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The New Mikado, Wedding Bells & more

THE NEW MIKADO. On Friday, August 5, the Lamplighters Music Theatre debuts its new Gilbert & Sullivan masterpiece The Mikado at the Lesher Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek. This new production will be moved from the traditional setting of a fictitious Japanese village to a re-imagined Renaissance Italy, the world of Michelangelo, Leonardo and Botticelli, the home of rapid cultural exchange, scientific advancement and artistic creativity, and the favored setting for many of Shakespeare’s greatest creations.

Earlier this year, the company addressed the changes with its subscribers and donors. “There has always been some controversy about The Mikado, but the cultural and political climate of today’s world is not that of even just a few years ago,” said Rick Williams, Artistic Director, and Baker Peeples, Resident Music Director, in a letter posted on its website. As the national controversy intensified the company held town hall discussions in the community. The decision was made “to remove the exotic lens of Japan from this production and to replace it with a different exotic lens – that of Renaissance Italy – the backdrop for many of Shakespeare’s greatest works.”

This production marks the 22nd production of The Mikado since 1953, and is directed by Ellen Brooks, and conducted by Peeples. With its hilarious plot line, ingenious dialogue, memorable characters and music, The Mikado is a playful satire of the timeless and universal frailties of our shared human nature. In a time when flirting was a capital offense, a handsome wandering minstrel has fallen in love with the beautiful bride-to-be of the recently appointed Lord High Executioner. Chaos, desperation, and comical mayhem ensue with impromptu marriages, forged death certificates, and the revelation of a prince in disguise.

The production reflects the new setting with minimal edits to the names and dialogue, and the classic masterpiece otherwise promises to remain intact.

Founded in 1952 to produce the comic operas of librettist W.S. Gilbert and composer Arthur Sullivan, Lamplighters is recognized as one of the world’s pre-eminent Gilbert & Sullivan companies. Bay Area productions of The Mikado will be presented August 5-7 at the Lesher Center for the Arts, Walnut Creek; August 13-14 at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, Mountain View; August 19-21 at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco; and August 24-28 at the Bankhead Theater, Livermore. For more details and tickets, call 415-227-4797 or visit

SPEAKING OF WEDDINGS. The Fairmont San Francisco’s historical Venetian Room came to life with the sounds of its heyday at the elegant wedding reception of the lovely KRON4 Anchor/Reporter Vicki Liviakis to the dashing Randy Fry of electronics fame on July 23. Bandleader Dick Bright was back on the stage where the baton was passed to him from the late great Ernie Heckscher and his orchestra. Guests were treated to the sounds of the Byrne Starlight Strings during dinner along with emcee and Bay Area personality extraordinaire Liam Mayclam. The couple displayed their fancy footwork to the James Bond theme and Fly Me To The Moon, among other favorites, and Dick Bright’s Orchestra backed the fabulous Swing Dolls (an Andrew Sisters tribute trio) along with crooner Michael Andrew. Liviakis, whose family roots hail from the island of Crete, Greece, didn’t disappoint when she led the Big Fat Greek Wedding dance line without missing a beat. No bundt cakes were spotted but the spirits of Ella, Frank, Sarah, Dean, Sammy, and the rest of the legendary gang filled the room. Congrats to the lovebirds!

WEEKEND SCENE: Macy Gray Friday-Saturday, Eric Darius Sunday, Maria Muldaur Monday at Yoshi’s Jack London Square Oakland … CJC Girls’ Jazz and Blues Camp Performance Friday at Freight & Salvage Berkeley … Jim Cordiss Friday, Saturday at Zio Fraedo’s Pleasant Hill … See ‘Freight & Salvage’ Friday, The Pittson Family Band Saturday, Jon Hatamiya and Friends (4:30 p.m.), Blues Vocal Jam with Pamela Rose (7 p.m.) Sunday at California Jazz Conservatory Berkeley … Jeffrey Halford and The Healers Friday, The Lady Bianca Show Saturday, Banjojazz featuring Howard Alden, Jack Convery, Dave Marty Sunday, Bluegrass Jam Monday at Armando’s Martinez … Leanne Borghesi Friday, Saturday at Feinstein’s at the Nikko San Francisco.

COMEDY SCENE: Dem Wild Boys Friday-Sunday at Tommy T’s Comedy Club Pleasanton … Bill Bellamy Friday-Sunday, at the Improv San Jose … Corey Holcomb Friday, Saturday, Lance Woods and Friends Sunday at Cobb’s Comedy Club San Francisco … Ricky Velez Friday, Saturday, SF Comedy Showcase Sunday at the Punch Line San Francisco.

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