New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players Reveals Concepts for Reimagined THE MIKADO; Kelvin Moon Loh Joins Creative Team!
New YorK Gilbert & Sullivan Players (NYGASP), America's preeminent Gilbert & Sullivan repertory company, has revealed production concepts for its new mounting of the time-honored classic, The Mikado.
"Preserving the integrity of Gilbert and Sullivan's comic operas remains our top priority," explains NYGASP Executive Director and Producer David Wannen. "At the same time, we wanted to develop a concept for The Mikado that respects all communities and actively integrates a more diverse cast, in both principal and ensemble roles."
Directed and conceived by NYGASP Associate Stage Director David Auxier, the re-imagined production will open on Wednesday, December 28th (7:30PM) at The Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College and play ten performances through January 8, 2017.
Over the past several years, Mikado productions around the globe have come under strong scrutiny from members of the Asian-American community with concerns about the use of Japanese stereotypes. This year, NYGASP's Board of Directors and staff have worked diligently to address these issues by meeting with diverse members of the theatrical community and developing an advisory board of Asian-American theater professionals to aid in the development of a new production which will better reflect the sensitivities of a modern audience.
A key step was hiring Asian-American actor/director/writer Kelvin Moon Loh (Broadway's "The King and I" and "Side Show") as the production's Assistant Director.
"Kelvin has been integral in the casting process and in bridge-building with the Asian-American community," said Wannen. When announcing auditions, the company publicized that it was "actively seeking diversity in recruiting new company members."
In addition to its public posting, NYGASP directly contacted Asian-American theater community leaders to broaden the casting search. "There has been an undeniable effort to better present The Mikado for a present-day audience," says Loh. "I presented many ideas to NYGASP about casting that I believed would be more inclusive; exploring unconventional avenues to seek out new talent of every ethnicity. I truly believe that NYGASP has taken the necessary steps to be progressive as a company, using this production as jumping off point."
In director David Auxier's new production concept, elements of Victorian England and Japanese culture have been carefully curated and combined with fantasy to enhance the production.
"The challenge I was confronted with as director was immense!" says Auxier. "How could I weigh the responsibility of setting this legendary piece in a way that honors all of its history, while striking a balance of necessary respect and understanding of the modern world and its audiences? I decided the answer was in embracing the original intent as completely as possible. The usage of a mostly unfamiliar but exciting culture as a lens through which to set a humorous satire that clearly pokes its fun at English - and often universal - mores and excesses. By setting a theatrical context through a short prologue, we invite the audience to join us on a journey to the fantastically imagined town of Titipu -- a dream setting clearly influenced by Japanese art and architecture, yet a society that is still unmistakably 'English' at its core."
The Mikado will feature a new production design including scenery designed by Anshuman Bhatia, costumes designed by Quinto Ott and lighting designed by Benjamin Weill.
In addition to the new production, NYGASP will host a public forum scheduled for November 3rd, 2016 at the Kaye Playhouse. "A continuing dialogue with the community is critical," explains Wannen. That dialogue began in late 2015, with meetings at Actors Equity Association. An advisory group including Robert Lee, Professor at Tisch School of the Arts; Scott Watanabe ("Allegiance"); and Caitlin Burke ("Sound of Music") was assembled and continues to work closely with NYGASP.
For over 40 years New YorK Gilbert & Sullivan Players has kept the G&S tradition fresh, entertaining, and relevant by recognizing the need to re-evaluate and revisit time honored performance practices with each new cast and each new season. Founder and Artistic Director Albert Bergeret has been the guiding force behind the evolution of the Company's entire repertoire, but, as he says "It is with a great sense of satisfaction that I see a new generation artistic team taking the lead on this new and challenging endeavor of keeping The Mikado on the stage and in the public eye. It is also an opportunity to develop the experience of other talents as I look to the future of our Company and the Gilbert & Sullivan repertory."
Under the dynamic leadership of Mr. Bergeret, The New YorK Gilbert & Sullivan Players has been hailed as "the leading custodian of the G&S classics" by New York Magazine and has created its own special niche in the cultural mosaic of New York City and the nation. Since its founding in 1974, the company has presented over 2,000 performances of the G&S masterpieces throughout the United States, Canada and England, captivating audiences of all ages.
For more information and tickets for the NYGASP season which includes the limited engagement of Cox and Box, paired with Trial by Jury will play October 29 & 30, 2016 at the Marjorie S. Deane Little Theater (10 W. 64th Street between Central Park West & Broadway) along with The Mikado (December 28-31, 2016 and January 5-8, 2017) and Patience (April 29-30, 2017) at The Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College (East 68th Street between Park & Lexington Avenues) log onto www.nygasp.org or by phone (212) 769-1000.
Set rendering by Anshuman Bhatia
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