Cast chosen for Southeastern Opera Workshop's ‘The Mikado’

Tuesday, March 1, 2016
by: Tonya Lowentritt

     HAMMOND – Southeastern Louisiana University’s Opera/Music Theatre Workshop will present Gilbert and Sullivan’s “The Mikado” on Thursday and Friday, March 17 and 18, at 7:30 p.m. at the Columbia Theatre for the Performing Arts in downtown Hammond.
     According to Charles Effler, director of the Opera/Music Theatre Workshop, “The Mikado” remains the most frequently performed of the 14 comic operas written by W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan. The opera has been translated into numerous languages and is one of the most frequently played musical theatre pieces in history.
     “Gilbert, who wrote the words, created fanciful ‘topsy-turvy’ worlds for these operas, where each absurdity is taken to its logical conclusion – fairies rub elbows with British lords, flirting is a capital offense (The Mikado), gondoliers ascend to the monarchy, and pirates turn out to be noblemen who have gone wrong,” Effler said. “He also made fun of British Victorian social mores, military officers, the British Empire, politicians, and governmental bureaucracy along the way.”
     Opera Workshop welcomes back guest stage director Rachel M. Harris, who has directed Opera Workshop productions “Opera by the Slice,” “La Perichole,” “Fairy Tales: Hansel & Gretel and Cendrillon,” “Street Scene,” “Puccini: Suor Angelica and Gianni Schicci,” “Die Fledermaus,” and “The Marriage of Figaro.”
     Effler said Harris is adding colorful references to Louisiana and U.S. political figures, past and present, to the dialog and lyrics of “The Mikado.”
     “Audiences may remember Opera Workshop’s production of ‘The Pirates of Penzance’ in the fall of 2011, also a Gilbert and Sullivan show, and also directed to great acclaim by Ms. Harris,” Effler said.
     “The Mikado” is set in the mythical Japanese town of Titipu. The Mikado, Emperor of Japan, has declared that flirting – outside of marriage – will be punished by death. The people of Titipu get around this decree by appointing Ko-Ko, who was condemned to die for flirting, as the Lord High Executioner. As Ko-Ko was the next prisoner scheduled to be decapitated, the town authorities reasoned that he could “not cut off another’s head until he cut his own off,” and since Ko-Ko was not likely to try to execute himself, no executions could take place.
     Add to this nonsense the character of Nanki-Poo, who is secretly the Mikado’s son and heir, but has fled the palace because his father has approved his marriage to an old and ugly woman. Of course, Nanki-Poo is in love with Yum-Yum, Ko-Ko’s ward, whom Ko-Ko plans to marry. The plot thickens even further, but all ends well for everyone.
     Former students Damian Faul of Amite and Brent Goodrich of Sulphur will join the cast of current students and sing the roles of Ko-Ko and Pooh Bah, and student Katie Walker will serve as stage manager.
     The cast includes Robert Roy (Lacombe) as The Mikado of Japan, Benjamin Vollentine (Covington) as Nanki-Poo, Terelle Bibbins (Slidell) as Pish-Tush, Michelle Guillot (Slidell) and Bethany Putnam (Covington) as Yum-Yum, Mindy Guidroz (Houma) as Pitti-Sing, Morgan Curole (Larose) and Lauren Gibson (Walker) as Peep-Bo, Sarah Kennemer (Mandeville) as Katisha.
Chorus members include Sara Cage (Baton Rouge), Rachel Davis (Mandeville), Rachel Denton (Houma), Catherine Duensing (LaPlace), Faith Entrekin (Luling), Alfred Harper (New Orleans), Jeremy Guillot and Anne Labranch (Denham Springs), Wesley Newton (Bourg), Brennan Simmons (Walker), and Cody Sires (Chalmette).
     Effler will serve as musical director and conductor. Department of Fine and Performing Arts faculty member Alissa Mercurio Rowe will serve as chorus master. David Sevedie will design the set and lights, and student Brie-linn Golchuk of Barataria will serve as costume coordinator.
     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 one hour prior to each performance. Ticket prices are $21 for adults; $16 for seniors, Southeastern faculty/staff and non-Southeastern students. Current Southeastern students are admitted free of charge with their ID.
     For more information about the Opera/Music Theatre Workshop contact Effler at

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