UC Santa Cruz Arts Division presents "Iolanthe"

A satirical classic from Gilbert & Sullivan

Iolanthe may not be Gilbert & Sullivan’s best known work but according to music lecturer Sheila Willey “I actually think the music is more interesting and a little bit more sophisticated, but not less accessible,” than their other productions. The upcoming performance of the operetta at UC Santa Cruz marks the first time in five years the music department has put on a Gilbert & Sullivan show since they did Pirates of Penzance in 2019.

Originally performed in 1882, Iolanthe follows a fairy who’s been banished for marrying a mortal, who later gets entangled in the events of her mortal son’s love life. It is also a satirical criticism of the British government in the later half of the 19th century.

The show was chosen in part because of the large ensemble. Where many other operettas, which are like a cross between an opera and a musical, only have a couple of lead roles, Iolanthe has ten. With an alternating cast for each performance it gives a wide range of students an opportunity to perform.

“It really gives a lot of our students an opportunity to shine and sing by themselves with an orchestra,” says Willey. “That's a big big deal for undergraduate singers because a lot of schools use their undergraduates only as chorus members and give lead roles to graduate students.” The cast of 25 will be split between four performances.

In preparing for the show, Willey thought it was important to use authentic British accents. “I've seen some productions in the states that don't use the British pronunciation, but the humor doesn't land,” she says. To help, Willey brought in Allie Pratt, a member of Santa Cruz Shakespeare, to help the students. Apparently it's been working, because Willey describes herself as crying from laughter during rehearsals.

Along with Pratt’s assistance and Willey’s direction, Iolanthe was organized with the help of professionals both on and off campus. Music professors Bruce Kiesling and David Duning are in charge of conducting and lighting design respectively. Others include Santa Cruz and Bay Area locals Brooke Jennings, Jessica Carter, and Sharon Ridge. The three worked on costuming, hair, and makeup, and all of them have worked with UC Santa Cruz in the past productions.

Iolanthe will be a delightful chance to see emerging student artists working together with professionals in the community. “The students are so game,” says Willey. “They're so willing to explore the ridiculousness.”

More Information

Thursday May 30, Friday May 31, Saturday June 1 at 7:30 PM

Sunday May 2 at 3:00 PM

Opening Night Reception

Thursday May 30 at 7:00

Music Center Recital Hall at UC Santa Cruz

402 McHenry Road 

Santa Cruz, CA 95064

Tickets available on Eventbrite

Lot 126 is the closest parking lot to the event

Parking is by UCSC permit, Park Mobile, or pay $5 cash/credit to the on-site parking attendant in Lot 126

More visitor parking information here.

For more information about events presented by the UC Santa Cruz Arts Division, visit: arts.ucsc.edu.