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'The Mikado" at Bill Heard Theatre Saturday

Albert Bergeret is the grand pooh-bah of the New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players. He's the founder, artistic director, general manager, set designer and conductor of the orchestra. He also has sung in the productions and even played French horn in the orchestra once.

The term pooh-bah comes from the Gilbert & Sullivan opera, "The Mikado," which can be seen at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in the Bill Heard Theatre.

Bergeret is considered to be one of the "leading custodians of the Gilbert & Sullivan classics." In other words, he's one of the G&S experts in the world.

The team of librettist W.S. Gilbert and composer Arthur Sullivan wrote the operas which laid the groundwork for modern musical theater in the late 1880s. Some of the most popular works include "The Mikado," "Pirates of Penzance" and "HMS Pinafore."

Often called light opera or operettas, these works are still performed often.

Bergeret founded the G&S Players 39 years ago in New York City and will plan a 40th anniversary season next year.

Asked if anyone is still around from the original company, he said, "Yes, I married one of them."

He is married to costume designer Gail Wofford, who says "she can't carry a tune in a bucket." But she can dress the singers, Bergeret said.

One way to tell the popularity of a piece of work like "The Mikado" in popular culture is when it crops up in shows like "Alvin and the Chipmunks" and "Magnum, P.I.," he said.

"It's accessible to kids and has sophistication for the adults," Bergeret said. There is a balance between political satire and musical theater.

"These are romantic stories that feature classical music with a popular twist," Bergeret said. "They (Gilbert and Sullivan) started a whole genre."

"The Mikado" features a large cast for a touring show, with 24 in the cast and 17 in the orchestra. Add the four staff members and you've got a full bus-and-truck tour.

He's looking forward to coming back to Columbus. His company last performed in the Heard Theatre with "Pirates of Penzance" in 2008.

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