The Mikado, Gilbert and Sullivan’s satiric look at a stereotypical early 20th Century English version of feudal Japan, is coming to Bemidji State University.
The opera, first performed in 1885, follows the story of a teenager, Nanki-Poo, who runs away from home rather than be forced to marry an older woman by his father — who just happens to be the Mikado, emperor of Japan. While on the lam, he falls in love with the girlfriend of a town executioner, who decides to allow Nanki-Poo to marry his girlfriend for one month. After that month, the pair agree that the executioner will behead Nanki-Poo teen in order to fulfill an order from the Mikado that someone in the city be executed.
BSU’s production of The Mikado opens a four-show run on Feb. 26. The opera begins at 7 p.m. each night from Feb. 26-28, with a 2 p.m. matinee on Feb. 28.
• Bonus: Gallery of costume design sketches
Dr. Cory J. Renbarger, assistant professor of music, says Gilbert and Sullivan originally used the Japanese setting to deliver a scathing satire against rules, laws and hierarchies in place in Great Britain when the opera was written.
“It shows the stupidity of some of our old ways of doing things, and of laws and our conventions with society and with love as well,” Renbarger says. “It’s hilarious.”
Renbarger is the artistic and stage director for the production. Music will be conducted by Scott Guidry, assistant professor of music; costumes will be designed by professional designer Fred Rogers; and BSU’s Tom Skime will supervise the technical production.
Auditions for the show were held in late September and casting was completed in early October. The cast and crew will include BSU students, members of the BSU faculty and staff and residents from the Bemidji community.
Renbarger says he is already seeing how the experience is benefitting the production’s students.
“I have seen the students develop exponentially during this process,” he said. “Academically, it’s such a positive and important thing for them. It’s rewarding to see them have this transformative experience.”
In addition to BSU students and faculty, many members of the Bemidji community will be participating in the production. Some members of the Bemidji Symphony Orchestra will play in the pit, makeup is being designed and applied by Bemidji’s Professional Salon Academy, and costumes are being done by BSU alum and professional costumer Fred Rogers.
“There’s no way I can do it all,” Renbarger said. “Bemidji is a great place full of people who care about art and care about quality, and they’re willing to do a lot for a little. So thankfully we’re able to do this, and we want to keep getting better and better.”
BSU’s production of The Mikado will be held in the Main Theatre of BSU’s Bangsberg Fine Arts Complex. Tickets are available at the door. The price is $15 for adults and $5 for senior citizens; all students are admitted free.
• Dr. Cory J. Renbarger, assistant professor of music
• Synopsis of The Mikado at the Utah Shakespeare Festival
The Mikado cast list, by hometown
Bemidji |56601| Cooper Blackwood, senior, science, tenor; Nanki-Poo
Bemidji |56601| Bob Boland, senior, music, tenor; Pooh-Bah
Bemidji |56601| Miranda Carlson, junior, music education, soprano; Geisha
Bemidji |56601| Mark Christensen, professor of English; The Mikado
Bemidji |56601| Meghan Dougherty, freshman, music; assistant costume designer
Bemidji |56601| Debbie Guelda, professor of biology; set design
Bemidji |56601| Heather Guidry, community member; orchestra
Bemidji |56601| Scott Guidry, assistant professor of music; Conductor
Bemidji |56601| Eric Gustafson, community member, rehearsal pianist
Bemidji |56601| Sarah Hamrin, community member; orchestra
Bemidji |56601| Tracy Johnson, community member; orchestra
Bemidji |56601| Emily Kivi, community member; orchestra
Bemidji |56601| Sammi Korczak, freshman, music; orchestra
Bemidji |56601| Susan Nelson, community member; orchestra
Bemidji |56601| NikkiLee Nolden, sophomore, music education, alto; Pitti-Sing
Bemidji |56601| Eric Olson, community member; orchestra
Bemidji |56601| Geri Olson, information technology specialist; video technician
Bemidji |56601| Cory Renbarger, professor of music; director and set designer
Bemidji |56601| Pat Riley, community member; orchestra
Bemidji |56601| Loretta Roed, community member, geisha
Bemidji |56601| Fred Rogers, community member; costume designer
Bemidji |56601| Thomas Skime, theatre technician; set design, lighting
Bemidji |56601| Josh Sorenson, sophomore, music education, tenor; Pooh-Bah
Bemidji |56601| Sarah Sundeen, community member; orchestra
Bemidji |56601| Libby Sorenson, community member, geisha
Anoka |55303| Ali Lekkas, junior, elementary education; assistant stage manager
Blaine |55434| Gwendolyn Erickson, senior, music, soprano; Yum-Yum
Bovey |55709| Tia Ellies, senior, music education, soprano; Yum-Yum
Brainerd |56401| Megan Tschida, junior, business administration; stage manager, subtitles
Clarkfield |56223| Andrew McCormick, junior, music education, bass; Ko-Ko
Cottage Grove |55016| Lavonte Hardie, sophomore, criminal justice; orchestra
Le Sueur |56058| Luke Barnard, junior, music, tenor; Nanki-Poo
Little Canada |55109| Callie Dunbar, senior, social work, alto; Pitti-Sing
Mankato|56001| Kathryn Freyberg, sophomore, business administration, alto; Geisha, set design
Mentor |56736| Katie Meine, sophomore, music education; Ko-Ko’s Attendant, Geisha
Mounds View |55112| Stephen Martin, sophomore, music; orchestra
Nevis |56467| Brian Bass, junior, music; orchestra
Ortonville |56278| Maggie Ragan, senior, music education, alto; Katisha
Princeton |55371| Hannah Jenson, freshman, music education; Geisha
Redwood Falls |56283| Derek Bebeau, sophomore, music education, bass; Pish-Tush
Slayton |56172| Molly Bass, senior, music education, tenor; Peep-Bo
Staples |56479| Lynnea Iverson, senior, music education, soprano; Geisha
Thief River Falls |56701| Leandra Craigmile, sophomore, music education, alto; Peep-Bo
Bemidji State University, located in northern Minnesota’s lake district, occupies a wooded campus along the shore of Lake Bemidji. Enrolling nearly 5,000 students, Bemidji State offers more than 50 undergraduate majors and nine graduate programs encompassing arts, sciences and select professional programs. BSU is a member of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system and has a faculty and staff of more than 550. University signature themes include environmental stewardship, civic engagement and global and multi-cultural understanding.