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York Theatre Company to Present MARDI GRAS and THE LAST WORD Operas, Beginning Feb 2

Related: York Theatre Company, Mardi Gras, The Last Word, Mildred Kayden

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The York Theatre Company will present a developmental lab of two short operas, Mardi Gras and The Last Word both composed by Mildred Kayden. Directed by Bill Castellino and with music direction by Christopher McGovern, the 3-member company features Jason Mills, Rebecca Pitcher and Tom Souhrada. Performances are set for February 2 at 2:30pm & 8:00pm and February 3 at 2:30pm at The York Theatre Company in Saint Peter's (Entrance on East 54th Street, just east of Lexington Avenue).

These two short modern operas display the impressive musical range of composer Mildred Kayden- as well as her unique view of human relationships. Kayden is best known to NYC audiences as the composer of Ionescopade, successfully revived at the York Theatre last year.

Mardi Gras (last performed in NYC in 1959) combines the formality of opera, the beat of Dixieland Jazz and the style of Commedia Dell'arte. Commissioned by WNYC's Young Artist Series in 1958, it was suggested by Carl Carmer's verse play Pierrot Grows Up and is based upon a true story from the Mardi Gras of 1872. A Russian Grand Duke hears a Burlesque Queen sing and falls head over heels; the smitten Duke loses her to Joe, an American millionaire. The hilarious love triangle (with disguises, hiding places, duels, amorous looks, and lots of high notes beautifully sung) has a surprise ending and a delightful, tuneful score.

The Last Word, with libretto by the late poet James Broughton, premiered in Philadelphia in 1961 at the countrywide Synod of the United Church of Christ. As the recent date of the Mayan end-of-the-world recedes into history, this riveting duet exposes the complex feelings of a husband and wife moments before Armageddon. This piece approaches its subject matter with humor, irony and compassion; the work suggests that, for modern man, the idea of the apocalypse is most easily grasped with a touch of wit.

These two half-hour operas were first presented in tandem in West Hampton, NY in 1961. They present a combination of the witty and the existential which makes for a memorable theatrical journey.

All performances are free and open to the public. Reservations can be made online at www.yorktheatre.org.

Jason Mills is thrilled to be making his York debut. He played The Phantom in the national tour of The Phantom of the Opera and in the Broadway cast where he understudied both the Phantom and Raoul. Other credits include Forbidden Broadway: SVU (also cast recording); South Pacific (Carnegie Hall); Pardon My English and The New Moon (City Center Encores!); and the new musicals Lonely Rhymes, Illyria, and The Taxi Cabaret. Degree in biology from Harvard University.


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by Richard Sasanow