Wednesday, February 21, 2007

?The show must go on? for Ketchum opera

New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players salvage Ketchum show

Express Staff Writer

Sun Valley Opera patron Gary Hoffman and New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players Artistic Director Albert Bergeret, right, scramble Saturday afternoon to build props for a Saturday evening performance of ?The Mikado,? after the Gilbert & Sullivan Players? bags were lost in transit to Idaho. Photo by Willy Cook

Just think: Nanki-Poo might never have fallen in love with Yum-Yum, and The Mikado might never have sealed and saved Nanki-Poo's destiny.

That's right. Staging of the famed Gilbert & Sullivan "The Mikado" might never have happened in Ketchum Saturday evening if it wasn't for the last-minute efforts of a half-dozen Ketchum-area residents. The home-town theater crowd rallied Saturday to collect a stage full of props and costumes to be used when the New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players arrived in Ketchum bereft of their theater accouterments, which had been lost somewhere in the ether of airline industry cargo bays between New York, Chicago and Idaho.

"Eleven bags didn't make it through O'Hare Friday night," said Sun Valley Opera patron Gary Hoffman, who worked Saturday with Gilbert & Sullivan Artistic Director Albert Bergeret to build props, buy clothes and borrow costumes in preparation for the 8 p.m. show.

Hoffman said it took about seven hours of hard work to put it all together.

"The show must go on," Hoffman said. "Our job is to make it go on to the best of our abilities beyond what the average person would think is acceptable."

What that meant Saturday were visits to the Gold Mine thrift store, Chateau Drug, the lumberyard and a fabric shop. It also meant borrowing kimonos from all known available sources. And when the curtain went up, the performance at the Presbyterian Church of the Big Wood on Saturday was smooth, despite the huge glitch.

"The show was fine," Hoffman said. "Everybody had a wonderful time. It was a full house. A standing ovation. Wonderfully entertaining. Incredibly wonderful comments from the theater goers, people saying, 'I've never seen anything that good here before.'"

Bergeret is something of a theater phenom and has been hailed as "the leading custodian of the G&S classics."

"Albert is a real wizard with tools and construction," Hoffman said. "He's really quick. He was amazingly organized, amazingly quick. I had not expected anything from anybody who was a musical guy."

Arthur Sullivan composed the music and W.S. Gilbert wrote the libretto for the infamous pair's ninth operetta, "The Mikado," which premiered at the Savoy Theatre in London on March 14, 1885. "The Mikado" ran for 672 performances and is considered one of the most performed theatrical productions in history.

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