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Concert Program Cover

Fourth Concert of the 75th Season

The Mikado

May 2-4, 2014
Cordier Auditorium
Debra Lynn, Director
Scott Humphries, Conductor

  Act I  
  Overture Manchester Symphony Orchestra  
  "If you want to know who we are" Men of the Chorus  
  "A wand'ring minstrel I" Nanki-Poo & Men of the Chorus  
  "Our great Mikado, virtuous man" Pish-Tush & Men of the Chorus  
  "Young man, despair" Pooh-Bah, Nanki-Poo & Pish-Tush  
  "Behold the Lord High Executioner" Ko-Ko & Men of the Chorus  
  "As some day it may happen" Ko-Ko & Men of the Chorus  
  "Comes a train of little ladies" Girls of the Chorus  
  "Three little maids from school are we" Yum-Yum, Peep-Bo, Pitti-Sing & Girls  
  "So please you, Sir we much regret" Yum-Yum, Peep-Bo, Pitti-Sing, Pooh-Bah & Girls  
  "Were you not to Ko-Ko plighted" Yum-Yum & Nanki-Poo  
  "I am so proud" Pooh-Bah, Ko-Ko & Pish-Tush  
  "With aspect stern and gloomy stride" Katisha & Ensemble  
  Act II  
  "Braid the raven hair" Pitti-Sing & Girls  
  "The sun, whose rays are all ablaze" Yum-Yum  
  "Brightly dawns our wedding day" Yum-Yum, Pitti-Sing, Nanki-Poo & Pish-Tush  
  "Here's how-de-do!" Yum-Yum, Nanki-Poo & Ko-Ko  
  "Mi-ya sa-ma" Mikado, Katisha & Chorus  
  "A more humane Mikado" Mikado & Chorus  
  "The criminal cried as he dropped him down" Ko-Ko, Pitti-Sing, Pooh-Bah & Chorus  
  "See how the Fates their gifts a lot" Mikado, Pitti-Sing, Pooh-Bah, Ko-Ko & Katisha  
  "The flowers that bloom in the spring" Nanki-Poo, Ko-Ko, Yum-Yum, Pitti-Sing & Pooh-Bah  
  "Alone, and yet alive!" Katisha  
  "Willow, tit-willow" Ko-Ko  
  "There is beauty in the bellow of the blast" Katisha & Ko-Ko  
  "For he's gone and married Yum-Yum" Ensemble  

Program Notes by James R. C. Adams

  Libretto by W.S. Gilbert (1836-1911)
Music by Sir Arthur Sullivan (1842-1900)

Many countries have their own terms to describe what the British refer to as Operetta. The Germans call it Singspiel, the Spanish call it Zarzuela, the French call it Opera Comique, the Italians call it Opera Buffa, and the Americans call it a Musical.

Among famous composers who have worked in that genre are Bizet, Mozart, Rossini, and of course the duos Rogers and Hammerstein, Learner and Lowe, Bernstein and Sondheim. But probably the best known collaborators in operetta, known to the English-speaking world, and certainly the pair with the longest list of works, is that of W.S. Gilbert and Sir Arthur Sullivan. They produced no fewer than fourteen operettas during their well over two decades of partnership. Their most popular operettas are H.M.S. Pinafore, The Pirates of Penzance, and The Mikado. With this production, all three of these works have been performed on the stage of Cordier Auditorium.

Gilbert was born into an artistic family. Although his father's profession was as a Naval surgeon, he became a successful novelist whose works were illustrated by his very talented son. Later, Gilbert became a playwright and producer who did much to restore the health of the London stage. Gilbert was a satirist, focusing on what he considered to be the less than admirable qualities of British society: the inequality of the class-system, the arrogance and superiority of the empire-builders, and the xenophobia of the British in general ("The Wogs begin at Calais!"). In his plots, he exaggerated all of these characteristics in order to make fun of them. In The Mikado, he endows the "Japanese" with all the idiotic foibles of British society in such a way that his criticism of Britain was disguised. His audiences were persuaded to laugh at themselves, while thinking that they were laughing at a very different society.

His collaborator, the composer Sir Arthur Sullivan, was a perfect match for Gilbert. As Gilbert took absurd plots and carried them to hilariously unexpected conclusions, Sullivan wrote music which ranged from dopey patter-songs to beautiful melodies. In addition to the operettas he wrote for Gilbert's words, Sullivan wrote a great deal of music unrelated to humor, including a symphony, a cello concerto, and the hymn Onward Christian Soldiers. He was something of a child prodigy. At the age of eight, he had mastered all the instruments of a military band (his father was a band-master).

When Sullivan was knighted by Queen Victoria, he started to take his music more seriously, and began to think that comic opera was beneath him. He was encouraged in this thought by the London critics, and the result was a series of rifts between the two collaborators. I say a "series" of rifts because the continued success of theie operettas, and the urging of their business partners, they had frequent reconciliations. But they eventually did fall out and stopped even speaking to each other. In spite of that, at the death of Sullivan in 1900, Gilbert delivered a heartfelt and moving eulogy.

Of their many productions, The Mikado was the most successful, although it had its own problems. Britain then (and, perhaps to a certain extent, still) was a very self-satisfied society, with dominion over the world. It was a rare Briton who was concerned about offending foreigners with rude references to them. One of the funniest patter songs in The Mikado, "I've Got a Little List," is about "society offenders who might well be underground." Among those who "never would be missed" are "children who are up in dates, and floor you with 'em flat, all persons who in shaking hands, shake hands with you like that--." There follows a whole list of people who would not be missed. Unfortunately, there is a line that is very offensive these days, resulting in its removal in many cases. The 1982 Laserdisc recording, starring William Conrad, Clive Revill, John Stewart, and Kate Flowers, provides the song, but alters the lyrics. The 1939 film production by D'Oyly Carte with Kenny Baker includes the song with the offending lyrics, but the much later release on DVD omits it altogether. To place purists, the song is included as an extra. For some time now, productions of The Mikado have used modified lyrics so that the otherwise funny song can be enjoyed without embarrassment.

In 1922, Sir Henry Wood explained the enduring success of the collaboration as follows:

Sullivan has never had an equal for brightness and drollery, for humour without coarseness and without vulgarity, and for charm and grace. His orchestration is delightful: he wrote with full understanding of every orchestral voice. Above all, his music is perfectly appropriate to the words of which it is the setting... He found the right, the only cadences to fit Gilbert's happy and original rhythms, and to match Gilbert's fun or to throw Gilbert's frequent irony, pointed although not savage, into relief. Sullivan's music is much more than accompaniment of Gilbert's libretti, just as Gilbert's libretti are far more than words to Sullivan's music. We have two masters who are playing a concerto. Neither is subordinate to the other; each gives what is original, but the two, while neither predominates, are in perfect correspondence. This rare harmony of words and music is what makes these operas entirely unique. They are the work not of a musician and his librettist nor of a poet and one who sets his words to music, but of two geniuses.

Ejenobo (Jena) Oke, of the Art Department, provided me with the following comments regarding the elaborate sets:

Matt Unger and Derrick Golden are the masterminds who have "interpreted" director Robert Bucher and Professor Debra Lynn's vision for the pagoda. In the early planning stages, I worked with them briefly as we discussed how large, what kind of impression they wanted to create, how functional the pagoda had to be, etc., but the actual engineering behind the pagoda (and, indeed, the whole set) is Matt and Derrick's genius. I did little details like the curvy, pointy edges, and painting. Jeff Diesburg and I worked on the screens. I followed his directions on the painting style for them.

Matt and Derrick made the 2x4 frame for the tree, and as I attached the chicken wire, we built in handles for lifting, because we knew we would have to move it several times. In addition to chicken wire, plaster cloth, and paint, the branches of the tree are actual branches from around campus... sticks, vines, that I picked up walking across campus to Cordier. The 'tree' contains sixteen hundred made-to-order cherry blossoms.

  Plot Synopsis  

Act I

The show opens in the town of Titipu where the chorus of nobles are joined by Nanki-Poo, disguised as a second trombone, who is looking for Yum-Yum, the ward of Ko-Ko. A noble lord named Pish-Tush asks what Nanki-Poo's business is with Yum-Yum, and learns that the minstrel had seen the girl a year ago when he was a member of the town band, and they had fallen in love. But Yum-Yum was betrothed to her guardian Ko-Ko, 'a cheap tailor.'

However, on learning that Ko-Ko was condemned to death for flirting, the minstrel has hurried back to try to claim Yum-Yum. Unfortunately, on his return he finds that, far from being dead, Ko-Ko has in fact been let out on bail, and appointed Lord High Executioner. There is worse to come as Pooh-Bah, who holds every major office of state, informs Nanko-Poo that Yum-Yum and Ko-Ko are to be married that very day.

Yum-Yum and her sisters, Pitti-Sing and Peep-Bo, appear with their schoolfellows. When Yum-Yum finally catches sight of Nanki-Poo he reveals that he is the son of the Mikado, and when they are alone, she admits she does not love her guardian. The two lovers realise that their cause is hopeless, and Yum-Yum leaves Nanki-Poo, who then tries to kill himself. Meanwhile, Ko-Ko has received a letter from the Mikado, who threatens to abolish the post of Lord High Executioner and reduce Titipu to the rank of a village unless a beheading takes place within a month. On seeing Nanki-Poo about to 'terminate an unendurable existence,' Ko-Ko points out that suicide is a capital offence, and offers to do the job professionally.

Nanki-Poo agrees, on the condition that he can marry Yum-Yum and enjoy one month of married life before he is beheaded. After the execution, Ko-Ko will then be able to marry the widowed Yum-Yum. Amidst the celebrations, in storms Katisha, having tracked down the object of her affections, Nanki-Poo, and threatens to reveal his true identity. She is outshouted by a chorus of Japanese syllables: "O ni! bikkuri shakkuri to!" (one of the many possible translations of which is "So surprised, we hiccup! Bah!"). But the town dwellers are not to be deterred and 'joy reigns everywhere around.'

End Act I

Act II

Act two opens with Yum-Yum being prepared for her wedding. But soon the awful fact is out that under the Mikado's law the widow of a beheaded man must be buried alive. This places Nanki-Poo in a dilemma: If he holds Yum-Yum to this marriage, she dies a hideous death, and if he releases her she must marry Ko-Ko at once. The marriage is off, and Nanki-Poo determines to do away with himself that afternoon unless Ko-Ko will kill him at once.

But, it turns out that Ko-Ko can't kill anything. To make matters worse, the Mikado and his suite are approaching the town and will arrive in ten minutes. In desperation Ko-Ko arranges to draw up an affidavit of Nanki-Poo's execution.

The Mikado arrives with Katisha who makes much of being his daughter-in-law elect. When Ko-Ko presents his certificate of exucution, the Mikado reads it and says, 'My poor fellow, in your anxiety to carry out my wishes you have beheaded the heir to the throne of Japan!' Ko-Ko and Pooh-Bah find Nanki-Poo and beg him to present himself, alive, to his father, thereby absolving them of his death. But Nanki-Poo, now married to Yum-Yum, is afraid of Katisha's wrath.

Unless Ko-Ko will agree to marry the old hag himself, he and Yum-Yum will leave on their honeymoon at once. Katisha, meanwhile, is mourning the death of Nanki-Poo, and when Ko-Ko tries to woo her, she is at first reluctant, but he wins the formidable lady with a pack of flattering lies and a sad, love-lorn song.

Katisha adds her powerful pleas to the Mikado for everyone to be pardoned. The Mikado, a bit bewildered by it all, nonetheless pronounces that 'Nothing could possibly be more satisfactory!'

End Act II

- from the Gilbert and Sullivan Archives
by Andrew Lister, University of Warwick, Gilbert and Sullivan Society


Illustrious Members of the Cast

  The Mikado of Japan Tarek Al-Zoughbi  

Adam Ousley
  Son of the Mikado, disguised as a wandering minstrel, and in love with Yum-Yum  

Andrew Haff
  An accent-less Canadian, raised to the exalted rank of Lord High Executioner  

Bennett Ritchie
  Lord High Everything Else    

Michael Rueff
  A Noble Lord    

Erika Reffitt
Katherine Haff
Caitline Kessler
  Three sisters, wards of Ko-Ko  
Pooh-Bah's Lackey

Jeremy Nevil
Chorus of School-Girls, Nobles, Guards, and Coolies
Leslie Butterbaugh
Emily Lynn
Lauren Millspaugh
Ayla Rosen
Chloe Steele

Robert Bucher
Paul Fry-Miller
Mark Huntington

Megan Bucher
Beverly Eikenberry
Julie Garber
Lauren Myers
RaeAnne Schoeffler

Joshua Dold
Grant Ebert
Michael Slavkin
Ninja Guard

Bridgett Labuda

Manchester Symphony Orchestra Personnel

  Violin I
Elizabeth Smith, Concertmaster
Thomas Dean +^
Pablo Vasquez
Kristin Westover

Violin II
Joyce Dubach *
Rachel Nowak
Paula Merriman
Julie Sadler

Carrie Shank *+^
Renée Neher +^
Margaret Sklenar

Robert Lynn *
Jade Keane +^

Darrel Fiene *
Katie Huddleston +^

Kathy Davis *
Kathy Urbani

George Donner *
Lila D. Hammer *
Angela Ebert

Erich Zummack *

Kristen Hoffman *+^
Michael Paynter +^
Dana Dillon +^

Steven Hammer *
Mykayla Neilson +^

Jon Hartman *
Chris Hartman +^

Mackenzi Lowry +^
Katie Lowther +**

Tim Reed

* Denotes principal
+ Denotes MC student
^ Denotes Keister Scholarship recipient
** Denotes Assistant to the Conductor

Cast Member Bios

  (Members of the chorus were asked to create hyphenated names for themselves)  
  Tarek Al-ZoughbiTarek Al-ZoughbiTarek Al-Zoughbi, baritone (Mikado), was born in South Bend, Indiana, but has lived most of his life in Bethlehem, Palestine. He is currently a junior exonomics major at MU, where he participates in several organizations: Model UN, We Are Board (a board game club), Student Senate, and the Student Budget Board. Tarek is also very active in music and theater. He has performed the roles of Betto in Gianni Schicchi, Professor Lavender in Help, Help! The Globolinks!, Don Jon in Much Ado About Nothing, Pharoh in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, King Charlamaine in Pippin, and Reverend Shaw in Footloose. Tarek states: "To have been given the opportunity to play Mikado in The Mikado has been an amazing and very rewarding experience. My fellow cast members, directors, pianists, and musicians are all very talented and amazing - and the stage crew and light designers rock! I would like to thank my friends and family for their endless support. Dr. Lynn, also, for her guidance and willingness to always teach and push us no matter what challenges lay ahead. Dr. Deal and Majumder for being great Economics teachers and all other teachers who have inspired and taught me. Finally, I'd like to thank God for all his blessings!"  
Megan BucherMegan Bucher, mezzo-soprano (Meya-Teach -- chorister), was born and raised in Wabash County, but now resides in Huntington, Indiana. She is currently a substitute teacher. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education from MU. In addition to singing, Megan plays the flute. As a student of MU, Megan performed in productions of Pirates of Penzance and Die Fledermaus. She states: "Being in this show has given me the opportunity to sing again and be part of a fun cast. I've missed that since I graduated in 2011. I want to thank my husband, Robbie, for taking my love of music and broadening it by encouraging me to try new things. He has introduced me to different kinds of music and theater."
Robert BucherRobert Bucher, tenor (Boss-Dude -- chorister), is also serving as producer for this show. He has graciously accepted invitations from Debra Lynn to produce two previous shows as well, and each production has proven that they work well together. Robert is a sales associate for Perry ProTech and lives in Huntington, Indiana. In addition to singing, Robert plays tuba, baritone, and trombone. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management from MU. His most recent leading roles include: Robert Livingston in 1776 and Joseph in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Robert states: "I sing a lot of Barbershop harmony these days, and it is nice to be able to get back to my classical roots in this hilarious production. It has also been an enjoyable journey designing a set for a brand new production. Through college, my professor, the director of this show, Dr. Lynn, always pushed me to never stop learning and never stop singing. This still inspires me today. Thank you, Debra."
Leslie ButterbaudhLeslie Butterbaugh, soprano (Seksi-Poo -- chorister), is Corporate Development Officer for The Honeywell Foundation. She has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in communication and French from MU. Leslie is from Wabash, Indiana, and, having spent several years in Japan, has been particularly helpful in determining for the cast what parts of the show are true to Japanese culture, and which elements are drawn from the view of Victorian England regarding Japan during Gilbert and Sullivan's lifetimes. Leslie is returning to the MU opera workshop experience she enjoyed while a student, when she played the roles of La Ciesca in Gianni Schicchi and Lucretia in The Old Maid and the Thief.
Joshua DoldJoshua Dold, baritone (Joshi-Pooh -- chorister), has lived in Mountain View, California, and Monticello, Indiana. He is a first-year student at MU, majoring in communications and psychology. He is Vice President of the Garver hall council and a member of "Culture Shock" and the Psychology Society. He played Perchek in Fiddler on the Roof and Alonzo Beal in Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury. He has also been in productions of Beauty and the Beast, A Christmas Carol, Don't Drink the Water, The Newsies, and Oliver. Joshua was a late-comer to this production, agreeing to fill a spot vacated by another person. He says: "I have been very grateful to work with people so patient and kind to help me catch up and enjoy my first operetta." Joshua lists Bob Hinshaw, Nicky Tenkinson, Victoria Sailor, and Susan Willbanks as people who've inspired his acting and singing. "All helped me discover singing and acting in high school and for that I will always be grateful."
Grant EbertGrant Ebert, baritone (Whiney-San -- chorister), is a first-year music education major (instrumental and vocal) from Peru, Indiana. In addition to singing, Grant plays trumpet and piano. Grant says: "It is really exciting to see this opera unfold. As a music education major, this experience will be a useful guide. Yes, it is hard to get everyone in one place at the same time, but when everyone puts forth his or her best effort, it becomes something amazing. I am grateful to work with such a wonderful cast and crew. Thank you for coming and enjoy!"
Beverly EikenberryBeverly Eikenberry, contralto (Missy-Ditzy -- chorister), resides in North Manchester and is Education for Conflict Resolution Director at MU. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Education and Spanish. In addition to singing, Bev plays piano and flute. She played the undertaker's wife in Oliver previously. About this production, Bev says she is delighted to be acting on MU's stage for the first time since The King and I in 1968. "The Mikado has been lots of fun. Thanks to Debra Lynn who trusted that I could become a youth again!"
Paul Fry-MillerPaul Fry-Miller, tenor (Con-oobi -- chorister), may look familiar to you if you are a patient at the Parkview Physician's Group in North Manchester. He sees patients there as a Physician's Assistant. Paul was born in Chicago, Illinois, and graduated from MU with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology-Chemistry and Psychology. In addition to singing, Paul plays Dumbek, guitar, and hand percussion. He helped out at the local high school with a cameo appearance as Cowboy Bob in their recent production of Footloose. This is his first time to be in a full production, though. Paul was inspired by his day, "an operatic tenor in his day, who would have been mighty pleased to know I went for this."
Julie GarberJulie Garber, contralto (Petal-Toss -- chorister), is Program Director for the Community Foundation of Wabash County. She holds degrees in English (BA from Manchester University) and Theology (MA from Bethany Theological Seminary and University of Chicago). In addition to singing, Julie plays piano and participated in MU's 1968 production of The King and I as a fifth-grader. Julie states: "I'm inspired by the talent of students in the production. They are stretching me as an amateur singer. It's delightful to sing with them and make a rich sound. Thank you to my lovely parents who encouraged us to try instruments of all kinds and who sang religious music, played classical music, and popular music so we were practically bathed in music."
Andrew HaffAndrew HaffAndrew Haff, baritone (Ko-Ko, The Lord High Executioner), was born and raised in Westminster, Maryland. He holds a Bachelor's degree in History (from MU), and a Master of Arts degree in teaching. He now resides in North Manchester and teaches social studies for South Adams Community Schools. While a student at MU, Andrew played Captain Von Trapp in The Sound of Music and a policeman in The Pirates of Penzance. Andrew wants to thank his mother for inspiring his love for the stage. When asked about this production he states: "After three years of teaching, I am glad that I am finally able to devote some of my time to my other love: being the center of attention!"
Katherine Allen HaffKatherine Allen HaffKatherine Allen Haff, mezzo-soprano (Pitti-Sing), graduated from MU with a Bachelor of Arts in Accounting & Nonprofit Management, and she now serves as a Staff Accountant in the business office. In addition to singing, Katherine plays flute and piccolo. She was born and raised in Woodland, Michigan. She has been very active in theater -- most recently playing Sister Robert Anne in Nunsense, a lay sister in Suor Angelica, and Mrs. Newkirk in Help, Help! The Globolinks! Katherine says: "I'd like to thank my Dad for introducing me to Rogers and Hammerstein in addition to John Wayne, my Mom for her years of patience through dance and piano lessons, and my Sister for musical sing-alongs on the front porch. And especially my Husband for supporting me as we both balance work, life, the dog, and rehearsals. Being on stage with you is a dream come true."
Mark HuntingtonMark Huntington, tenor (Off-Put -- chorister), normally plays clarinet or bass clarinet with the MSO, but steps out of the pit to take on character roles during MSO/Music Dept. collaborations such as this. Mark serves as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Professor of Exercise and Sport Sciences at MU. He holds a BS in Biology, an MS in Physical Therapy, and a PED in Physical Education Administration. Dr. Huntington was born in Bremen, Indiana, but raised in New Britain, Connecticut. No stranger to the stage, his most recent lead roles have been Paul in To Gillian on her 37th Birthday, President Roosevelt in Annie, and Benjamin Franklin in 1776. Mark has really enjoyed working with students, colleagues, and fellow North Manchester residents on this production. He wishes to thank his parents for giving him opportunities in music when he was growing up.
Kelly IlerKelly IlerKelly Iler, mezzo-soprano (Katisha), is a senior vocal performance major from Kouts, Indiana. In addition to singing, she plays piano and all sorts of percussion instruments. She held two roles in last year's opera workshop Puccini productions: Zita in Gianni Schicchi and The Abbess in Suor Angelica. Kelly states: "I can only thank the beautiful and wonderful Debra Lynn for nudging me into acting and eventually helping me realize my passion for opera. Love you!"
Caitlin KesslerCaitlin KesslerCaitlin Kessler, soprano (Peep-Bo), is a senior biology-chemistry major at MU. She is from Kokomo, Indiana, and is very active on campus, serving as a student health assistant and members of Pre-Professionals of Science, American Chemical Society, and the Zumba Club. Caitlin has been on the stage since she was very young, but most recently held the title role in Puccini's Suor Angelica during last year's opera workshop. Caitlin says: "Being in this show has been a lot of fun and a great memory for my last semester here at Manchester! I have really enjoyed working with the entire cast! We have certainly shared a lot of laughs together! I want to thank my parents for always supporting me, from my first play at 8 years old until now! I also want to thank my grandma who would've loved this show!"
Emily LynnEmily Lynn, soprano (Birdie-Sing -- chorister), is a sophomore at Manchester Jr/Sr High School. In addition to singing, she plays violin (in the MSO, in fact) and piano. She is an avid runner and is a member of her school track & field team. Previous roles have included Hodel in Fiddler on the Roof, Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, Adelaide in Guys and Dolls, and Mama Euralie in Once on this Island. She also played Lauretta in MU's production of Puccini's Gianni Schicchi last year. Emily has this to say: "Considering I'd like to pursue opera as a career, this is a great opportunity and fun to sing something so challenging. After years of faking my way through reading music, my father kicked my butt until I could read music the way I read a book -- so I owe him a lot of thanks. I also want to thank my friend and cast-mate Lauren Myers for getting my into theatre years ago."
Lauren MillspaughLauren Millspaugh, sopraeno (Fain-Ting -- chorister), is an English Teacher at Wabash High School. She has played Mrs. Darling in WACT's production of Peter Pan and she wishes to thank her father for instilling a love of music in her. She also thanks her family for love and support.
Lauren MyersLauren Myers, mezzo-soprano (Smyli-Face -- chorister), is a sophomore at Manchester Jr/Sr High School. In addition to singing, she plays piano, clarinet, and cowbell. No stranger to the stage, she has held several roles, including: Fruma Sarah in Fiddler on the Roof, Brooke & Vicki in Noises Off, Adelaide in Guys and Dolls, and Erzuli in Once on this Island. She's also been in productions of Grease, The Wizard of Oz, Footloose, and Once Upon a Mattress. Lauren has enjoyed meeting new people during this opera workshop experience. She also wishes to thank Marilyn Mason for her instruction and the many opportunities to be in high school productions.
Jeremy NevilJeremy Nevil, baritone (Pee-Wee: Pooh-Bah's Lackey & chorister), lives in Wabash and is a student at Northfield Jr/Sr High School. He is planning to study music composition and production in college. In addition to singing, he enjoys playing guitar, drums, piano, and ukulele. This is Jeremy's second performance with Manchester University's Opera Workshop program. He played Dr. Spinelocchio in Gianni Schicchi during last year's performance. His roles in other productions have included The Wizard of Oz, Once Upon a Mattress, and You Can't Take it with You. Jeremy wants to thank Derek Sanders for inspiring him as a song-writer and singer. He also thanks Mr. Reginald for encouragement and support. About this show, Jeremy says: "I'm thrilled to be in a production with talented, hard-working people who make this experience wonderful, fun, and worthwhile."
Adam OusleyAdam OusleyAdam Ousley, tenor (Nanki-Poo), is a junior MU vocal performance major from Columbia City, Indiana. In addition to singing, he plays piano and guitar. Adam played the role of Rinuccio in last year's opera workshop production of Puccini's Gianni Schicchi. Roles with other organizations have included: Charlie Brown in Snoopy and La Fou in Beauty and the Beast. Adam says: "I'm so glad I got to work with so many amazing and talented people. I would like to thank my family and church for their constant support of me and my music."
Erike ReffittErike ReffittErika Reffitt, soprano (Yum-Yum), is a junior at MU, studying voice performance and psychology. In addition to singing, Erika plays clarinet in symphonic band. She was born in Rochester, Indiana, and draws inspiration from her idol, Gerard Way (from the band My Chemical Romance). No stranger to MU's opera workshop program, Erika previously played the roles of Sister Genevieve in Puccini's Suor Angelica and the Dew Fairy in Humperdinck's Hansel and Gretel. When asked about this production, Erika says: "This opportunity has really helped me to explore acting and how a whole show works. I've had so much fun!"
Bennett RitchieBennett RitchieBennett Ritchie, bass-baritone (Pooh-Bah), was born in Michigan and raised in Richmond, Indiana. He is a first-year art major at MU with minors in music and philosophy. In addition to singing, Bennett enjoys playing guitar and ukulele. Other principal roles in his repertoire have included Curly in Oklahoma, Rolfe in The Sound of Music, Felix in The Odd Couple, Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice, and Henry in Frankenstein. Bennett says this production has showed him a more professional and mature side of theater. When asked for a source of inspiration for this role, he says: "I would like to thank actor Tim Curry for being a bit genius, a bit English, and bit strange."
Ayla RosenAyla Rosen, soprano (Heady-Red -- chorister), was born in Andover, Minnesota, She now resides in North Manchester and is a sophomore at Manchester Jr/Sr High School. She recently played the roles of Belinda and Flavia in Noises Off. Ayla has also performed in Once Upon a Mattress and Fiddler on the Roof. Ayla comments: "It's been great to work with all of the talented MU students and people from around the community! This show has really helped me grow as both a singer and an actress. A HUGE thank you to Ms. Mason for encouraging me and constantly providing me with opportunities to sing and act. Also, thank you to Kelly Iler (Katisha) for giving me voice lessons. I've learned so much!"
Michael RueffMichael RueffMichael Rueff, bass (Pish-Rush), is a sophomore music major at MU and comes from Indianapolis. His primary instrument is cello, but he enjoyes singing and acting very much. He played Marco in last year's opera workshop production of Puccini's Gianni Schicchi. Michael says: "Thanks, Ryan Gosling, for being such a great actor."
RaeAnne SchoefflerRaeAnne Schoeffler, mezzo-soprano (Ihmi-Tate -- chorister), is a junior math major at MU. In addition to singing, she plays piano, guitar, and ukulele. She played The Monitor in last year's opera workshop production of Puccini's Suor Angelica. RaeAnne says: "Each production, group, or event that I get to sing in gives me more practice and improvement. The memories and bonds that are made stick with me forever." RaeAnne wishes to thank her Oma (grandmother) for always listening to German Opera when RaeAnne visted her house. Oma's dream was to be a singer, but illness prevented that path, so she inspired RaeAnne to take up any singing challenges she could find.
Michael SlavkinMichael Slavkin, baritone (Craney-Um -- chorister), is Director of Teacher Education at MU and is thrilled to serve in the chorus for The Mikado. Although many know him for his off-stage work frightening pre-service teachers in Indiana for the past 15 years, he has a side career as a mime and playing Professor Snape in off-off-off Broadway productions of Harry Potter. Born in Saint Louis, Missouri, to non-musical carnival folk, Slavkin first graced the stage as The Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland, followed by a stellar performance as Gus the Mouse in Cinderella. Scorned for his egregious errors in playing Ben the Fence Painter in Tom Sawyer, Slavkin never returned to the stage until this spring. He thanks his family for their support and encouragement.
Chloe SteeleChloe Steele, soprano (Puppy-Eyes -- chorister), is a sophomore at Manchester Jr/Sr High School. She participated in last year's MU opera workshop as a chorister in Suor Angelica. Other roles in high school have included Tzeitel in Fiddler on the Roof, Grandma Abernathy in Guys and Dolls, and Andrea in Once on this Island. Chloe says: "This opportunity has shown me what it is like to perform in a college-level show. I would like to thank Marilyn Mason for all the support she has given me over the years."