Skylight Music Theatre
Press Release

Skylight Music Theatre Presents Hot Mikado

Updated Version of Gilbert & Sullivan’s Comic Masterpiece. Set to Swinging Sounds of 1940s Jazz and Blues

By - Aug 22nd, 2017 07:00 am

Milwaukee, Wis. (August 22, 2017) – 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 Debut
Hot 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 Mikado
Based on The Mikado by W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan
Originally Produced at Ford’s Theatre, Washington, D.C.
Frankie Hewitt, Producing Director
Hot Mikado is presented through special arrangement with Music Theatre International (MTI). All authorized performance materials are also supplied by MTI. www.MTIShows.com

Hot Mikado production team and cast:
Production Team
Stage Director …………………………………………… Austene Van
Music Director………………………………………….. Michael Duff
Scenic and Lighting Designer…………………… Sarah Brandner
Costume Designer………………………………… Brian Hemesath
Sound Designer……………………………………… Zach Berinstein
Choreographer……………………………………….. Garry Q. Lewis
Production Stage Manager………………….. Daniel J. Hanson*

Cast
Ko-Ko…………………………………………………… Chris Klopatek*
Nanki-Poo……………………………………………… Michael Penick
Yum-Yum………………………………………………… Rana Roman*
Pooh-Bah……………………………………………. Ryan Cappleman
Pish-Tush………………………………………… Kevin James Sievert
Pitti-Sing………………………………………………… Alexis Roston*
Peep-Bo………………………………………………. Christie Burgess
Katisha………………………………………………… Jamecia Bennett
The Mikado…………………………………………………. Peter Sipla

Ensemble:
James Carrington, Shawn Holmes, Sean Jackson, Carmen Risi, Ava Thomann

* Member of Actors’ Equity Association

Biographies
Austene Van (Director) is an actor, director, and choreographer. As a company member of Penumbra Theatre in Saint Paul, Minn., her credits include The Owl Answers, Detroit ’67, Spunk, Amen Corner, Blue, Ain’t Misbehavin’, Dinah Was, Blues for an Alabama Sky, and Seven Guitars. She recently performed the title role in Aida at Pantages with Theater Latté Da; Blanche Dubois in A Street Car Named Desire, Henry IV, The Unsinkable Molly Brown with Ten Thousand Things; In the Next Room (or The Vibrator Play) at the Jungle Theatre; Disgraced, Triuble In Mind, Gem of the Ocean, Crowns and A Christmas Carol at Guthrie Theater, all in Minneapolis. Radio Golf at IRT/Cleveland Playhouse; To Kill a Mockingbird at Park Square (St. Paul); Shrek the Musical, Once on this Island at Children’s Theatre Company of Minneapolis; Singing in the Rain at Ordway (St. Paul). Recently directed, Intimate Apparel at Ten Thousand Things, Six Degrees of Separation at Theatre in the Round Players; Joan: Voices in the Fire at Rarig Center; Hot Chocolate, Gee’s Bend and Lady Day at Park Square; Lonely Soldier Monologues and A Civil War Christmas at History Theatre; Blues in the Night at Ordway; Ain’t Misbehavin’ at Capri, and Black Nativity at Penumbra. Artistic Director of New Dawn Theatre Productions in Saint Paul, Minn.

Michael Duff (Music Director) Listed in Who’s Who In Entertainment, Duff is a composer, orchestrator, arranger and musical director who 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, Bob Fosse’s Dancin’, Starlight Express, CATS, Nunsense and international tours of Cinderella-Asia with Lea Salonga, 42nd Street-Moscow, The Sound of Music-Asia, The King and I-Asia and CATS-Tour of the Americas. He was Resident Musical Director for six years at the Burt Reynolds Jupiter Theatre and at Marriott’s Lincolnshire Theatre. He is the composer of Phantom of the Country Opera (Joseph Jefferson Award nominee for Best New Work), published by Music Theatre International, Rodeo (ASCAP/Disney Musical Theatre Workshop winner), At Wit’s End (Carbonell Award winner for Best New Work), Ms. Cinderella and one composer of Female Problems: An Unhelpful Guide.

Performance Information
Performances of Hot Mikado start Friday, September 29 and run through Sunday, October 15, 2017 in the Cabot Theatre, 158 N. Broadway, in the Historic Third Ward of Milwaukee.

Tickets & Box Office
Tickets are $30 – $75 (plus tax and fees) and can be purchased in person at the Broadway Theatre Center Box Office, 158 N. Broadway, or by calling (414) 291-7800, Monday – Saturday, noon – 6 p.m. Box Office hours are noon – 6 p.m. The Box Office window is also open two hours prior to each performance. Tickets may be purchased online at www.skylightmusictheatre.org.
For ticket discounts and more information sign up for Skylight’s email newsletter at www.skylightmusictheatre.org or call the Box Office (414) 291-7800.

Group discounts are available for parties of 10 or more. Email MorganH@skylightmusictheatre.org or call (414) 299-4964.

New! Purchase discounted parking vouchers from the Broadway Theatre Center Box Office for use in the Historic Third Ward parking garage at 212 N. Milwaukee Street (one block east and one block north). Vouchers can be purchased for $5 during normal box office hours, and are valid between 5 p.m. and 11:59 p.m. for evening performances only. No refunds.

Special Events
Skylight Insights. In-depth discussions with directors and special guests take place one hour before every Wednesday and Sunday performance.

For more information visit www.skylightmusictheatre.org, email info@skylightmusictheatre.org or call the Box Office at (414) 291-7800.

Skylight Bar & Bistro
The Skylight Bar & Bistro is located on the second floor of The Broadway Theatre Center. It is open two hours before each performance in the Cabot Theatre and features gourmet dining and fine wine by Indulge Wine Room. Reservations for full table service in Skylight Bar & Bistro can be made in advance by calling (414) 291-3773, at www.skylightmusictheatre.org/bistro or email Skylight@getindulge.com. Counter service is available without reservations.

About Skylight Music Theatre
Skylight Music Theatre’s mission since 1959: To bring the full spectrum of music theatre works to a wide and diverse audience in celebration of the musical and theatrical arts and their reflection of the human condition. Skylight presents productions “Skylight Style” – bringing fresh approaches or interesting twists to music theatre works, creating meaningful connections, not only between the characters on stage but with the audience as well. The beautiful, intimate Cabot Theatre allows audiences to feel close to the powerful emotions on stage.

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