Friday, April 25, 2014

High-strung humor: ‘The Mikado’

THREE LITTLE MAIDS FROM SCHOOL — This month’s performance of ‘The Mikado’ is the first time it has been performed at Liberty since 1996. The story is set in Japan but was written as a satire about British social institutions in the 19th century.

Liberty’s Opera Workshop performs classic operetta

Ladies clad in silk, flirtatiously fluttering their fans, sashay across the Tower Theater’s stage in this semester’s opera, “The Mikado.”

One of British opera-composing duo Arthur Gilbert and W.S. Sullivan’s most famous works, the opera is set in a fictitious town in medieval Japan.

The story follows a young wandering minstrel by the name of Nankipu, played by juniors Andrew Struhar and Jeremy Redman in alternate performances, as he woos his beloved Yum-Yum, played by seniors Eliza Buckler and Amanda Carpenter.

Yum-Yum is betrothed to marry her guardian, Ko-Ko, played by junior Joshua Head, who was elevated from the status of lowly tailor to the post of Lord High Executioner of the town of Titipu.

What follows is a series of humorous hijinks, all set to lively song and dance numbers.

“The Mikado” was performed at Liberty once before in 1996, according to opera director Dr. Wayne Kompelien.

“We try to meld together singing and acting,” Kompelien said. “That’s something you cannot learn how to do without having the opportunity to do it. This play is very much about timing and humor.”

“The Mikado” was written by Gilbert and Sullivan as a satirical take on British social and economic institutions. The play was set in Japan, which was considered a distant and exotic locale during the 19th century. This allowed Gilbert and Sullivan to make fun of British institutions freely, simply by disguising them as Japanese, according to Kompelien.

“They were able to get away with it because they had made it a Japanese setting, otherwise, it would have been construed as offensive,” Kompelien said.

The play also features junior Sophia Curtis as the elderly antagonist Katisha, seniors John East and Andrew Potter as the Grand Poobah and senior Jason Irizarry as the Mikado. “The Mikado” has three more performances on Jan. 27, 28 and 29. Ticket information is available on the Liberty Theater Arts website, which can be found through the Liberty Splash page.

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