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Adaptation of Gilbert & Sullivan play comes to PPT stage

By Susan Shinn
Salisbury Post
Hey, all you cool cats out there: Piedmont Players Theatre’s newest production is cool, man.
“The Hot Mikado” opens next Thursday at the Meroney Theater.
This musical is based on “The Mikado” by Gilbert and Sullivan.
“The Hot Mikado” is set in 1940s New York, in the city’s mythical sixth burrough.
The Piedmont Players stage now has an Asian flavor, with a Japanese stage and traditional Japanese houses, but with more than a bit of Art Deco thrown in, as evidenced by the huge gold and black screen that serves as the backdrop. It’s accented with black outlines of the Chrysler Building.
Gilbert and Sullivan’s original production was a spoof on British politics set in Japan.
“The Swing Mikado” was staged during the Depression, with “The Hot Mikado” being the brainchild of producer Mike Todd. It starred Bojangles Robinson and Big Band music.
“The Mikado” today is the most popular operetta in the world, according to Reid Leonard, PPT director.
Having staged successful runs of “Pirates of Penzance” and “HMS Pinafore” on the PPT stage ó and given the popularity of the annual Big Band Bash ó Leonard thinks Salisbury audiences will also enjoy “The Hot Mikado.”
“People will love it, absolutely love it,” Leonard says. “We have big voices in this play. It’s just a cast full of great voices.”
George Trueblood plays the lead male role of The Mikado, with Tara Van Geons in the lead female role of Yum-Yum.
Leonard notes this isn’t a play which requires a lot of deep thought. It’s pure fantasy.
“If you’re trying to figure it out,” he says, “you’ll miss the fun.”
The Mikado, he says, is a cross between the Godfather and Cab Calloway.
“It’s his kingdom,” Leonard says. “What he says, goes.”
“Tit-Willow” is the most well-known song from the show, and other musical styles, from rhythm and blues to gospel to Big Band, combine to create a show that’s “tons of fun,” Leonard says.
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The Hot Mikado will be performed at The Meroney Theatre at 7:30 p.m. April 3-5 and April 9-12 and at 2:30 p.m. April 6.
Ticket prices are $15 adults, $12 seniors/students, $10 Wednesday performances only, $11 groups of 20 or more.
For more information, call the box office at 704-633-5471.
n More photos, page 12.

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