Local girls land roles in Detroit Opera House production

By: Sarah Wojcik | Shelby - Utica News | Published April 6, 2016

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SHELBY TOWNSHIP — At 2:30 p.m. Saturday, April 30, the Michigan Opera Theatre Children’s Chorus will perform the operetta “The Mikado,” reimagined for a younger generation, at the Detroit Opera House.

The production, which combines humor, bright colors and elements of Japanese anime, will include 80 children ages 8-16 from around the metro Detroit area, including two local girls.

Memphis Griffin, 11, of Shelby Township, is a soprano in her second year with the MOTCC and her first year in the main chorus. She will play a soldier in “The Mikado.”

“‘The Mikado’ is fun because there’s a lot more action and stuff. It’s a lot of work learning all the songs and stuff, but it’s worth it in the end,” she said. “I really like singing because it just makes me feel like I can kind of do anything on stage.”

Chloe Syzmanski, 9, of Shelby Township, is an alto and a soprano in her first year with the MOTCC’s preparatory chorus. She will also play a soldier in “The Mikado.”

Amy Syzmanski, Chloe’s mother, said Chloe began taking private vocal lessons at Evola Music about a year ago. Within the first couple of weeks, Amy said Chloe’s instructor recommended that she audition for the MOTCC.

“She’s been singing since she’s been a baby, and she was humming before she could talk,” Amy said. “She’s really good. She’s had a lot of great experiences this year.”

Chloe said she really enjoys performing with the MOTCC and foresees herself continuing her vocal education in the future.

“The Mikado” tells the story of a boy who escapes his father’s palace to avoid marrying an elderly woman. While posing as a minstrel, the boy falls in love with a girl who is already promised to the lord high executioner.

Set and costume designers created an explosion of color and liveliness to captivate a young audience and transform the Detroit Opera House’s main stage.

MOTCC Director Suzanne Mallare Acton said the operetta is a great piece for young singers because it’s lighthearted, fun, and provides great vocal and acting challenges and learning opportunities.

“We like to vary our repertoire and ‘The Mikado’ has a lot of dialogue, in addition to a very stylized presentation,” Acton said. “We thought the kids would benefit from this opportunity.”

Angela Boyce, public relations chair for the Michigan Opera Theatre, said that this is the first time children will perform “The Mikado” in Michigan and that the MOTCC has been working on the production since December.

“If you like anime and art, you will want to come to this. It’s eye candy for the audience with lots of bright colors,” Boyce said. “The kids learned from an actual theater coach teaching them acting. They’re really excited about that.”

Costumes incorporate elements from Hello Kitty, My Little Pony, Pokemon, “Dragon Ball Z” and more, she said. Syzmanski, for example, will be wearing a Hello Kitty vest, a purple belt and yoga pants.

Tickets range from $15 to $20. To purchase tickets, visit www.michiganopera.org, call (313) 237-7464 or visit the Detroit Opera House box office, located at 1526 Broadway St. in Detroit.

For more information about the Michigan Opera Theatre Children’s Chorus, visit www.motcc.org or call (313) 680-6682.

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