IUK Performing Arts presenting “The Gondoliers”

Last Updated on April 5, 2017 by cassnetwork

This semester Indiana University Kokomo Performing Arts is taking on the greatest challenge it has ever faced, in mounting a full-scale production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Gondoliers. This is no ordinary musical. It is an operetta, or a light opera. What this means is that it is like any other musical you will see, but the music is much more challenging than any piece of musical theatre.

Director Garry Grice had a “difficult task” in casting the show. Above all Mr. Grice wants this to be a “growing experience” for the singers. By pushing the singers to their limits, and nurturing growth he is creating a sturdy cast for even harder performances in the future. He leads the troupe with fatherly authority, and is the most qualified man to do so.

Garry Grice is a tenor, whose repertoire of 50 roles bridges from the dramatic Italian and French roles such as Otello, Radames, Manrico, Canio, and Don Jose, to Heldentenor roles Florestan, Erik, Max, Bacchus and Lohengrin. He has performed with such distinguished companies as New York City Opera, The Bavarian State Opera, Milwaukee Florentine, Calgary and Des Moines Metro Opera, among many others. He has led several opera companies at different schools, and is now helping his wife, Prof. Wendy Grice, to build a strong vocal program at Indiana University Kokomo. To aid Mr. Grice in his efforts, a guest conductor is coming to lead the orchestra.

The conductor, Martin Knoblauch, has been Music Director of the Chestnut Hill Symphony since 1986. In addition, he has served as conductor of the Symphony Club for Philadelphia and as an assistant conductor with the Philadelphia Grand Opera, the Philadelphia Lyric Opera, and the Opera Company of Philadelphia. He serves presently as Music Director of the Pennypack Chamber Orchestra, the Northeast Oratorio Society and he recently retired as Music Director and Principal Organist of the Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church in Philadelphia.

“This will be the hardest thing you have ever done,” Grice has said to the cast several times, “There will be people in that audience that will know every word… every note to the show.” He is certainly right about that. Gilbert and Sullivan have written a multitude of these operettas, and achieved much success. Their other shows include, Pirates of Penzance, The Mikado, and H.M.S Pinafore. The Gondoliers is by far the most challenging music out of all of them. It pushes chorus and principals alike to high- C’s with an excruciatingly high tessitura for the tenors. Couple that with the dance number “Dance a Cachucha” and it is truly a workout for the singers.

The Gondoliers is a story about two brothers (Marco and Giuseppe) who are recently married to two women (Tessa and Gianetta). The situation is complicated when the Duke of Plaza Toro arrives with his wife (The Duchess) and daughter (Casilda) to speak with the Grand Inquisitor (Don Alhambra Del Bolero). Casilda was married to the son of the late king of Barataria as a baby, and it is believed that boy was hidden away among the Gondoliers. To make things even worse, Casilda is in love with the lowly drummer boy and valet to her father (Luiz).

Two Logansport natives are in the production. IUK Junior Cody Kopka (Marco) and IUK senior Nathan Emery (Don Alhambra). Nathan is an exercise science major and psychology minor. He will be working for Disney after graduation until January as part of the Disney college program. After that, he plans to move to Nashville to pursue music and work in cardiac rehab. His music career spans several local theatres such as IUK Performing Arts, LHS Performing Arts, and Logansport Junior Civics. Some of his favorite shows he has graced the stage in have been West Wide Story, Music Man, Oliver, and Gondoliers.

Cody is a Humanities major with a focus in performing arts. He has performed in several productions at IUK, with this being his second performance as a leading tenor. His other works have been with local community theatres, and many times in conjunction with Mr. Emery. Both students are under the tutelage of Garry Grice in his vocal studio.

Show dates are Thursday, April 6, Friday, April 7, and Saturday, April 8 at 7:00 pm, with a Sunday matinee on April 9 at 3:00 pm. Performances will be in Havens Auditorium on the campus of Indiana University Kokomo. Tickets are all seats $10.00 and $5.00 for children under 12 and students with ID.