Holiday Classic "Amahl & Night Visitors" Features Triple Casting

(Bradenton, Fla., Nov. 5, 2008) -The Manatee Community College production of the cherished holiday opera, "Amahl and the Night Visitors," will feature both a highlight and challenge in the triple casting of the roles of Amahl and Mother.

Gian Carlo Menotti's American opera classic will bring a family holiday tradition to the Neel Performing Arts Center stage in evening and matinee performances Nov. 20 through 22.

Three different females, Megan Kroger, Karrah Imperatore and Caitlin Longstreet, are rotating in the role of Amahl, a young crippled boy. Kroger has been seen in numerous MCC Studio 84 theatre productions and has been a member of the Chamber Choir. In her first production at MCC, Imperatore benefits from nine years of private voice study, six years in the Sarasota Youth Opera and performances with the Sarasota Opera. Longstreet, a recent Booker High School graduate, also is performing in her first show at MCC. She has been on stage in Manatee Players and Golden Apple productions.

Emma Mendoza, Hannah Dahlquist and Danielle Hartmann play the role of Mother. Each contributes a strong musical performance background and unique approach. Mendoza has a 2 year-old daughter and brings personal experience to the role.

Victor Chacon plays Kaspar, one of three kings visiting Amahl and his mother. Although this is his first operatic role, Chacon has performed often. He plays conga drums with the Voces Libres Latin Band and can be seen many weekends at 15 South Restaurant on St. Armand's Circle.

Dylan Jones and James Taylor alternate in the role of Melchior, another of the three kings. Jones has performed in various local theatres and Taylor was a member of the Sarasota Youth Opera. The third king, Balthazar, will be played by Colin Cook, who has appeared in local theatrical productions and has been cast in the role of Laurie in "Little Women" at Sarasota Players.

The role of the page alternately will be played by Erika Wilkes, Thavey Phoolsuwan, Ashley Lawrence, Beth Bowling and Danielle Hartmann. Additional cast members are April Barnwell, Leslie Bergeron, Michelle Hettel, Jennifer Hemingway, James Lannon, Andrea Sorondo and Jessica Wolf. MCC music students will provide orchestral accompaniment under the direction of Willis and Lurray Myers.

Producing the American opera classic by Gian Carlo Menotti is challenging for everyone involved, says Melodie Dickerson, director and program manager of the MCC Music Program. In addition to Monday, Wednesday and Friday classes, rehearsals are held every Monday evening. It's hard work, she admits, but she describes the excitement as palpable when the cast is on stage.

A soprano/pianist that has appeared in more than 100 musical productions, Dickerson is joined by classical guitarist Rex Willis as musical director for the MCC production of "Amahl," an opera that became a holiday tradition for many since it was commissioned by the National Broadcasting Company for television in 1951.

"This is a collaborative production in every way," said Dickerson, noting that choreographer Kelly Burnette, adjunct dance instructor, is coordinating a dance for the hour-long production.

Dickerson describes "Amahl" as touching, fast paced and with humor.

"For many, this has served as a delightful introduction to opera," Dickerson said. "It's family entertainment and we hope to see a lot of children in the audience."

Performance times for "Amahl and the Night Visitors" at Neel Performing Arts Center are 8 p.m. Nov. 20 through 22; at 10 a.m., Nov. 21; and 2 p.m. Nov. 22 and 23. Neel Performing Arts Center is located off 26th Street at 60th Avenue West, MCC Bradenton.

General admission is $10. Tickets are $5 for Florida students and MCC staff. Group rates are available. For more information, call (941) 752-5252.

Amahl and the Night Visitors Cast

Cast of "Amahl and the Night Visitors"

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