Thin Red misses finish line

Gilbert and Sullivan triumphs at Talbot

Gilbert and Sullivan triumphs at Talbot

By Andrew McKim
Gazette Writer

It's Gilbert and Sullivan set to the backdrop of our fair city.

There's a flock of fairies, the Fairy Queen, a man who is half fairy, his fairy mom, his girlfriend, a bunch of lords, the Lord Chancellor and Private Willis all moving to the sounds of a booming orchestra. Sounds like a fun, chaotic night out – and it is.

The story? Nice guy wants to marry nice girl and nice girl wants to marry nice guy. Older guy wants to marry nice girl too and forbids nice guy and nice girl from getting together. Fairies dance while Lords prance and the audience is swept up into the classic happily ever after tale of Iolanthe.

Currently running in Talbot Theatre, the show opens with an introduction to the Fairy Queen, played in drag by Kerry Stover. Needless to say, she/he isn't your average Fairy Queen and would give Dame Edna a run for his money. Normally, a falsetto can get tiresome and annoying, but Stover keeps it interesting and sings entertainingly in drag.

The fairies are exceptionally and enthusiastically performed. Led by Celia (Jessica Lovett), Leila (Rebecca Surman) and Fleta (Jennifer Davidson), the group gives energetic performances with strong, clear singing and a fine stage presence.

Soon the character of Iolanthe makes her appearance, after being freed by the Fairy Queen. Played by Carolyn Holdsworth, Iolanthe also has a strong presence and a crisp, clean voice. Her dominance on stage is appropriate for one of the more serious character roles in this production.

The lovers, Strephon and Phyllis, are played by Chris Wood and Erin Grzybowski – both strong and competent actors. Wood does an especially great job of being a half fairy. However, this is also where the first negative aspect of the production surfaces. Although Grzybowski has a very talented voice, she isn't always clear with her singing. She hits the notes beautifully, with great inflections, but the words often get lost.

The Lords and their peers add a humorous touch. Providing an opposite group to the fairies who fluttered about the stage, the Lords and peers are more inclined to stomp and occasionally dance with choreography reminiscent of A Chorus Line. The three Lords, acted by John Darnell, Tim Evenden and Fred Turner, are quite well done, however, a couple of the peers looked awkward on stage despite their strong vocal performances.

This brings us to the Lord Chancellor, played by Brad Campbell. Campbell is a strong singer and actor and executes well the job of breaking up Strephon and Phyllis without actually being mean and evil. Refreshingly, he's not your typical villain. The final character and the audience's obvious favorite is Private Willis, whose comical performance set the crowd into hysterics.

Despite a few flaws, such as weak music and vocal mixing for the dance club scene (yes, there is a dance club scene), Iolanthe is a great chance to frolic and enjoy a night of theatre.

Iolanthe runs until Saturday at Talbot Theatre.

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Copyright The Gazette 1999