Historic opera takes to the stage at East Meadow Methodist Church


Romance, drama and comedy, all wrapped up in one show, will hit the stage in East Meadow this weekend.

“Iolanthe,” a 140-year-old opera classic, is also known as “The Peer and the Peri.” It is an 1882 collaboration of W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan, the duo also known for “H.M.S. Pinafore” and “The Pirates of Penzance.”

The opera boasts timeless songs, clever dialogue and humorous satire. It tells the story of forbidden love between an immortal fairy and a man, their half-mortal son and his romance with a wealthy heiress named Phyllis, all of whom struggle against the queens and lords that keep them apart.

And thanks to the Gilbert and Sullivan Light Opera Company of Long Island, which is based in Hicksville, East Meadow residents can see the historic show at the East Meadow United Methodist Church on Saturday at 2 p.m.

The event is an important opportunity for the East Meadow community, the church’s pastor, Heejo Lee said, because the church hopes to widen its range of activities and offer parishioners new experiences.

“It’s not easy to have the experience of those kinds of events for our community, because they don’t come to us,” Lee said. “But this event is right in the middle of our community. So they can easily have the opportunity to enjoy this opera.”

Since Lee became the church’s pastor two years ago, he wanted to bring something to the community that would appeal to everyone.

“I want our community to know that there’s a church who likes to be with the community, and doing something with the community,” he said. “That’s one of the events that we will do. We want to live with the community, not just doing our stuff.”

Like many religious institutions, the church has faced difficulties rebuilding attendance in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, but Lee has begun to turn that around.

“After Covid, we’ve never had a good turnaround,” Charlene Pross, who works as the event coordinator at the church, said. “When this new pastor joined our church, it’s like something miraculous happened, and so now he is the amazing part of our church, and he’s the reason why we’re thriving the way we are.”

This set of “Iolanthe” performances is the first from the Gilbert and Sullivan Light Opera Company since 2015. After the show in East Meadow, its members will visit East Islip, Commack, Port Washington and Rockville Centre next month.

“We were delighted to have the opportunity to do this show,” Stage Director Gayden Wren said. “We’re doing it as a fundraiser for the church, so we’re not getting paid for this. Money goes to the church and its various programs.”

The opera company has been active for over 70 years, and has performed all over Long Island and New York City. The group has partnered with the church to hold rehearsals of other productions in the past.

“It’s a very nice church,” Wren said. “They’ve been very generous to us and giving us access to their space … We’ve gotten to know the people there, and I hope the East Meadow community will come out to support the show. It’s good for East Meadow to have this kind of thing going on in town.”

This is the first time “Iolanthe” has being brought to stage by the company since 2018, Wren said.

“I think this is going to be one of our best performances,” Wren said. ”We’ve been doing it for a while, and kind of worked out the kinks. I think anyone who comes to see the show will really get their money’s worth, and it will support the church, which is a very worthy enterprise in its own right.”

Tickets are $30, and $25 for students and seniors. To purchase tickets or for information on future performances, visit the Gilbert and Sullivan Light Opera Company’s website, Gaslocoli.org.

East Meadow United Methodist Church is at 470 East Meadow Ave.