by Amber Clontz
Iolanthe is the age-old story of a government preventing fairies from marrying, voting that a half fairy, Strephon, could not be with the mortal, Phyllis. Not for reasons of fairyhood exactly, but because the half-dozen members of British Parliament desired the beautiful Phyllis.
Though the themes are oh-so current, this play is surprisingly old—it was written by W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan and first performed in 1882. Christopher Raynes, the stage director for Boise State's recent performance of Iolanthe, had searched for the perfect Lord Chancellor since he was 8 years old.
When Lord Chancellor, Alaggio Laurino, took the stage on Feb. 24, it was clear Raynes' half-century wait was not in vain. Laurino was an absolute knock out. He brought more to the role of the susceptible Chancellor than just hamming up an already humorous script. He made the part riotous, nimbly enunciating long-forgotten diction.
Just as it takes more than a wig to make a Chancellor, it takes more than a wand to craft a fairy queen. Played by Krista Nielson, Iolanthe’s banisher and pardoner—and her brood of a fairy chorus—were the play’s breath of grace and beauty. Nielson introduced the audience to Fairyland, where she is always flanked by two exceptional lead fairies, Leila (Tess Gregg) and Fleta (Emily O’Connor). The three worked like mother and daughters, flitting about fixing and bewitching mortal emotions.
As for the pair of lovers, the dashing Strephon (Corey Rambough), busied himself throughout the play alternating between grinning and pouting, while the dainty Phyllis (Shelby Boice) melted the hearts of Parliament and her voice captured the audience's.
The 23-piece orchestra, directed by Craig Purdy, seamlessly transported listeners from the English forest to London proper. Iolanthe’s musical scores alone would thrill a ticket buyer, but when accompanied by group choreography by Marla Hansen, the show became unforgettable.