The story of The Mikado revolves around a young fellow named Nanki-Poo who has banished himself from the little town of Titipu. Nanki-Poo (Shawn Mealey), it seems, has fallen in love with a beautiful young lady called Yum-Yum (Rachel Pasternak). Unfortunately, Yum-Yum is engaged to be married to her guardian, the tailor Ko-Ko (Michael Mulberry). However, when Nanki-Poo hears that Ko-Ko has been condemned to death for the capital crime of flirting, he hastily returns to Titipu, only to learn that Ko-Ko has not only been granted a reprieve, but has been promoted to the post of Lord High Executioner. Apparently, those in power, wishing to slow down the rash of executions, reason that since Ko-Ko was next in line for execution, he can’t cut off anyone else’s head until he cuts off his own! The Mikado, however, soon takes notice of the lack of executions in Titipu and decrees that if no executions take place within the time of one month, the city shall be reduced to the status of a village. Ko-Ko, desperate to avoid cutting off his own head, vows to find a substitute, and as luck would have it, just at that moment, Nanki-Poo wanders onto the stage with a rope determined to take his own life rather than live life without his beloved Yum-Yum. Ko-Ko immediately seizes on this opportunity and offers the young lad one month of luxurious living at the end of which he would be relatively painlessly decapitated. Nanki-Poo agrees on the condition that he marries Yum-Yum right away, so he can spend his last month in wedded bliss. But just as the wedding celebration begins, a law is discovered, much to Yum-Yum’s distress, which decrees that a condemned man’s wife must be buried alive with his corpse! As is always the case with Gilbert & Sullivan operettas, Act II is full of wonderful ensembles and scenes, which lead to the duos signature “topsy-turvy” ending.
Rounding out the cast of principals is Bill Hammond as The Mikado; Ann Rhody, Katisha; Wayne VanderByl, Pooh-Bah; Bob Gorski, Pish-Tush; Amanda Lobaugh, Pitti-Sing; and Kate Mulberry, Peep-Bo. Production staff is lead by director Nan Hanna-Paquin, who acknowledges two new choreographers, Kate Mulberry and Diana Hunn for excellence in this debut. Accompanying the cast is Dane Noble-Rosema on piano; lighting by Adrian VanderByl, assisted by Katie Holleran; set decoration, R.L. Markham; costumes, Rebecca Rodriguez Fisher assisted by Amanda Lobaugh and Sallie Fisher. Make-up and hair by Marcella Mealey and Rebecca Saiff. Special thanks to the Off-Monroe Players for the loan of the costumes and props. Anne VanderByl and Diane Montondo staffed the box office and house operations.
Chorus members are Stephen Hunn, Charles Palella, and Dan Montondo; women’s chorus includes Carla Cogliando, Hillary Delhagen, Barb Hunn, Marcella Mealey, Karen Nail, Ali Saiff, Emly Sawdey, Anne VanderByl and Eva Wilchenski. Jeanine Follette, Jayde Gray, Diana Hunn, Marie Montondo, Eliza Pope-Collins and Claire Wayman comprise the dancing chorus. “In a departure from our usual ‘modern dress’ treatments of the classic operettas, we are mounting this year’s production in a more traditional format,” said Hanna-Paquin. “The kimonos, sashes (obis) and fans from OMP were just too beautiful not to display on the Gates Hall stage. We are delighted to have so many OMP performers among our cast,” she added. This spring, Gatesingers Anne and Wayne VanderByl, Karen Nail and Bob Gorski were in the cast of “The Pirates of Penzance” with the sister company in Rochester, and Nan Hanna-Paquin served as choreographer.
Tickets for performances July 14 and 15 at 8 pm, and July 16 at 3 pm are available by calling the box office at 315.589.3326. Admission is $8; $7 for students and seniors. The box office will also be staffed during the Homecoming events on Saturday, July 15.