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HAMMOND – Southeastern Louisiana University's Opera/Music Theatre Workshop will present "La Perichole" on Thursday and Friday, Feb. 6 and 7, at 7:30 p.m. at the Columbia Theatre for the Performing Arts in downtown Hammond.
"La Perichole" is an opera in three acts by Jacques Offenbach. Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy wrote the French-language libretto based on the 1829 one-act play "Le Carrosse du Saint-Sacrement" by Prosper Merimee, which was revived on March 13, 1850, at the Théâtre-Français.
La Perichole's title character, said Chuck Effler, director of the Opera/Music Theatre Workshop, is very loosely based on Micaela Villegas, a beloved 18th century Peruvian entertainer and the famous mistress of Manuel de Amat y Juniet, Viceroy of Peru from 1761 to 1776.
"Offenbach basically invented the genre of comic operetta that we know today," he said. "If you liked Pirates of Penzance, then you will love La Perichole because Gilbert and Sullivan were building off of Offenbach's life work, only Offenbach did it better!
"The story begins on the birthday of the Viceroy; every year he plies the residents of the city of Lima with alcohol to make sure they are happy on his birthday," Effler continued. "He then goes around the town incognito -- but everyone recognizes him. The Viceroy sees La Perichole, falls instantly in love, and wants to install her in his palace and make her his mistress; but by law only married women may live in the palace. Two of the Viceroy's underlings are instructed to find a husband for La Perichole and find a notary who will perform the marriage -- in one hour. By chance, Piquillo is the man chosen to be Perichole's husband, and two notaries are found but won't perform the ceremony. How to persuade them to cooperate? More booze."
Opera Workshop welcomes back guest stage director Rachael M. Harris, who has been directing productions for Effler since 2008.
The cast is comprised of Alyssa Hernandez of Ponchatoula) and Anastasiia Ped of the Ukraine double cast as La Perichole; Joshua Williams of Mandeville as Piquillo, Chase Ledet of Schriever as Don Andres, Benjamin Vollentine of Mandeville as Don Gomez, Stephen Dale of New Orleans as Don Pedro, Katherine Smith of Slidell and Kristina Temple of Amite double cast as Anita.
The cast also includes Kim Dupre, Luling, and Analynn Sober ,Lake Charles, double cast as Beginella; Kayla Blanchard, Lafayette, and Allison Joiner, Ponchatoula, double cast as Manuelita; Morgan Curole, Larose, and Michelle Guillot ,Slidell, double cast as Violetta; Theresa Carollo, Lacombe, as Ninetta; Kalee Broussard, Destrehan, as Bambilla, and Dana Arthur, Abita Springs, and Rachel Davis, Mandeville, as Frasquinella
Also cast are Nicholas Smith, Ponchatoula, as First Notary; Jeremy Lloyd, Baton Rouge, as Second Notary; Joshua Austin, Ponchatoula, as Old Prisoner; Alex McConnell, Chalmette, as Castanet Man/Circus Performer; Katie Walker, New Orleans, as Circus Performer/Donkey; Jason Lane, Baton Rouge, as Juggler; Michael Ricks, Lacombe, as Magician; Olivia Lowentritt, Hammond, as Circus Dog; and Averi Harris, Slidell, Jaquan Warren, Franklinton, Millenique Brown, New Orleans, and Avonte Skinner, Baton Rouge, as Dancers.
Effler will serve as musical director, Department of Fine and Performing Arts faculty member Steve Schepker is designing the sets, guest designer Greg Havard will design the lighting, and faculty member Mignon Charvet will serve as costume coordinator. Former student Lyndsey Manley of Covington will serve as stage manager.
Advance tickets are available at the Columbia Theatre box office Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and will also be available beginning one hour prior to each performance. Ticket prices are $21 for adults; $16 for seniors, Southeastern faculty/staff and non-Southeastern students; and $8 for children twelve and younger. Southeastern students are admitted free of charge with their university ID.
For more information about the Opera/Music Theatre Workshop contact Effler at firstname.lastname@example.org.