Published: July 1, 2013
Thomas Nelson Community College (TNCC) Performing Arts brings Gilbert and Sullivan’s “The Mikado” to the Hampton campus weekends July 12 — 21 at the Dr. Mary T. Christian Auditorium in Templin Hall. Show times are 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday.
Tickets are $15 general admission and $10 for students, seniors, military and TNCC personnel and are available at www.tncc.edu.
“The Mikado,” set in Japan, was inspired by Gilbert’s trip to Knightsbridge, a faux Japanese village in Victorian England. First performed in London in 1885, it remains one of the most popular musical theater productions of all time. The twisted tale of love, politics and crime revolves around Nanki-Poo, the son of the Mikado who disguises himself as a musician and leaves home to escape marriage; Yum-Yum, his new love interest; and Ko-Ko, Yum-Yum’s guardian and the Lord High Executioner.
Former TNCC student Joshua Crawford stars as Nanki-Poo in the production. This is his fifth show with TNCC, and he is grateful for the hands-on training he has received. “I like that I get to learn, and the performance is the test,” he said. “I get to use what I learn in the productions, and I think that lets them know I’m learning,” he said.
Crawford used a monologue that he performed in TNCC’s production of “Dracula” to audition for the theater program at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). He credits TNCC for the successful audition and will begin his studies at VCU in the fall. “These [TNCC productions] are resume builders,” he said.
Jeff Joyner, a Newport News Public Schools music instructor, portrays Katisha, Nanki-Poo’s jilted bride. This type of role, which is usually played by a woman, is a first for Joyner. “Casting a man in the role gives the already broad comedy in the show kind of a ‘Monty Python’ quality, and I hope the audience really enjoys it,” Joyner said.
Joyner’s experience in the local arts community spans 35 years and includes work with the Virginia Opera, Virginia Beach Symphony Orchestra, Virginia Musical Theater and Poquoson Island Players, a local theater company that holds residency at the Dr. Mary T. Christian Auditorium. He thanks TNCC for opening the auditions to members of the community and providing “a beautiful facility; a paid, highly-qualified production team; [and] the chance to perform with a live orchestra.”
“[Thomas Nelson’s] choosing to produce an operetta also fills a niche in the local arts scene. There aren’t many chances for non-professionals to sing roles that require this style and range of singing in the Hampton Roads area,” Joyner said.
Equally excited about the Gilbert and Sullivan operetta, TNCC Voice Professor Ellen Petko is the production’s vocal coach and a member of the ensemble. She is thrilled to perform in her first Gilbert and Sullivan show in 20 years and delighted to assist TNCC Performing Arts with the production. “This theater department is very organized, talented and a wonderful team to work with,” she said.
TNCC student Allison “Lail” Hayes is an ensemble member in “The Mikado.” This is her third production at Thomas Nelson. Not only has the TNCC Performing Arts program allowed her to experience time on stage, but it also allowed her to work as a stage manager and oversee auditions for other productions. After completing her studies at TNCC, she plans to study technical theater at William & Mary or Virginia Commonwealth University. “I’ve met an amazing family of people here,” she said. “This program is just starting and with each show it just keeps getting better and better.”
Thomas Nelson produces three shows annually. For more information about “The Mikado,” please contact TNCC Theater Manager Torrie Sanders at 757-825-2779. For more information about performing arts programs at Thomas Nelson, please visit www.tncc.edu.
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