Author: Emily Siegel
Every Monday morning, the Alumni Relations staff gathers for a quick meeting to brief everyone on the comings and goings of the upcoming week. It’s a great time to get everyone on the same page, but truth be told, my favorite part of our pow-wow is when we all just begin to gather. It’s fun to catch up and hear what everyone has been up to. And let me tell you, the diversity of interests and talents in our small office continues to amaze me. From a salsa dancer, to a jazz musician, to a bass fisher, to a marathon runner – it’s quite a talented group! It sure makes a girl feel like she should get out there and try something too. So, last winter, inspired by my co-workers, I joined The Savoy Company, the oldest amateur theater company in the world dedicated solely to performing Gilbert & Sullivan productions.
Since the theater has been a staple in Philly since 1901, I shouldn’t have been surprised to learn how many Penn connections were in the group. Several members are Penn alumni, and there are least three Penn staff members in our current production. Our very own VP of Alumni Relations, Hoopes Wampler, even has a connection to Savoy – his dad and sister are past performers!
Each spring, Savoy performs one of Gilbert and Sullivan’s 13 musicals. This spring, we are performing Iolanthe, or the Peer and the Peri, the seventh of their collaborations. Advertised as “An Entirely Original Fairy Opera,” Iolanthe recounts the conflict between the immortal fairies and the mortal peers. Centered around the hero and heroine: Strephon, a half-mortal whose mother is Iolanthe of the Fairy Court, and Phyllis, a ward of the Lord Chancellor of the English Court, who is unaware of Strephon’s fairy heritage, the opera lampoons both the English House of Lords and the idea of political parties in a bouncy and amiable manner that it is all received in good fun.
Having given an award-winning performance as “littlest girl” in last year’s production of Ruddigore (okay, maybe not award- winning), I was cast this year as a member of the fairy chorus, entitling me to a wand that lights up, sparkly silver shoes, and a lime green wig! The staff of Penn Alumni Relations is always quite supportive of each other and our various interests, and true to form, a whole crew came out to see the show on opening night. They even stuck around to see me in my costume:
After a great run at the Academy of Music, we’ve moved our set out to Longwood Gardens and are now preparing for our final weekend of performances. It’s making for some long days and nights, but it’s all well worth it. Now that the show is wrapping up, I’m excited to have time to support my Alumni Relations colleagues in their interests too…and who knows, maybe soon you’ll hear from our salsa dancer, jazz musician, bass fisher, or marathon runner!
P.S. If you’re interested in seeing the show, there are still a few seats left for our June 10& 11 performances at Longwood Gardens. You can buy tickets at www.savoy.org.