Florida School of the Arts presents the musical “Hot Mikado”

performing arts students

The musical theatre project “Hot Mikado” is set to heat up the main stage of the Florida School of the Arts located on the Palatka campus of St. Johns River State College. “Hot Mikado,” loosely set in the 1940s, is the reinvention of the original operetta “The Mikado” by W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan. The book and lyrics were adapted by David Bell, and the dialogue has been trimmed of some of its more antique references. The music, adapted and arranged by Rob Bowman, is full of jazzy rhythms and harmonies. “Hot Mikado” runs Thursday, October 27 to Saturday, October 29 at 7:30 p.m. and on Sunday, October 30 at 2:30 p.m. Admission is $5. SJR State students and employees admitted free with College ID. The play contains mild, mature content, but is considered appropriate for most audiences.

“Hot Mikado” revolves around the small Japanese town of Titipu and its ridiculous rules and cruel punishments, including outlandish laws that sentence people to death for almost any indiscretion. Chaos ensues, death threats are made, and promises are broken when two forbidden lovers are reunited after a year apart. No matter the case, the Mikado, a cool cat, believes the punishment should always fit the crime, but shows how to tap the troubles away.

Play director and FloArts musical theatre voice instructor Kandie Smith said that introducing students to the delightful, whimsical and ridiculous fun of Gilbert and Sullivan's operettas has been one of her goals since she joined FloArts in 2014. “This updated version of ‘The Mikado’ fits our students and their career goals perfectly, while also dovetailing with my desires,” Smith said. “The singing is full of contemporary jazz riffs and style; the dancing is vibrant and athletic, but the dialogue and action retain the innocent silliness and hilarious comedy that personify the Gilbert and Sullivan/D'Oyly Carte style I love so well.”

According to Olivia Bleak, a sophomore in FloArts’ musical theatre program, “’Hot Mikado’ is full of beautiful music, gorgeous costumes and hilarious character interactions and is a treat for every age and gender.” Bleak plays the character Yum-Yum, the young, innocent ward of Titipu's Lord High Executioner, Koko. The two are engaged to be married, but Yum-Yum is in love with another gentleman, Nanki-Poo.

“This is unlike any show I've ever been a part of, because we are allowing audience members to join us on stage and be a part of the joy and comical moments,” Bleak said. “I am fully confident this show will help people forget their troubles and become immersed in a nonsensical world of fun,” she stated.

Smith added, “This show is a visual treat with fabulous choreography created by students Austin Carroll and Pascale Molina and stunning costumes designed by Johan Gallardo. In fact, the entire artistic and production team is comprised of our talented students and overseen by the creative talents of our theater technology design faculty, Emily Strickland and Robert O'Leary. I promise you, our production of ‘Hot Mikado’ is going to leave audiences gasping for breath and begging for more.”

The “Hot Mikado” cast consists of Robert Allen as Tee-Bo; Kiersten Bartholomew as Pitti-Sing; Bleak as Yum-Yum; Mitchel Burns as Nanki-Poo; Yul Carrion as Ying-Ling; Carroll as Mikado; Caitlin Charrier as Yuseiso-Chan; Emely Cuestas as Saiko-Chan; Savannah Faulkner as Kitti-Chan; Gordia Hayes as Pish-Tush; Eduardo Marin as Katisha; Ashley Mercado as Ninja 2; Molina as Peep-Bo; Havilah Moore as Ninja 1; Justin Savage as Hop-Sing; Emerson Smith-von Wiegen as Ko-Ko; and Mark Wildman as Pooh-Bah.

The production staff is made up of Katrina Babitzke, assistant lighting designer; Babitzke, Collins, Gallardo, Harrington, Holley, Melissa Hund, Brianna Osmond, Britanny Posso, Kylee Risdon, Robinson and Jeno Tate, carpenters, painters and electricians; Carroll and Molina, choreography; Mitchell Collins, Sarah Cox, Devin Fuentes, Uvenka Jean-Baptiste, Emily Parks, Ritchie Rodriguez, Emma Stimpson and Alexa Williams, stitchers; Patricia Crotty and Stephanie Masterson, staging consultants; Gallardo, costume design; Megan Haring, Grant Rogers and Emily Skinner, assistant stage mangers; Braden Harrington, sound design and sound board operator; Searcy Holley IV, master electrician and lighting systems supervisor; Tiffany Jordan, costume shop manager; Emma Kriausky, production assistant; O’Leary, technical director and scenic/lighting design faculty supervisor; Katy Page, cutter/draper; Posso, lighting design and light board operator; John Robinson, assistant technical director, properties master and show carpenter; Libby Rodriguez, assistant music director; Smith, director; Strickland, costume design faculty supervisor; and Angel Warren, stage manager.

Understudies are Allen, Carrion, Charrier, Cuestas, Faulkner, Savage and Carine St. Juste.

Florida School of the Arts is part of the academic and administrative structure of SJR State and awards the two-year associate degree. The School serves the entire state of Florida and is located on the SJR State Palatka campus. For more information, call 386-312-4300 or visit the website at



Susan Kessler
Director of Public Relations and Publications
(386) 312-4020