NDSU Opera Theatre performing ‘The Mikado’ this weekend
Published: Thursday, May 3, 2012
Updated: Thursday, May 3, 2012 16:05
The NDSU Opera Theatre has been hard at work this week putting the finishing touches on their upcoming performance of “The Mikado.” While it’s an opera, it’s also a comedy and ought to be a good time for all ages. Behind the good humor is months of hard work on the part of the students involved.
Michael Weber, who is directing the production, says it’s technically operetta because it has spoken dialogue and it’s humorous. Moreover, even though it’s set in Japan, “The Mikado” is a satire on British comedy; it makes fun of government officials like the prime minister and parliament. Anyone familiar with any other Gilbert and Sullivan play should feel right at home watching the production.
The thing that’s kind of cool -- it’s still funny. It’s over a hundred years old and the humor is still there,” Weber argued, after pointing out “The Mikado” made its debut in 1885.
Weber says the department decided to go with this opera as they felt it was the best vehicle for the students they have. He says they try to make sure to give their students an opportunity to experience different styles but something that will fit the singers in the group. In addition to having vocal talent within the cast, Weber points out these students have to nail the acting, the comedy and the style.
Work on the production began at the beginning of the semester, and Weber says rehearsal has been going very well during the past few weeks.
“When you only rehearse twice a week, it takes a while to get up to speed, to get it all put together. But the last couple weeks have been great, and we’re rehearsing every night now,” Weber said. Some of the challenges they’ve had to overcome along the way include choreography, getting the lines right, the characters as well and simply remembering all of it.
“I think they’ve enjoyed working on it because it’s a comedy. It’s fun,” he added. Weber says he’s enjoyed watching the students progress and grow over time and develop into their character. Over time, he says they will be able to look back at the final product and see that all the work was worth it, and as a teacher that is the most rewarding aspect of the production.
Hannah Green and Ally Martin are two students who are in the chorus for the production, and they agree that “The Mikado” has required quite a bit of work on their part.
“For me [the hardest part] has always been the choreography,” Martin said. “It’s hard because we did music the first two weeks to a month, so it was hard sometimes remembering the things you learned in January, and then you added on choreography, and blocking, and costumes, and characterization. And now, you get to the end and wonder, ‘Do I remember that phrase anymore? I really hope I do.’”
“A lot of the songs are really fun and have a lot of character to them. They are fun to sink your teeth into and really have a lot of fun with the characters,” Green said, adding that since it’s not very serious they have a bit of freedom with it.
Green says it’s been satisfying to watch the show come together. This past week they were working on the stage and added costumes, makeup and everything else needed to make the show whole. Martin mentioned that after working on the production for so long it was easy to forget it was an entertaining show, but a few performances for middle school students last weekend help her remember it is, in fact, still funny.
Weber hopes the audience comes away with an appreciation for the talent here at NDSU, as well as the work they have all put into it. He says the best compliment an audience can give is saying they are invested in the production and engaged throughout.
“I hope they came in, they laughed and they had a good time,” Green said, looking forward to the performance. Martin added that whoever the audience is should enjoy it because there are jokes in it for all ages.
“The Mikado” runs tonight and tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 in the Festival Concert Hall. To learn more or to buy tickets, visit http://www.ndsu.edu/finearts/.