The Mikado: Directors Note

Jonathan playing Nanki-poo sings "Wandering Minstrel" to Derrick Karas
Jonathan Bartlett,playing Nanki-poo, sings “Wandering Minstrel” to Derrick Karas a member of the ensemble.

Back when VHS tapes were a thing and siblings fought over what movie to pop in the VRC, my sister and I always agreed on one movie, the film version of The Pirates of Penzance.  Our mother never understood our obsession with the music and lyrics of Gilbert and Sullivan’s operas, especially at such a young age, but we fell in love with the productions non the less.  For my 8th grade musical, the choir director at that time had the idea to combine the three great Gilbert and Sullivan musicals into one show.  So we mushed the plot lines of Pirates of Penzance, H.M.S. Pinafore and The Mikado.  While it wasn’t the best musical, it opened so many 13 and 14 year olds to the music of Gilbert and Sullivan.  Their music is recreated and mocked in pop culture all the time, from background music in Curb Your Enthusiasm to Family Guy creating their own lyrics to songs.

Maddie Fricker (Pitti-Sing), Maggie Collins (Yum-Yum) and Alexis Thompson (Peep-Bo) sing the famous song "Three Little Maids"
Maddie Fricker (Pitti-Sing), Maggie Collins (Yum-Yum) and Alexis Thompson (Peep-Bo) sing the famous song “Three Little Maids”

Homestead High School has embarked on the challenging journey of producing Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado, a famous operetta from 1885.  It has been Rebecca Winnie’s and my goal to bring a diverse and well rounded historical overview of Musical Theatre history through the productions of the musicals.  Our seniors this year will have graduated with musical knowledge of three musical power houses, Gilbert and Sullivan, Rodgers and Hammerstein and Lerner and Loewe, as well as the modern musical Pippin.

Way back in June when we announced the musical The Mikado, to set it in a fantasy land and not Japan.   Like many people do with a Shakespearean play, we have decided to create our own Mikado in a fantasy world with the research and inspiration being that of Cosplay.  Our set design is a town square where we’ve taken our favorite elements of many cultures (Greek columns, Venetian bridges, Chinese temples, Russian windows and more.)

The cast, crews and pit orchestra have worked hard on this production, so I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!  I know every day I’m smiling and singing songs from the show because it was a treat to rehearse and create.


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