By Community Contributor Ann Fink, Chicago Tribune Glen Ellyn
New Philharmonic, under the baton of Maestro Kirk Muspratt, opens 2017 with Gilbert and Sullivan’s “The Mikado,” a comic opera in two acts, stage directed by Michael La Tour at the McAninch Arts Center (MAC) Saturday, Jan. 28 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Jan. 29 at 3 p.m. A free MAC Chat will take place one hour prior to each performance.
“The Mikado” is Gilbert and Sullivan’s most popular opera and has delighted audiences for more than a century. The initial production ran for 672 performances, and within the year, more than 100 other companies were performing the operetta in the Great Britain and the U.S. Through the years, films, television, theater and advertising have referred to or parodied “The Mikado” or its songs. For example, “Three Little Maids” was featured in the “Chariots of Fire” (1981); “Curb Your Enthusiasm” used “Three Little Maids” as background music; Kelsey Grammer performed a solo of “Three Little Maids” in the “Frasier” episode “Leapin’ Lizards” (1995), and Simpsons sang the song in episode #83 “Cape Feare.”
“We’ve secured an amazing cast for this production, which promises to be just the ticket to help Chicagoan’s shake off January doldrums,” says New Philharmonic conductor/music director Kirk Muspratt. “And I’m thrilled to have Michael, director of four of our previous operas, back with us again to lend his skilled director’s eye to what promises to be one of our most entertaining operas ever.”
The cast for “The Mikado includes Chicago’s Justin Berkowitz (Nanki-Poo), Park Ridge’s and COD alum David Govertsen (Poo-Bah), Sam Handley (Pish Tush), Alisa Jordheim (Yum-Yum), Erin Moll (Pitti-Sing), Michael Orlinsky (Ko-Ko), Ted Pickell (The Mikado of Japan) and Emily Volz (Peep-Bo) and Margaret (Meg) Stoltz (Katisha). The design team includes Michael La Tour (stage director/choreographer), Kirk Muspratt (conductor/music director), Glen Ellyn’s Jon Gantt (set design), Schaumburg’s Kimberly Morris (costume design), and Chicago’s Elias Morales (lighting design). Chicago’s Cathryn Bulicek is stage manager.
Nanki-Poo, the son of the Mikado (the Japanese emperor), who years before had fled Titipu to avoid marrying a much older suitor, Katisha, has now returned disguised as a traveling minstrel to find and marry his own beloved Yum-Yum. He finds Yum-Yum, has become betrothed against her will to Ko-Ko, who is in trouble because as Lord High Executioner he is too soft hearted to carry out his duties. Ko-Ko happens upon Nanki-Poo, who is preparing to kill himself rather than live a life without the
Yum-Yum, and the two men strike a bargain: Ko-Ko agrees to let Nanki-Poo marry Yum-Yum now, and, in return, Nanki-Poo agrees to let Ko-Ko behead him at the end of the month. But the plan backfires as Yum-Yum discovers that as a widow, she would be buried alive. In typical Gilbert and Sullivan form, the tangled web ultimately unravels, and everyone lives happily ever after.
“The Mikado” was first performed in 1885 at The Savoy theater in London. At the time, English society was fascinated with Japanese culture. Gilbert worked with this to create the work that was intended to lampoon British political environment in which unqualified men worked their way into positions or were appointed in order to save the faces (or fates) of others. The story behind its creation was told in the 2000 Academy Award-winning film “Topsy Turvy.”
Maestro Muspratt will host a showing of clips from “Topsy Turvy,” Wednesday, Jan. 18 at 7 p.m. in the room MAC 140. This event is being offered as class through College of DuPage Continuing Education program. It is a ticketed event. Tickets are $65 for the class and includes a ticket to the Sunday, Jan. 29, 3 p.m. performance. Tickets are available by registering online at myaccess.cod.edu. For more information call 630.942.2208.
New Philharmonic, now celebrating its 40th anniversary, had its first concert in November 1977 under the baton of Harold Bauer when an orchestra of 24 carefully auditioned musicians performed for a capacity audience of 330 in the Building M “open space” on west campus. Maestro Kirk Muspratt took over the artistic reins when Bauer retired in 2004. Today, under Muspratt’s direction New Philharmonic consists of more than 60 professional musicians and performs more than a dozen concerts a year, reaching more than 7,500 from the greater Chicago area annually. In addition, for each the past three years, 98.7 WFMT Radio has broadcast one of New Philharmonic New Year’s Eve performances, allowing listeners around the world to have the opportunity to enjoy New Philharmonics music.
New Philharmonic, under the direction of Maestro Kirk Muspratt, presents Gilbert and Sullivan’s “The Mikado” stage directed by Michael La Tour at the McAninch Arts Center, located on the campus of College of DuPage, 425 Fawell Blvd., Saturday, Jan. 28 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Jan. 29 at 3 p.m. Tickets are $55 adult; $53 senior/youth. A limited number of $10 student tickets are available with valid student ID. Free MAC Chats will take one hour place prior to each performance. To order concert tickets or more information, call 630.942.4000, or visit AtTheMAC.org.
Maestro Muspratt hosts an education event around the film “Topsy Turvy,” Wednesday, Jan. 18 at 7 p.m. in MAC room 140. Tickets are $65\ and include a ticket to the Sunday, Jan. 29, 3 p.m. performance of “The Mikado.” Registration is available online at myaccess.cod.edu. For more information call 630.942.2208.
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