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22 May 2008

Jacksonville Opera Theater Visits School

By Kelli Johnson
Special to The Star

Reprinted here in its entirety.

When you ask 500 elementary students what their idea of a fun afternoon would be, you might not expect to hear the word opera in the top 10.

But on the afternoon of May 16, the kids at Walter Wellborn Elementary School got "schooled" in the world of musical entertainment. Theresa Strickland and a few members of the Jacksonville Opera Theatre, headed by Dr. Nathan Wight, were kind enough to perform a couple of scenes from the Gilbert and Sullivan classic "The Mikado."

The Mikado is a comedy that revolves around the relationship of two young lovers, one of whom happens to be the son of the Mikado, or emperor. It makes fun of the social conventions, laws and nobility of 19th century Japan.

Strickland completely captivated a room full of students with tales of the operatic treat they were about to receive. They were listening so intently that they must have forgotten it was Friday afternoon, and they were merely an hour away from freedom.

The students leaned forward on their tiny lunchroom stools, eagerly awaiting the cast and patiently waiting. Right on cue, the cast Jarrod Lee as the Mikado, Chad Miller as Ko-Ko, Haley Arrington as Yum-Yum, Estefania Cuevas as Pitti-Sing, and Ellie Mellen as Peep-Bo made their way into the make-shift lunchroom theater. Roars of laughter and applause met the colorfully dressed characters.

Miller started the show off as the reluctant executioner, Ko-Ko. His hilarious costume and delightful stage presence had the kids rolling with laughter. Next to perform was Jarod Lee, as the Mikado, followed by the three little maids, all of whom were talented and entertaining.

The Mikado opens May 23 at the Pell City Civic Center and will be at the Stone Center at JSU May 29 through June 1. Tickets for the Pell City performances may be purchased by calling the Pell City box office at 205-338-1974. Tickets for the JSU performances may be purchased by calling 782-5876 or online at

See story at The Anniston Star's website: .

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