The cast of the first comic operetta Durango has seen in years is a family affair.For instance, Marcia Heidenreich is the accompanist for the Durango Lively Arts Company's production of "The Mikado or the Town of Titipu" She has even loaned her piano to the company for its performances. And her husband, baritone Duane Heidenreich, struts the boards as Pooh-Bah, who is Lord High Everything Else (except Lord High Executioner of Titipu).
Pooh-Bah's creator Sir William S. Gilbert wrote of this character that he "... may be described without hesitation as the most remarkable man in ancient or modern history." Gilbert added that Pooh-Bah was constantly followed by a small boy carrying an enormous volume to collect any scrap of evidence that Pooh-Bah can trace his ancestry back to "a protoplasmal primordial atomic globule."
The character's name has become the slang term for someone thinking himself grand and powerful. It's the kind of over the top, silly humor, densely applied, that has made the Victorian musical beloved for decades and derided in other quarters for the same amount of time.
It will be an unusual pleasure for Durango, one that doesn't come along often. Kati Smith, a volunteer with the company, said that the DLAC put on Gilbert and Sullivan's "Pirates of Penzance" eight years ago.
Duane Heidenreich said Wednesday as he rehearsed that he's known the score of this piece for nearly 70 years. At the age of 3, he would fall asleep listening to his father's records. When he reached school age, and his mother was out, his father let him stay up late and follow along on the score.
The other family members in the production's cast and crew, said director Nicholas Sandner, are himself and his sister Emily Sandner who is Peep-Bo. Jamie Smith (Yum-Yum) is playing alongside her daughters Katie (chorus) and Taylor (tech crew). Wendy Ludgewait is singing Pish-Tush and her mother, Gail Beach, is the production's costumer.
"Ours is the only true community theater in Durango," Kati Smith said of the Durango Lively Arts Company. "If you want a place, we'll find one for you if you're 6 years old or 70."