from Arlington local theater organizationArlington Friends of the Drama, has chosen to open its centennial season with a well-known Gilbert and Sullivan comic opera – “Iolanthe”.
The show is slated to open Sept. 16 and run until Oct. 2, with performances Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m.
Tickets are $25 per seat and can be purchased on line or by calling 781-646-5922 and leaving a message.
Tickets will be made available at the door if the show is not sold out.
Masks must be worn throughout each performance.
In addition, spectators will also be required to present proof of vaccination before being admitted to the theater.
One of the first community theaters in the country
One of the oldest community theaters in the country is about to turn 100 years old, and it resides right here in Arlington. When Arlington Friends of the Drama (AFD) was founded in 1923, its first president was Mrs. Cyrus Dallin, wife of the famous Arlington sculptor.
She loved the arts and had herself written and produced Arlington’s greatest pageant. The company first performed one-act plays, using the Town Hall stage. In 1934, AFD purchased its current home at the corner of Maple and Academy streets, in the heart of what is now historic Arlington.
More information on the centenary celebration will be communicated in the coming months. However, current plans include turning the hall into a landmark exhibit of the theater’s history, open one hour before each performance. Because Arlington Friends of the Drama typically presents four shows a year, it was decided that for the 2022-2023 season they would choose one of the most successful shows of each quarter century.
Gilbert and Sullivan: an AFD tradition
Gilbert and Sullivan’s operettas were extremely popular in the early days of the theater’s founding. ‘The Mikado’, ‘Pirates of Penzance’, ‘The Gondoliers’ and ‘The Yeoman of the Guard’ are just a few of the films staged by AFD. But one of everyone’s most beloved comic operas was “Iolanthe”, which was performed three times.
Considered by many to be one of the most beautifully composed in Gilbert and Sullivan’s repertoire, “Iolanthe” is full of mischief, misunderstanding and fairies. With witty and sometimes silly lyrics, it portrays peers in the House of Lords who are all in love with the same beautiful young woman, Phyllis – but she herself is in love with an Arcadian shepherd, who happens to be half-fairy. Havoc ensues when Phyllis sees his intention to kiss her immortal fairy mother – who looks so young that Phyllis can’t believe she is her mother.
Many residents participate
Directed by J. Deschene and Arlington resident Div Slomin, who directs the music, the production was in the midst of rehearsal when a reporter visited. Costume shelves lined the hall and you could see set painters at work, or someone shaping a waterfall or a rock for the set. The cast members spend their evenings practicing Rebecca Graber’s choreography.
Set design is by Arlington resident Mark Bastoni, who designed AFD’s latest play, the comedy “Boeing, Boeing.” Among the other residents of the cast are Ken Livak, whose whole family is involved in the AFD: his wife runs the box office and his daughter was a manager for “Boeing, Boeing”. This is his first time performing on the AFD stage, and in fact, his first time on stage since his high school days. He plays one of the peers.
Another Arlingtonian plays the fairy queen. This is Carolyn Schneyer, who is well known as a former music teacher with Music Together and is now associated with ArlingtonEATS. A third actor in town is Sara DeLong. She plays Phyllis and she has a long summary of Gilbert and Sullivan credits in other productions in the area. Kate Beattie, who plays one of the fairies, is also no stranger to Gilbert and Sullivan, or the AFD scene.
On the side of the creative team, Slomin, the Music Director, is an award-winning composer and musician – and bringing his talents to the AFD stage for the first time. Ellen Baillie is here for the second time, having caught the theater bug while working behind the scenes at “Boeing, Boeing.” For this production, she is both props coordinator and assistant stage manager.
1 free show for young people, seniors
The AFD Theater is located at 22 Academy St. in Arlington, behind City Hall and across from the Arlington Community Center. It is accessible by public transportation – the 77 bus – and is wheelchair accessible via a street-level elevator on Maple Street.
AFD offers seniors and students the opportunity to attend a dress rehearsal free of charge before the opening of each production. For “Iolanthe,” it’s scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, September 15.
Middle school students may bring their parents, who will also attend for free, however, no one under middle school age will be admitted. No tickets or reservations will be required for this date alone, which has vacancies.
April 20, 2022: “Boeing, Boeing” closes AFD’s “21-22” season
This report published on Saturday, August 27, 2022 was written by Ginger Webb, Publicity Director for Arlington Friends of the Drama.