posted July 1, 2014

Opening Weekend for HSRT Musical “Hot Mikado”

Seun Soyemi, Dwight Tolar (AEA), and Chip Duford (AEA) in HSRT’s “Hot Mikado”.

Hope Summer Repertory Theatre is presents “Hot Mikado,” a jazzy, toe-tapping reimagining of Gilbert and Sullivan’s classic operetta.

This lively musical will take audiences on a journey to Titti-Pu, a mythical village booming with swing tunes and teeming with tap-dancing men sporting 1940s zoot suits and Japanese fans.  “Hot Mikado” opens on Friday, July 11, at 8 p.m. in the DeWitt Center main theatre, and plays in rotating repertory on July 12, 17, 23, 26, 28, 31, and August 2, 9.

“Hot Mikado” tells the tale of Nanki-Poo, a wandering trumpeter, and his desperate love for Yum-Yum, who is unfortunately engaged to Ko-Ko, Lord High Executioner of Titti-Pu.  When the Mikado, the great emperor, mandates that Ko-Ko must execute someone within the month or else, Nanki-Poo offers to sacrifice himself in exchange for a month as Yum-Yum’s husband.  What follows is a hilarious tangle of romantic and political escapades that will leave audiences wiping their eyes and holding their sides.

According to director Fred Tessler, “Hot Mikado” captivates audiences because it “takes what is already a great show and makes it something completely different but in an equally fun way.”  While the original “The Mikado” used stately opera music, “Hot Mikado” uses swing music and 1940s dance styles to tell a “fast-paced jazz-up” version of the story.  “It combines the best of Gilbert and Sullivan, the witty lyrics, with really great jazz arrangements,” Tessler said.  “And the music and the dancing energizes the show.”

Playing the role of Nanki-Poo is Thomas Joscelyn, who has recently received his BA in theatre from Wagner College in New York.  In the role of Yum-Yum is acting intern Taylor Harvey, a rising junior at the University of Minnesota/Guthrie Theatre BFA Actor Training Program.  They are joined in this production by Churaqui Mosely, a recent graduate of Greensboro College, in the role of the Mikado.

The role of Ko-Ko will be played by Dwight Tolar (AEA), who received his MFA from Wayne State University and has been an associate professor at The School of Music, Theatre, and Dance at Kansas City University for the past 10 years.  Joining him in the role of Pooh-Bah is Chip Duford (AEA), who is coming back to HSRT for his 21st season.  Also returning to HSRT is Sierra White (AEA) in the role of Katisha.  White received her BFA from Drake University.

Director Fred Tessler is returning for his 21st season at HSRT.  He has collaborated on numerous productions at HSRT, including creating and directing last year’s popular cabaret, “I Am Woman.”

Music director John Jay Espino is making his debut at HSRT this summer.  Having received his degree from San Francisco Conservatory of Music, Espino has directed music and conducted numerous shows across the country, including “South Pacific,” “Sunset Boulevard,” “Many of La Mancha,” and “The Rocky Horror Show.”  In addition, he has also performed roles such as Archibald in “The Secret Garden” and Major Gen in “Pirates of Penzance.”  Regional theatre credits include Idaho Shakespeare Festival, Round Barn Theatre (Indiana), Great Lakes Festival (Ohio), Barn Theatre (Michigan), and Sierra Repertory Theatre (California).

Choreographer Joe Niesen is also joining HSRT for his first time this summer.  Based in Las Vegas, Niesen trained with Olga Drumeva and later at San Francisco School of Ballet.  He has danced with BalleTacoma and Pacific Northwest Ballet in Seattle and performed and choreographed in theatres across the country, including Park Place Entertainment, Sierra Repertory Theatre, and The Western Stage, where he has been an Artist in Residence for the past 26 years.

The supporting cast includes Maddie Baldwin as Pitti-Sing, Olivia Donalson as Peep-Bo, Seun Soyemi as Pish-Tush, Aaron Alcaraz as Gentleman, Michael Dewar as Gentleman, Skye Edward as Gentleman, Manning Goldman as Gentleman, Khyel Roberson as Gentleman, Amanda Giles as Lady, Adrianna Jones as Lady, and Taylor Quick as Lady.

The production team for “Hot Mikado” includes scenic designer Brian Bembridge, lighting designer Stephen Sakowski, costume designer Kristen Ahern, sound designer Amanda Werre, stage manager April Brewer, managing director Rich Perez, and production manager Rachel Hasse.

Individual tickets are now on sale at the DeWitt Ticket Office (141 E. 12th St), which is open Mondays through Fridays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays from noon until intermission.  The college’s downtown ticket office, located at 100 E. Eighth St., is also open Mondays through Fridays from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m.  Adult tickets are $30 for Mezzanine or Balcony and $25 for Orchestra. Senior, faculty and staff tickets are $28 for Mezzanine or Balcony and $22 for Orchestra. Student tickets are $15 for all seating.  Patrons can also purchase individual tickets online by visiting hope.edu/hsrt or calling (616) 395-7890.

Ticket options also include Season Ticket Packages, which save patrons up to 38% off individual ticket prices and guarantee a terrific seat for every performance.  Season Ticket Packages are available now at both ticket office locations.  The Best Buy Package offers seating for four main-stage performances for only $75 for adults, $70 for seniors and $40 for students.  The Super-Saver Package includes seating limited to the orchestra and admission to the four main-stage productions for $60 for both adults and seniors and $40 for students.

More information is available online at www.hope.edu/hsrt.