The Mikado

or, The Town of Titipu


book by


music by

W. S. Gilbert

Arthur Sullivan



Amherst Regional High School


Friday, November 1

8:00 p.m.

Saturday, November 2

8:00 p.m.

Sunday, November 3

2:00 p.m.

Friday, November 8

8:00 p.m.

Saturday, November 9

8:00 p.m.



Stage Director

Russ Ekstrom


Music Director

David Kidwell



Joanne Tebaldi



Bob Graham
Steve Morgan
Linda Stark Patterson
Elaine Walker


The curtain rises on the men's chorus, reassuring us that they are Gentlemen of Japan and setting the stage for the beginning of our story. Into the town of Titipu wanders the minstrel Nanki-Poo, who, despite his humble appearance (in one of those unexpected complications which G&S audiences have learned to expect), is really the son of the Mikado, Emperor of Japan. He has fled his father's court to escape an arranged marriage with the persistent lady Katisha, and has fallen in love with Yum-Yum. Yum-Yum, however, is betrothed to her guardian, Ko-Ko. Now, having heard that Ko-Ko has been condemned to death, Nanki-Poo arrives to claim Yum-Yum for his bride.

Imagine Nanki-Poo's consternation when he learns from the noble Pish-Tush and the haughty Pooh-Bah that, not only has Ko-Ko been reprieved, but he has been elevated to the rank of Lord High Executioner of Titipu and is preparing to marry Yum-Yum that very afternoon. Ko-Ko arrives in triumphal array to confirm this arrangement. Yum-Yum appears, accompanied by her sisters Pitti-Sing and Peep-Bo, and by the rest of her schoolmates (the women's chorus). Still, Yum-Yum and Nanki-Poo manage to find a quiet moment together, where he reveals his lineage to her and they reflect on what might have been, were she not to Ko-Ko plighted.

Tension mounts when a letter arrives from the Mikado, noting the lack of executions in Titipu since Ko-Ko took office and ordering an urgent remedy to this situation. While Ko-Ko (who has never even killed a fly) agonizes over how to comply with the Mikado's decree, Nanki-Poo reappears, deeply despondent about his loss of Yum-Yum and intent upon committing suicide. Ko-Ko strikes a bargain with Nanki-Poo: he will let Nanki-Poo marry Yum-Yum, but, at the end of one month, Nanki-Poo will let Ko-Ko officially behead him. They announce their pact to general rejoicing, which is cut short by the entrance of Katisha, intent upon imposing her affections on Nanki-Poo. The Titiputians manage to drive Katisha from the scene, but she vows to return -- with the Mikado. (Ominous chord here for full effect.)

In Act II, we find Yum-Yum preparing for her wedding with Nanki-Poo. After they sing a merry madrigal to console themselves over the brevity of their marriage-to-be, Ko-Ko rushes in to announce another complication. He has discovered a little-known law which states that, when a married man is executed, his wife must be buried alive. Yum-Yum, understandably, calls off the engagement. Nanki-Poo proposes that Ko-Ko execute him immediately, but Ko-Ko cannot bring himself to do so, concocting instead a ruse of a fictional execution, supported by all the legal documents and affidavits, to be obtained by bribing Pooh-Bah. This ruse will allow the lovers to marry, but they must flee the country, as the Mikado is about to arrive.

Pomp and ceremony attend the Mikado's entrance. Ko-Ko, believing the purpose of the visit is to verify that an execution has taken place, produces the affidavit and enthusiastically describes the fictional event, with Pitti-Sing and Pooh-Bah providing corroborative detail. But Katisha notices Nanki-Poo's name on the document, and the Mikado declares the three accomplices guilty of "compassing the death of the Heir Apparent," condemning them to death by boiling oil (or perhaps melted lead). The trio's only hope is to admit their lie and produce the living heir. But, since Nanki-Poo has already married Yum-Yum, Katisha is certain to insist upon their executions anyway.

Under the circumstances, how else can Ko-Ko save his skin except by convincing Katisha to marry him instead of Nanki-Poo? He woos her touchingly, tunefully, and, in the end, successfully. All the residents of Titipu -- and all the members of the audience -- can breathe a collective sigh of relief and let the curtain fall on another triumph of reason and wit over the forces of darkness and confusion.

-- Kurtiss Gordon

The Setting

Act I: Courtyard of Ko-Ko's Official Residence

Act II: Ko-Ko's Garden

Musical Numbers


Act I:


If you want to know who we are

Nanki-Poo and Men


A wand'ring minstrel I

Nanki-Poo and Men


Our great Mikado, virtuous man

Pish-Tush and Men


Young man, despair

Pooh-Bah, Nanki-Poo, and Pish-Tush

And have I journeyed for a month

Nanki-Poo and Pooh-Bah


Behold the Lord High Executioner

Ko-Ko and Men

As some day it may happen

Ko-Ko and Men


Comes a train of little ladies



Three little maids from school are we

Yum-Yum, Peep-Bo, Pitti-Sing, and Women


So please you, Sir, we much regret

Yum-Yum, Peep-Bo, Pitti-Sing, Pooh-Bah, and Women


Were I not to Ko-Ko plighted

Yum-Yum and Nanki-Poo


I am so proud

Pooh-Bah, Ko-Ko, and Pish-Tush


With aspect stern and gloomy stride


The threatened cloud has passed away

Nanki-Poo, Yum-Yum, Pooh-Bah, and Ensemble

Your revels cease!

Katisha, Nanki-Poo, and Ensemble

For he's going to marry Yum-Yum

Pitti-Sing and Ensemble

The hour of gladness is dead and gone

Katisha and Ensemble

INTERMISSION (15 minutes)

Act II:


Braid the raven hair

Pitti-Sing and Women


The sun, whose rays are all ablaze



Brightly dawns our wedding day

Yum-Yum, Pitti-Sing, Nanki-Poo, and Pish-Tush


Here's a how-de-doo!

Yum-Yum, Nanki-Poo, and Ko-Ko


Mi-ya sa-ma

Mikado, Katisha, and Chorus


A more humane Mikado

Mikado and Chorus


The criminal cried as he dropped him down

Ko-Ko, Pitti-Sing, Pooh-Bah, and Pish-Tush


See how the Fates their gifts allot

Mikado, Pitti-Sing, Pooh-Bah, Ko-Ko, and Katisha


The flowers that bloom in the spring

Nanki-Poo, Ko-Ko, Yum-Yum, Pitti-Sing, and Pooh-Bah


Alone, and yet alive!



Willow, tit-willow



There is beauty in the bellow of the blast

Katisha and Ko-Ko


For he's gone and married Yum-Yum


Dramatis Personæ

The Mikado of Japan

Stephen Curylo

Nanki-Poo (His Son, disguised as a wandering minstrel)

John Meredith

Ko-Ko (Lord High Executioner of Titipu)

Jim Ellis

Pooh-Bah (Lord High Everything Else)

Joseph Donohue

Pish-Tush (A Noble Lord)

Robert Kumin


Julie M. Poole


(Three Sisters, wards of Ko-Ko)

Louise Krieger


Susan Wiggin

Katisha (An Elderly Lady, in love with Nanki-Poo)

Kathleen Meredith

Chorus of School Girls
Caralyn Ballou, Deborah Braswell, Susan M. Burt, Esta Busi, Cami Elbow, April Grant, Sarah Harrington, Jennifer Healey, Marese Dolan Hutchinson, Anah Klate, Nina Kleinberg, Heather Lattuca, Elysse Link, Susan McWilliams, Kathy Moser, Yvonne Nicholson, Renée Schatteman, Mary Jane Schulze, Jane Smithwick Shohan, Holly Shriver, Elaine Walker
Chorus of Nobles and Guards
Charles Adams, Carlton C. Brose, Gershon Eigner, John Foster, Glen Gordon, Kurtiss Gordon, Peter Hirschman, Al Hudson, Kevin P. Hutchinson, Barbara Kasper, Mzamo P. Mangaliso, Richard Mudgett, Mark Parsons, Paul E. Peelle, Joe Pistrang, Bob Salvini, Lewis Scott, Stephen Tanne, Jim Walker



Linda Greenebaum

Violins I

Fred Henle, Elaine Holdsworth, Davin Peelle, Diana Peelle, Allen Smith, John Wcislo

Violins II

Laila Bernstein, Chiung-Yin Chung, Steve Irwin, Elizabeth Kelly, Molly Lindsay, Bob McGuigan


Joseph Contino, Judy Hudson, Bob Mertz, Catherine McCurry


April Acker, Barbara Davis, Janet O'Rourke, Louise Pressman


Michael Greenebaum


Susan Dunbar, Patricia Devine


Patricia Devine


Sarah Callahan


Miriam Jenkins, Jim Henle


George Howard


Sheldon Ross, John Jenkins

French Horns

Jim Chapman, Peggy Chapman


David R. Evans, Steve Tilley


Peter Venman


Stage Director

Russ Ekstrom

Music Director

David Kidwell


Joanne Tebaldi

Assistant Music Directors

Kathy Moser, Julie M. Poole

Dance Captain

Nancy Clydesdale

Technical Director

Bob Graham

Scenic Designer

Timothy Holcomb

Lighting Designer

Jonathan Polgar

Costume Designer

Richard Gregory

Make-up Designer

Linda Stark Patterson

Associate Producer

Jacqueline McDowell

Stage Manager

Matt Kimmel

Assistant Stage Manager

Lew Jordan

Assistant to the Stage Manager

Katie Berry


Sally and Bill Venman

Business Manager

Jim Walker

House Manager

Geert DeVries


Joanne Tebaldi

Program Typesetting/Printing

Bob Salvini, The Print Shack

Hall Decoration

Ruth Levine


Gwen Mitus, Mitus Photography

Taping and Sound

Harrison Digital Audio Services


Ken Walker

Audition Accompanists

Kenneth Forfia, Glen Gordon, Harry Seelig


Karen Jordan, Diane Kelton, and Elaine Walker, co-heads; Mildred Allenchey, Catherine Bennett, Jeanne Closson, Dorothy Dean, Cami Elbow, Nadine Gallo, Barbara Hales, Diane Helgesen, Doris Holden, Marese Dolan Hutchinson, Phyllis Jordan, Wendy Larson, Carol Lee, Louise MacDonald, Jacqueline McDowell, Alice Mertz, Kathy Moser, Carolyn Samonds, Sally Venman, Fay Zipkowitz
Linda Stark Patterson, head; Gretchen Crowley, Jeanette Ennis, Michelle Patterson, Sarah Patterson, Shirley Pérez
Bob Graham, head; Sudro Brown, Bryant Carpenter, Phil DePeri, John Foster, Lew Jordan, Ruth Levine, Gabe McGuigan, Geoff Moss, Judi Pierce, Joe Pistrang, Gordon Rockwell, Dick Stromgren, Bill Venman, Jim Walker
Ruth Levine and Jacqueline McDowell co-heads; Lisa Abend, Lauren Broderick, Tom Broderick, Carlton Brose, Mimi Cary, Emily Hurn, Virna Johnson, Barbara Kasper, Matt Kimmel, Anah Klate, Byron Koh, Elysse Link, John McDowell, Mark Parsons, Linda Stark Patterson, Judi Pierce, Eileen Rannenberg, Delona Roth, Emmajoy Shulman-Kumin, Elizabeth H. Verrill, Kaye Werner, Gwen Whelan
Kinard Montgomery, master electrician; John McDowell, asst. master electrician; Phil DePeri, Dereck Kalish, Matt Kimmel, Jim Walker, Josh Weil
Marese Dolan Hutchinson, head; Russ Ekstrom, John Foster, Kathy Moser, Judy Pistrang, Sally Venman, Elaine Walker
Catherine Bennett, Kenneth Forfia, Glen Gordon, Cindy Naughton, Kathy Moser

Front of House

Kurtiss Gordon and Louise Krieger, co-heads; Cami Elbow, Paul E. Peelle
Amherst Leisure Services, Inc., Heather DesChamps, Laurel Kushi, Carol Maxwell, Theresa Mensah, Sharon Pinkney, Steve Stoia
Judi Pierce
Jacqueline McDowell
Sara Bozorg, Margaret Butterfield, Adam Campbell-Strauss, Bree Delman, Ingrid Frau, Meghan Greeley, Joan Gross, Amy Hamel, Krystyna Jaworoska, Laurel Killough, Rachel Kuc, Amy Kwan, Sally Lawton, Diana Lemly, Emma Lieber, Julie McNiven, Abbie Mew, Christina Monte, Debbie Mullins, Rob Noyes, Sali Okulski, David Pistrang, Beth Reisman, Matthew Riddle, Janine Rosen, Janet Ross, Karen Shoffner, Emily Starkweather, Emily Swartz, Lora Swartz, Sallie Swartz, Chris Walker-Ray, Sharon Wells, Karen Zilliox
David Aronow and Teresa M. Walker-Ray
Sarah Pearl Aronow-Werner, Kate Campbell-Strauss, Alecia Chakour, Charlotte DeVries, Paul DeVries, Margot Isman, Faith Killough, Benjamin Mew, Colin Mew, Kelly Morgan, Artemis Roehrig, Sarah Rothenberg, Amira Shulman-Kumin, Emmajoy Shulman-Kumin, Marie Thompson, Michelle Thompson, Ariane Tuominen, Theresa Walker-Ray, Nick Wells
Deborah Campbell
Mimi Cary, head; Kathy Moser, Paul E. Peelle, Jim Walker
Amherst Regional High School Theatre Company

Who's Who On Stage

Stephen Curylo -- The Mikado -- performs a varied repertoire and has appeared frequently on concert and oratorio stages throughout southern New England since 1971. VLO audiences have heard Stephen as The Counsel in Trial by Jury, as Pooh-Bah in the 1987 production of The Mikado, as Sir Marmaduke in The Sorcerer, and as a participant in the 15th Anniversary Concert. He portrayed Tevye in Arena Civic Theater's production of Fiddler on the Roof last spring to sold-out houses and critical acclaim; he has also sung with New York Gilbert and Sullivan Players, Commonwealth Opera, Victory Players, Connecticut Opera, Greater New Britain Opera, Connecticut Gilbert and Sullivan Society and at the Boston Early Music Festival. He conducts private voice lessons and has been heard as a classical music announcer on WFCR.

Joseph Donohue -- Pooh-Bah -- is singing Pooh-Bah for the third time, and the second with Valley Light Opera. Previous VLO audiences have seen him as both Captain Corcoran and Dick Deadeye in H.M.S. Pinafore (not, however, simultaneously), Lord Mountararat in Iolanthe, Wilfred Shadbolt (twice) in The Yeomen of the Guard, King Gama in Princess Ida, Dr. Daly in The Sorcerer, Rudolph the Grand Duke in The Grand Duke, and Sergeant Bouncer in Sullivan and Burnand's Cox and Box. He staged VLO's The Pirates of Penzance in 1979. He teaches dramatic literature in the University of Massachusetts English Department and writes frequently about nineteenth-century theatrical subjects.

Jim Ellis -- Ko-Ko -- has directed and performed in Gilbert and Sullivan since his undergraduate days at Oberlin College in the 1950s. His college teaching and scholarship have focused on drama, particularly of the nineteenth century, and he has published an edition of W. S. Gilbert's comic poems The Bab Ballads available through Harvard University Press. Over the years, Jim has directed nine productions for VLO, including Orpheus in the Underworld, which he also translated from the French, and has appeared recently as Sir Joseph Porter in H.M.S. Pinafore, King Gama in Princess Ida, and, this summer, Gremio in the Hampshire Shakespeare Company's The Taming of the Shrew. He also directed the last four productions of Welcome, Yule! in Turners Falls.

Louise Krieger -- Pitti-Sing -- is in her (lucky) 13th season with VLO. Over the years, she has had the pleasure of portraying some of G&S's relatively unsung heroines -- Princess Zara in Utopia, Limited, Julia Jellicoe in The Grand Duke, and Nicemis in Thespis. Louise has also performed in a variety of summer repertory, cabaret and dinner theater, and community theater venues, most recently with The Country Players as Abigail Adams in 1776. She holds a Master of Arts in Music and studies voice with Adrienne Auerswald of Northampton. Louise has been a guest artist with the Hampshire Choral Society and the Holyoke Civic Symphony and has been the soprano soloist in VLO's Messiah sing for the past three years. Off-stage, Louise is the Assistant Director of Advancement and External Affairs at the Smith College School for Social Work.

Robert Kumin -- Pish-Tush -- marks his first production with VLO. He has been singing in community choruses, most recently in Amandla, for the past 10 years. He is a classically-trained violinist; his first experience with Gilbert and Sullivan was in the orchestra pit for H.M.S. Pinafore. Bob was a professional actor in Theater Workshop Boston for six years and taught theater to high-school students in the Greater Boston Metropolitan Area before moving to western Massachusetts in 1985. He played the role of the father in Neil Simon's Plaza Suite and Watson in the musical Lady Dither's Ghost as part of the Westmoreland (NH) summer theater company. Bob was a school principal for six years and currently earns his living as a union representative for Local 285, Service Employees International Union. He thanks his two daughters, ages 8 and 12, and his wife Amy for their unending love and support.

John Meredith -- Nanki-Poo -- is appearing in his second production with VLO. John has appeared in leading roles in numerous productions, including Hilarion in last year's Princess Ida. John is a research associate in Neuroscience at the University of Massachusetts. He sings with the Wesley United Methodist Church Choir on Sunday mornings.

Kathleen Meredith -- Katisha -- is appearing in her first VLO performance. Her stage credits include Fräulein Schneider in Cabaret, Domina in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, the Fairy Queen in Iolanthe, Ruth in The Pirates of Penzance, and Phoebe in The Yeomen of the Guard. She holds degrees in vocal performance and English literature from Oberlin College and Conservatory of Music, where she met her husband, John. They have a daughter, Rebekah, who is almost 4. Kathleen has appeared as a mezzo-soprano soloist and member of the William Ferris Chorale and the Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Sanctuary Choir in Chicago. She currently sings in the Wesley United Methodist Church Choir in Amherst. To support her musical habit, Kathleen is office manager of the Greenfield Community College Foundation, a non-profit fundraising organization.

Julie M. Poole -- Yum-Yum -- happily returns to the VLO stage. You may remember her performance last year in the title role of Princess Ida. This time around, Julie is doing double duty, singing on-stage as well as serving as Assistant Music Director -- something she has greatly enjoyed doing. Yum-Yum is the latest addition to Julie's growing list of G&S heroines. With VLO, she has sung Gianetta in The Gondoliers and Mabel in The Pirates of Penzance, as well as Princess Ida. Down in Connecticut, Julie has performed with the Simsbury Light Opera Company as Aline in The Sorcerer, Josephine in H.M.S. Pinafore, Lady Psyche in Princess Ida, and Casilda in The Gondoliers. Over the years, she has appeared with Connecticut Opera, the Torrington Symphony Orchestra, the Greater Hartford Opera Ensemble, and in various solo concerts. On Sundays, she can be heard at St. John's Episcopal Church in West Hartford. This spring, Julie will sing the role of Valencienne in The Merry Widow with the Simsbury Light Opera Company. Joshua, this is for you.

Sue Wiggin -- Peep-Bo -- first appeared in VLO's production of The Pirates of Penzance in 1989, and has since performed with the troupe as Vittoria in The Gondoliers and as Ruth in Ruddigore. President and creative director of Wiggin & Co., a Northampton-based advertising and graphic design firm, Sue can be heard singing as Mrs. Claus in Northampton's annual Holiday Stroll and on the radio airwaves from Vermont to Arkansas on professional advertising jingle recordings. As a member of the Northampton Arts Council, Sue helps produce the annual Silver Chord Bowl, a northeastern collegiate a cappella competition. She studies vocal jazz with Ann Louise White of Amherst.

About the Directors

Russ Ekstrom -- Stage Director -- was seen in VLO's H.M.S. Pinafore (1993) and Princess Ida (1995), but is no stranger to directing. For The Country Players of Northfield (TCP), he co-directed 1776 this past summer, as well as directing The Dining Room and TCP's 1994 and 1995 entries in the Community Theatre Association Drama Festival. Other behind-the-scenes credits include stage managing, set design, set decoration, lighting, sound, props, and publicity, and two years as vice president of TCP's Board of Directors. He is currently the Inter-Group Coordinator for the Board of the Community Theatre Association of Western Massachusetts. He has also worked professionally with the Arizona Theatre Company, the Phoenix Summer Children's Theatre, and the Arizona Opera. A Chicago-area native, Russ was raised in Scottsdale, AZ, and currently divides his time between Greenfield and Manhattan, where he will soon be settling full-time and serving a production internship with the New York Theatre Workshop.

David Kidwell -- Music Director and Conductor -- began playing violin with the VLO orchestra in 1991, moved up to principal accompanist in 1994, and became music director in 1995. David is organist and choir director at First Park Memorial Baptist Church in Springfield, assistant conductor of the Pioneer Valley Symphony, and is on the music faculty at the Eaglebrook School. He has been involved in many local theater productions, including The Pirates of Penzance, Follies 1996, Damn Yankees, and Snoopy in the past year. David has studied conducting at Tanglewood with Seiji Ozawa and Andre Previn. He holds a bachelor's degree in music from Mary Washington College and a master's degree in composition from the Hartt School of Music.

Who's Who Off Stage

Bob Graham -- Producer and Technical Director -- returns for his sixth consecutive year with VLO as technical director and fifth as producer. A central Michigan native, he began his theatrical career early as the production assistant to the Faculty Producer/Director of the University of Michigan Student Players, as well as stage managing the group's Volpone and Brigadoon. Bob was also active on both sides of the stage with the Ernie Pyle Players in Tokyo while there with the U. S. Army, including playing The Monk in The Lady's Not for Burning. He is a UMass Emeritus Professor of Computer Science.

Richard Gregory -- Costume Designer -- joins us for his eleventh VLO production. Beginning in 1985, he designed costumes for Utopia, Ltd. (which he also directed), The Mikado, The Sorcerer, The Pirates of Penzance, The Yeomen of the Guard, Thespis, Ruddigore, The Gondoliers, H.M.S. Pinafore, and Princess Ida (for which he also designed the scenery). Dick has also been on the boards as Cupid in Thespis and the Duke of Plaza Toro in The Gondoliers. He is currently also designing for Commonwealth Opera (sets and costumes for Cinderella). He has also designed for ECTA, Victory Players, and The Williston Theatre, for which he will be directing in the spring. A teacher of arts history at Williston-Northampton School, Dick has composed several operas and many choral works.

Timothy Holcomb -- Scenic Designer -- has designed sets locally for Hampshire Shakespeare Company, Amherst Community Theater and the University of Massachusetts. Other scenic credits include the Maine State Music Theater, Brunswick; the Vineyard Playhouse, Martha's Vineyard; the Walnut Street Theater, Philadelphia; the Alliance Theater, Atlanta; and the New York Shakespeare Festival. Also an actor and director, his credits include the role of Jamie Frame on NBC's Another World. He is a founding member and Artistic Director of the Hampshire Shakespeare Company, which produces the theatrical works of another British playwright whose genius is exceeded only by G&S. He sang with the New York Gilbert and Sullivan Players at Symphony Space for two years. He lives in Amherst with his wife Christine and two daughters, Olivia and Jane.

Matt Kimmel -- Stage Manager -- identifies with the character of Pooh-Bah, since the Stage Manager often ends up in the role of "Lord High Everything Else." Be that as it may, Matt is delighted to be stage managing one of his favorite shows and to be in his third year with VLO. In real life, Matt is undermining the productivity of UMass by providing its employees with Internet connections. Matt will be directing VLO's 1997 spring show, The Foundling; or, A Basket of Ham.

Jacqueline McDowell -- Associate Producer -- is lucky enough to work in theater full time: as operations manager for The Mystery Theatre, which performs comedy murder mystery dinner theater around the country, and in various capacities with Hampshire Shakespeare Company, Arena Civic Theatre, and Amherst Leisure Services Community Theater. Her next projects are to be Production Manager for The Sound of Music and Producer for VLO's upcoming parody The Foundling; or, A Basket of Ham.

Steve Morgan -- Producer -- has been peripherally or totally involved with the VLO since the company's third production, The Mikado, in 1977. He has been seen on stage with VLO in such roles as Roddy Doddy in the 1982 Ruddigore and Arac in the 1981 Princess Ida. Other local community theater roles include Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof, Harold Hill in The Music Man, Emile deBecque in South Pacific, and the title role in Donizetti's Don Pasquale. He has done much of the labor on the physical improvements to the ARHS stage that have happened over the last 20 years. Steve's spring and summer were spent with the Hampshire Shakespeare Company as its production stage manager, technical director, and, on stage, as Christopher Sly and Vincentio in The Taming of the Shrew

Kathy Moser -- Assistant Music Director -- is in her seventeenth season with VLO. She started off with a small principal role in the 1980 production of The Gondoliers and has been either a chorus member or a principal in every subsequent show. Kathy's first stint as Assistant Music Director came in 1992, with VLO's second production of The Gondoliers. She also works on props, costumes, and a variety of other tasks for the company. Kathy teaches vocal music at Frontier Regional High School in South Deerfield.

Linda Stark Patterson -- Producer and Make-up Designer -- returns for her third year with VLO, having designed make-up for the last two VLO productions. Linda studied fine art and received a degree in interior design at the University of Connecticut. She also studied painting in Italy and watercolor in New York, under the instruction of two well-known American artists, Sondra Frectleton and Jack Beal. Linda has lived in Amherst for 25 years. She is the mother of four and a grandmother. She has her own cake decorating business and works as a floral designer. Linda is currently studying pastry arts at Johnson and Wales University in Providence.

Jonathan Polgar -- Lighting Designer -- has designed, acted, directed, choreographed and produced theater in numerous educational and professional venues in western Massachusetts and New York City. He was seen this past summer in the Hampshire Shakespeare Festival's productions of King Lear and The Taming of the Shrew. Jonathan is a resident designer at the Jean Cocteau Repertory in New York City and is the Artistic Director and founder of Galatea, which recently produced The Husband Plays by G. B. Shaw and Ashley Smith. Galatea will also be producing Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot this February in Easthampton. He would like to thank his wife, Deborah Evans, for her continuing support.

Joanne Tebaldi -- Choreographer -- has performed as a professional dancer and member of The Crescent Dancers since 1985. Under the stage name Shifáh, her troupe and solo appearances include The Springfield Museum of Fine Arts, the Hartford Opera Company's production of Aida, the Iron Horse Coffeehouse in Northampton, appearances with Middle Eastern bands, and several Persian and Egyptian wedding parties (balancing a candelabrum on her head). Shifáh has studied with both nationally- and internationally-known choreographers from as far away as California and Egypt. She teaches Orientale style and folkloric belly dance for Greenfield Community College and Amherst Leverett Dance. Her travels have taken her to both Turkey and Egypt. Shifáh was awarded the Advocate Best of the Valley Readers' Poll for Best Dancer in 1994. She is also a graphic artist, designing various promotional materials -- including VLO's posters, tee-shirts, and programs since 1987.

Elaine Walker -- Producer -- has sung soprano in the VLO chorus for many years and served as co-head of the costume crew every year since 1988. This is Elaine's third year as producer with VLO, and she co-founded and produced several musical shows with the St. Brigid Players in Amherst. She also supervises the costume shop for the Theater Program at Hampshire College. Elaine is self-employed as a dressmaker in Amherst.

Notes from the Director

The Mikado was by far the most successful of the Savoy operas, opening on March 14, 1885, and running for 672 performances. But at times it seemed The Mikado, like all of Gilbert & Sullivan's other works, would never make it to the stage. Already, the uneasy partnership between William S. Gilbert and Sir Arthur Sullivan had reached the point where Sullivan (perhaps prompted by his recent knighthood for "serious" music) no longer wished to continue the collaboration. (I often wonder if Rupert D'Oyly Carte felt as much like a playground monitor at recess as he did a producer.)

And, even after the partnership was salvaged and collaboration was underway, The Mikado unfolded with twists at every turn. Going into rehearsals without a finished book or score, the Savoy company was continually being thrown scenes at the last minute--songs were moved, cut, and reinstated, and even a new character was added after the play had opened. Probably more than any of their other works, The Mikado owes its existence to the indefatigable spirit of ensemble that characterized all of the Savoy productions. And I am delighted to report that this same spirit reverberates throughout VLO's talented, dedicated, and delightful cast and crew.

The appeal of The Mikado--both then and now--lies less in plot than in setting and character. By setting the play in Imperial Japan, the authors were capitalizing on a fascination for the Orient which was all the rage in Victorian England. But while the setting may have seemed exotic, Gilbert rarely let the text stray too far to the East. His commentary, both social and political, was very much aimed westward.

A century later, as America bears (bores?) toward another presidential election, I am struck by how timeless the show remains. The story of young love is always universal, but the parallel story line of government officials attempting to undermine and thwart each other could just as easily have been written about 20th century America. Bribery, sexual scandal, and abuse of power (alas!) appear to be historical constants. A Mikado who claims his main objective is "to make the punishment fit the crime," but declares flirting a capital offense may sound ridiculous, but also--somehow--familiar. And the societal implications of enacting unenforceable laws are not pursued in the script, but simply flitted through for our observation. Of course, this is Gilbert and Sullivan, so things turn out quite all right in the end. And in real life ... Well, it could happen!

--Russ Ekstrom

Historical Sketch

The story goes that a samurai sword falling in Gilbert's study inspired him to write The Mikado. The very existence of such a sword might be more to the point, so to speak, for the 1880's was a decade when many people, including English aesthetes and French impressionists, were fascinated by "all one sees that's Japanese." A newly opened Japanese exhibition in Knightsbridge, with model village and real villagers, figured directly in Gilbert's design, for he invited some of the residents to instruct the Savoy company in the manipulation of fans and in the shuffling walk and hissing laugh of the ladies.

Opening night, while an indisputable triumph, brought more than the usual number of vicissitudes. Gilbert wanted to cut the Mikado's song "My Object All Sublime," but was dissuaded at the last moment by the men's chorus. Sullivan, who conducted only on opening nights, recorded in his diary that the nervousness of Grossmith, playing Ko-Ko, "nearly upset the piece." "I lost my voice," Grossmith confessed, "the little there is of it, my confidence, and . . . my individuality," but once he found his legs and kicked up his heels all went well. The two numbers most encored--"Three Little Maids from School" and "The Flowers that Bloom in the Spring"--were the ones Sullivan had scored most rapidly, each in less than a day. Leonora Braham, Yum-Yum, found herself too winded to sing her sun and moon solo in Act I right after the cavortings of the little maids with Pooh-Bah, so Gilbert shifted it to Act II. Early libretti, caught in the confusion, print the song in both acts.

With no known source, The Mikado has a special claim to Gilbert's invariable designation "new and original." Even his early comic verse, the "Bab Ballads," provided him with little more than a tremendous swell by the name of Pish-Tush-Pooh-Bah and a general delight in bloodthirstiness. Through contemporary eyes, the opera must have appeared as a scene from a willow-ware plate animated with the elaborate fancy and hovering sadism of a Christmas pantomime. Gilbert may have revealed more than he intended when he insisted, at the Lord Chamberlain's attempted prohibition of the opera during a Japanese state visit in 1907, that his emperor "had no more actuality than a pantomime king." Pantomime kings, like Japanese emperors, depended upon the beauty and pageantry of court etiquette, but beneath this show of innocent merriment lurked something lingering, like boiling oil, or flickering, like a snickersnee.

--Jim Ellis


Valley Light Opera expresses thanks to the following for helping to make this production possible: the Amherst-Pelham Regional Schools' staff for their good nature and willingness to allow us the use of their facilities, equipment, and storage space; Jim MacRostie and the Fine Arts Center staff for technical help of all kinds; James Pistrang Computer Resources for continued upgrading of the custom ticket-management software he designed for us some years ago; Robert A. Vincent and the David Clark Company of Worcester for making it possible, through generous discounts and gifts, for VLO to acquire the marvelous communication system now used in the school; The Common School for allowing us use of their large room during the one night when there was no room in either of our normal rehearsal spaces; the Hampshire College Theater Program for a weighty solution to one of our costume problems; Karen Atherton of the Frontier Regional High School for the loan of our second trombone; Emily Hurn for the loan of books of Japanese designs; and to Sally and Bill Venman for caring for the VLO year-round and always being there when we sought advice.

Valley Light Opera, Inc.

Valley Light Opera, Inc., is a nonprofit Massachusetts corporation founded in 1975 by a group of Gilbert and Sullivan devotees. As a community group, VLO promotes broad participation and produces fine entertainment. Over the years, Valley Light Opera has produced all fourteen of the G&S operas as well as Cox and Box, The Zoo, and Sullivan's oratorio The Prodigal Son. In addition, VLO has performed Jacques Offenbach's Orpheus in the Underworld, John Philip Sousa's El Capitan and Warren Martin's The True Story of Cinderella.

The affairs of VLO are in the hands of a Board of Directors elected by the membership at the Annual Meeting in February. Officers of the Board this year are Dick Stromgren (President), Geert DeVries (Vice-President), Anne Westdyke (Clerk), Sudro Brown (Treasurer), James Walker (Asst. Treasurer), and Miriam Jenkins (Past President). Members of the Board are Catherine Bennett, Esta Busi, Barbara Davis, Glen Gordon, Bob Graham, Peter Hirschman, Marese Dolan Hutchinson, Mzamo P. Mangaliso, and Judy Pistrang.

Donations to Valley Light Opera are tax deductible to the extent permitted by law.

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