Mikado performance tailored to fit audience

Actors in the Mikado perform June 27 in the Snow Drama Theatre. Costumes used in the show were rented from the Utah Symphony and Opera. UNIVERSITY COMMUNICATIONS | Courtesy Photo

Gilbert and Sullivan’s, “The Mikado” opened June 27 in the Snow Drama Theater at 7:30 p.m. The comic opera ran June 27 to June 30 and will also run July 5 to 7.

“It was a fabulous and very funny performance,” said Evelyn Linford, a sophomore majoring in University Studies. “I liked the topical humor of the show, the funny characters, and the script, itself, is so funny. The tunes are very catchy too.”

Brandt Hurley, a junior studying theater education, experienced his first opera as one of the male leads, the Grand High Executioner, Ko-Ko. For him, the biggest difference between the opening night for an opera and a musical is the audience.

“It’s more nerve-wracking because if you forget anything, it’s over. The audience is scarier, but great,” Hurley said. “The audience is 50 percent of the show and when the audience laughs, it helps me become more my character and give them the show they deserve.”

Hurley sings a song called, “I’ve Got a Little List.” The lyrics are a list of people Ko-Ko wants to behead. The lyrics of the list change with each version of the opera, based on cultural references the audience can relate to.

Some of the references in the BYU-Idaho version of the song include I-Team leader, Facebook, American Idol and California girls’ short skirts.

Hurley’s only other musical experience was in high school when he participated in the show, “Seussical the Musical.”

Nicole Chamberlin, a junior studying vocal performance, plays the female lead, Yum-Yum.

She spends a significant amount of time on stage during the performance where she is singing most of the time.

“Preparing for a theatrical endeavor where you’re speaking, dancing or singing, there is a lot of practice beforehand. For an athlete, it’s like training for a marathon. I’ve been singing classically since I was fourteen and I’ve been building so I can sing for long periods of time without sounding tired,” Chamberlin said.

The cast and crew have been rehearsing for most of the semester. Two weeks ago was tech week where the cast and orchestra practiced together. The cast members practice for three hours per day, five days a week.

Richard Clifford, the director, said that it’s a progressive process to get a show like the Mikado to come together. Early in the process were rehearsals, then small scenery was added to the stage. Next, lights were added, then the orchestra and finally, costumes.

Costumes for this production of the Mikado were rented from the Utah Symphony and Opera. The costumes were rented for economic reasons and for the fact that they came quickly and ready to use.

At an attempt by Clifford to make the show more accessible, students were given programs that described the history of the show. The theater also provided supertitles on the sides of the stage so that the audience could follow along with the music.

“The supertitles were super helpful because the music is so fast and hard to follow that it really helped a lot,” said Erika Peterson, a senior studying theater education.

Clifford said the theater was meant to make the audience feel welcome. A long, multicolored silk curtain hung in place of the traditional curtain while red and orange lanterns hung above the curtain and the doorways of the theater.

The color scheme and set design was inspired by and borrowed from traditional Japanese artists, Hiroshige and Hokusai.

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