Fine Arts Series: The Mikado

Audiences gathered in the Dale Horton Auditorium to enjoy a Fine Arts production that didn’t take itself too seriously. Characters dressed in kimonos and sashes also sported the occasional top hat and monocle in PCC’s production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado.

With the combined efforts of stage director Dan Webb, music director Andy Cole, and conductor Dr. Charles Bombard, the production depicts the fictional town of Lilipu during a time where flirting is punishable by death. Shenanigans ensue, with colorful characters, catchy songs, and spot-on comedic timing throughout.

In the weeks before performances, Dan Webb worked with each cast and chorus member to perfect their stage movement and character performance. PCC faculty Dr. Tim Willingham, who played the titular character the Mikado, was impressed by the way Webb managed the stage. “He knows exactly what he wants, but if it doesn’t quite work for us, he instantly comes up with something else amazing that brings the scene to life,” said Willingham. “[Being part of The Mikado] has been so much fun that it has not seemed like work.”

Trumpet player Jeff Henderson (Jr., NH) found performing in the orchestra pit to be a new experience. “The most challenging thing for playing in the pit would definitely be not being able to see the actors on stage! Everyone in the pit has to be really attentive to Dr. Bombard conducting, as he keeps the soloists, chorus, and orchestra together,” he said.

After having last performed in Fine Arts during A Christmas Carol in 2016, Dakota Wilson enjoyed returning to the stage and becoming part of the hard-working cast of The Mikado. “There’s so much talent on and off stage. Our orchestra always helps us along and really makes the production worth listening to. Stage crew, lighting, and sound never cease to amaze me. The sets are always beautiful, and the tech team is always so ready to help. They really make this production enjoyable to be a part of,” he said. Playing Lord High Executioner Ko-Ko, Dakota was excited for the student body to experience the silliness of the British satire “in a way only Gilbert and Sullivan can communicate.”

Michaela Chambers (Sr., TN), who played Pitti-Sing in the production, worked hard to balance her character’s complexity on stage. “The other two wards and I are meant to function as three separate characters, yet at the same time we are also a unit. As an actor, it has been a challenge to find the balance between acting as a supporting character, but also learning how to embrace the spotlight at its appropriate time, as well,” she said.

As one of the chorus members in the play and the understudy for Ko-Ko, Matthew McIntyre (Jr., GA) enjoyed having the opportunity to work with a number of the cast and crew in The Mikado. “I have so much appreciation for the talent and level of dedication every one of my fellow chorus members has brought to this production. Each of us has different areas in which we are strong, and we all complement each other well,” he said. “As an understudy, I have gotten to see and experience the process from the side of the chorus and from the side of the leads. Everyone has put in so much work.”

Music faculty Stephen Spilger, who played Nanki-Poo, appreciated the attention to detail each cast member had of their character’s communication from the stage. “What some people don’t know is that we are making changes leading all the way up to the show. Even the week of the production, we are tweaking blocking or costume pieces or makeup in order to make it better,” he said.

The colorful stage of The Mikado consisted of large set pieces, including a 12’ bridge. Scene shop manager Ben Davis and his crew worked hard to bring these set pieces to life. “Building a set is very much like solving a puzzle, and I think this is what makes it so enjoyable,” he said. “The bridge was probably the most difficult piece. Due to the height off the stage and the 12’ it had to span, it had to be constructed out of metal and welded together. We have done things out of metal before but this was completely different as it had to actually support a good number of people.”

With finals only weeks away, enjoying a few laughs during a unique operetta and taking photos with friends were welcome diversions for the student body.

Published11/22/2019

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