Skylight Music Theatre Presents HOT MIKADO
Skylight Music Theatre opens the 2017-18 season with Hot Mikado, a swinging version of Gilbert & Sullivan's comic masterpiece The Mikado, running Friday, September 29 through Sunday, October 15, 2017 in the Cabot Theatre at the Broadway Theatre Center, 158 N. Broadway, Historic Third Ward, Milwaukee. This updated version of Gilbert & Sullivan's 19th century classic incorporates big band, swing, gospel, blues and jazz. Skylight's Cabot Theatre will be transformed into a 1940s nightclub, the type of lush and elegant venue where Duke Ellington or Cab Calloway might perform, or the Nicholas Brothers might dazzle with a tap number up and down a staircase. Based on the operetta The Mikado written by W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan, Hot Mikado features book and lyrics adapted by David H. Bell, and music adapted and arranged by Rob Bowman. Reimagining of The Mikado "Skylight has done the original The Mikado ten times* in its history, including in 1959, the year Skylight Music Theatre opened. The Mikado proved so popular that we presented it every decade since then," said Skylight Artistic Director Ray Jivoff. "This is the first time we have ever presented Hot Mikado. This reimagining of a Skylight staple is a fun and non-traditional homage to Skylight's past."
In Hot Mikado, cultures collide in a musical comedy story of ill-fated lovers, madcap power struggles, a love triangle and outlandish laws that are followed to illogical ends.
Stage Director and Music Director Making Skylight DebutHot Mikado's cast of 14 will be directed by Austene Van, who is making her Skylight debut. Van, an actor, director, and choreographer, is artistic director of New Dawn Theatre Productions in Saint Paul, Minn. She was recently seen by Milwaukee audiences in the role of Jory at the Milwaukee Repertory Theater's production of Disgraced. "I think Skylight audiences will be thrilled by this updated version of Gilbert & Sullivan's comic masterpiece. It remains true to the wonderful G & S music and harmonies, but takes a fresh approach to address some of the out-dated dialog and stereotyping that makes audiences wince," said Van. "I am fascinated with Gilbert & Sullivan's ability to craft such a funny and outrageous story while hiding political and cultural messages. In 1885, when The Mikado premiered in London, it was a time when the world was swept up in a craze for all things Japanese, so the messages are hidden behind the opulence of Japanese motifs," said Van. Van said it inspired her to set Hot Mikado in a 1940s nightclub. "It resonates with the feel of a Cotton Club, where African-American culture was embraced by audiences, while at the same time things were hidden from them," she said. The nightclub set design by Sarah Brandner will feature a six-piece band on stage, led by music director Michael Duff. Duff, a composer, orchestrator, arranger and musical director is also making his Skylight debut. Duff appeared on Broadway as the City Editor in The News. His credits as musical director and conductor include national tours of West Side Story, Les Miserables, 42nd Street and international tours of Cinderella-Asia with Lea Salonga.
Cast Features Milwaukee Favorites and Skylight Debuts Hot Mikado's featured performers include Jamecia Bennett (Katisha), Chris Klopatek (Ko-Ko), Michael Penick (Nanki-Poo) and Rana Roman (Yum-Yum). Both Jamecia Bennett and Michael Penick will make their Skylight debuts. Bennett is a Minneapolis-based actress and recording artist and new lead singer of the three-time Grammy Award-winning Sounds of Blackness. Penick hails from Iowa City where his opera and music theatre credits include the title role in Candide with Third Avenue Playhouse and Harold Hill in The Music Man with Theatre Cedar Rapids. Among the Skylight Music Theatre favorites returning to the Cabot stage are Chris Klopatek, who performed in Skylight's Pirates of Penzance and The Producers, and recently worked with Lake Tahoe Shakespeare, Idaho Shakespeare, and was seen in Lobby Hero with Milwaukee Chamber Theatre. Rana Roman appeared at Skylight in In the Heights and Rent. She was recently seen in Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike with Milwaukee Chamber Theatre and in A Christmas Carol with Milwaukee Repertory Theater.
The Chicago Reader called Hot Mikado "the most energetic, funny, toe-tapping musical comedy you'll ever see" and praised its "new sassy, brassy energy." The Chicago Tribune described it as "highly entertaining!" Time Out Chicago said it was "genuinely showstopping!" *Skylight has presented The Mikado onstage or in touring productions ten times during the following seasons: 2004-05, 1993-94, 1989-90, 1986-87 (tour), 1981-82, 1977-78, 1971-72 (tour), 1962-63, 1961-62, 1959-60. Hot MikadoBased on The Mikado by W.S. Gilbert and Arthur SullivanOriginally Produced at Ford's Theatre, Washington, D.C.Frankie Hewitt, Producing DirectorHot Mikado is presented through special arrangement with Music Theatre International (MTI). All authorized performance materials are also supplied by MTI. www.MTIShows.com