The Mikado 2019 Cast

The Principals

Tyus Beeson – Coleman Coe (Co Co)

Tyus is elated to be working with the GSVLOC for the first time. He studied theatre at South Dakota State University in Brookings, South Dakota, which granted him the opportunity to work with Prairie Repertory Theatre for two seasons. In the start of 2016, Tyus moved back to Minneapolis and has gone through a plethora of crappy day jobs while attempting to acclimate himself to the Minnesota Theatre Community. Since kicking off his pursuit of the theatrical arts in the Ol’ Minnie-apple, he has worked with companies such as: The Zephyr Theatre, GTC Dramatic Dialogues, Sidekick Theatre, Lyric Arts, the late Mission Theatre Company and more. Tyus drinks way too much coffee and will always say yes to a cheese curd.


Margaret Matejcek – Taylor Tarrington (Tum Tum)

Margaret is pleased to be making her GSVLOC debut! Her most recent credits include Venus in Blow’s Venus and Adonis at the Brooklyn Music School, Morpheus in Offenbach’s Orpheus in the Underworld and Suor Genevieffa in Puccini’s Suor Angelica at the University of Minnesota. Awards this year include second place at the 2019 Thursday Musical Scholarship competition this March, and second place at the 2018 MN-NATS competition. Margaret just graduated with high distinction from the University of Minnesota with a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance, where she studied with Jean del Santo. She is currently a student of Victoria Vargas. This summer, she looks forward to appearing in the chorus of La Belle Hélène with Lakes Area Music Festival in Brainerd, camping with her boyfriend Josh, and spending way too much time with her cats!


Anthony Rohr – Franklyn Pool of Hanover (Franki-Poo)

Anthony is thrilled to be bringing to life everyone’s favorite wand’ring minstrel, Frankie Poo, or The Artist Formerly Known as Nankie Poo. A software engineer by day, Anthony holds a degree in Opera Performance from Luther College and moonlights as a classical singer. His previous performances with the GSVLOC include Patience in 2012, The Yeoman of the Guard in 2013, Orpheus in the Underworld in 2017, and most recently, Princess Ida in 2018 as Prince Hilarion.


Lara Trujillo – Lady Katherine Shaw (Katy Shaw)

Lara recently appeared in the Ordway’s production of In the Heights, in the role of Camila, and will next be seen in Joe Chvala’s production of Heaven, at Park Square Theater in May. She has appeared at the Ordway in My Way: A Musical Tribute to Frank Sinatra, at the Guthrie, with 7th House Theater Company, in The Passage, at the History Theater in River Road Boogie: The Augie Garcia Story and J.D. Steele’s Snapshots: Life in the City, at The Pantages in HAIR, as well as in productions with Theater Latte Da, Teatro del Pueblo, Lyric Arts Main Street Stage, Artistry and Mu Performing Arts. Some of her favorite roles include The Witch in Into the Woods, Anita in West Side Story and Eva Peron in Evita. Lara co-authored and appeared in a production of Theater: A Sacred Passage, with Full Circle Theater Company, for which she also serves as an Advisory Council member. She cameo directed the Full Circle’s production of 365 Days / 365 Plays and directed the company’s reading of Atacama this past fall. Lara has performed with Minnesota Opera and will appear in Mill City Summer Opera’s production of Cosi Fan Tutte in July. This is Lara’s ninth appearance with the GSVLOC, having performed in previous productions of Iolanthe, The Yeomen of the Guard, Utopia, Limited, The Sorcerer, Ruddigore, Orpheus in the Underworld and The Mikado. She has also appeared with the GSVLOC and the Minneapolis Pops Orchestra at the Lake Harriet Bandshell, in concert versions of H.M.S. Pinafore, The Pirates of Penzance and The Mikado. Lara is immensely grateful to her husband, Stephen, and to her family and friends who continually offer her their love, support, and encouragement.


Alex Kolyszko – Pooh Bah

A recent graduate of Hamline University’s wonderful music program, Alex is absolutely delighted to be a part of his first GSVLOC production. He hopes to continue his studies of music and opera in the years to come, and is extremely thankful to his professors, family, friends, and his love, Emily, for their continuous love and support. Prepare to be absolutely delighted.


Sarah Mehle -Patricia Singleton (Patti Sing)

Sarah is delighted to be part of another show with the GSVLOC! Sarah’s love for Gilbert & Sullivan was sparked as a child, when she discovered a lovely trio of dusty VHS tapes in her parents’ basement which included The Pirates of Penzance, The Mikado, and Iolanthe. This love only grew as Sarah began to perform, most recently as Lady Psyche in Princess Ida and as a member of the Love Police in Orpheus in the Underworld with the GSVLOC and the chorus of La Bohème at Minnesota Opera. Sarah has also appeared as Angelina in Trial by Jury, Gretel in Hansel & Gretel, and Fiordiligi in Cosi fan tutte. She has enjoyed performing in elementary schools with Lyric Opera of the North and Voyageurs, where she taught children about healthy habits and friendship in Little Bigfoot and the Bully and The Pirates of the Carrot Bean. Outside of the realm of opera, Sarah is always willing to talk about her beloved cat, Toulouse, and dog, Oliver, and is happy to show an embarrassing amount of pictures of them to any poor soul who mentions animals in her presence.


Doug Freeman –
The Mikado of England (King of England)

Doug is happy to be back with the GSVLOC and enjoying playing a mercurial, authoritarian monarch. Unfortunately, when he tries this at home, the cats look at him, yawn, and wander off to lie down in a sunny spot – so much for life imitating art! Doug has performed with the GSVLOC in Princess Ida, Orpheus in the Underworld, and The Gondoliers. Over the years and across several states, he’s done all but three G&S operettas; he also enjoys musicals (Narrator / Mysterious Man in Into the Woods and El Gallo in The Fantasticks, both with Eat Street Players), opera (Leporello in Don Giovanni with Twin Cities Fringe Opera; Dr. Gibbs in Ned Rorem’s Our Town with Skylark Opera), and an occasional straight play (Harold in The Boys in the Band).


Blanka Melbostad – Barbara O. Peoples (Bow Peep)

Blanka is thrilled to be playing Bow Peep in the GSVLOC’s production of The Mikado. This is her fourth show with the GSVLOC. Blanka performed with the company for the first time in 2017 as Gianetta in The Gondoliers. Since then she has appeared in Orpheus In The Underworld and Princess Ida. Deepest gratitude to The Mikado team, family and friends!


Waldyn Benbenek –
Christopher Tushington (Chris Tush)

Waldyn first listened to The Mikado at age twelve on a turntable without speakers or amplifier while standing on the basement stairs. Under “encouragement” from his siblings he soon learned to closet his tendency to “patter chorus”. After a stormy youth he washed up on the shores of Lake of the Isles where he joined other lost souls in a now demolished Kenwood basement to found the GSLVOC. Their first production of The Mikado came on the show’s 100th anniversary, the company’s highly unexpected fifth year, and Waldyn’s last time as romantic lead. Since then he has played mostly rogues and scummy father figures. Against all odds he met his life partner in the company. Dr. Mary Mescher Benbenek and he now have three children who find themselves with strange tendency to sing choruses in public.


The Chorus

Tom Berg

By day, Tom is a professor of constitutional law and intellectual property law at the University of Saint Thomas. Like many other lawyers over the decades, he has an affinity for the absurdly logical mind of the failed barrister W.S. Gilbert. Tom’s thirst for attention has been unquenched by performing in front of law students in the classroom, and he joined the GSVLOC in 2008, appearing since then in several full productions and summer concerts, including turns as Sir Joseph Porter (H.M.S. Pinafore), Pish Tush (newly named Chris Tush) (The Mikado), Major-General Stanley (The Pirates of Penzance), and the Notary (The Grand Duke). He also played the Major-General in Cross Community Players’ 2018 production of The Pirates of Penzance. He and his wife, Maureen Kane Berg, met in the cast of a student musical comedy production in law school. They co-directed an all-lawyer comedy troupe, the Public Offenders, in Chicago; he co-composed the music for Maureen’s musical comedy, Got It Made, which has had runs in the Twin Cities and across the country; and their new musical (with another collaborator), A House Divided, has had a production in Philadelphia and staged readings in Lexington, Kentucky, and the Twin Cities. Their other major collaborative productions are two sons, Brendan and Aidan.


Jim Brooks

Jim has had the pleasure and privilege of performing with the GSLVOC chorus for the past twenty-five years. He has performed in all of the Gilbert and Sullivan collaborations, but he is still hoping that the company will present a restaging of their lost operetta Thespis. When not doing G&S, Jim is the director of the Wild Goose Chase Cloggers and choreographs and calls contra dances at the Tapestry Folkdance Center in Minneapolis. He is also an adjunct math professor of at Concordia University – Saint Paul and likewise tutors high school and college students in mathematics throughout the Twin Cities. Jim’s wife Judy and daughter Julia have been faithful followers of the GSVLOC throughout the years. They tolerate Jim’s intense rehearsal schedule each spring, but always bring friends and acquaintances with them to enjoy the shows.


Axl Dahl

Axl is beyond honored to grace the stage once more with the GSVLOC having last year performed Princess Ida. This is his first time accepting an understudy role and is thrilled to take on the challenge. Keeping busy with three productions Axl is always inspired by the amazing talent of this cast and crew and he could not be more proud of this production. He would like to give thanks to his friends and family for their unyielding support for him and the arts!


Kelly Danger

Kelly lives with her dashing partner, two spectacular daughters, and two predictably enigmatic felines in their North Minneapolis Money pit … er …home. Yes, her last name really is Danger, and no, she is not a superhero, nor villain. This is Kelly’s first appearance with GSVLOC and she is delighted to be breaking a leg with this ultra-talented cast, crew, and orchestra! Most recently, she was seen as Freddy Eynsford-Hill in Morris Park Player’s production of My Fair Lady, and as Cinderella’s Stepmother in Shoot The Glass’s production of Into the Woods. Other notable roles include Mary Poppins with Saint Anthony Community Theatre, Woman Who’s Skirt is Too Tight to Get up the Stairs in TRP’s production of Rhinoceros, and First Sea Otter in Mrs. Wilcox’s 4th Grade production of the original play, Sea Creatures of the Pacific Northwest. Originally from the Seattle area, Kelly is reveling in the rich theatre community of the Twin Cities, and hopes to continue to work on many more productions in the future.


Laini Devin

Laini is delighted to gallivant with Gilbert and sing with Sullivan in this wonderfully reimagined Mikado! A Twin Cities based actor, performance credits include Children’s Theatre Company (20,000 Leagues), Actors Theater of Minnesota (All The Great Books), Minnesota Opera (Rigoletto), Minnesota Centennial Showboat, (Under the Gaslight), Theatre in the Round (Jean Brodie), The National Theatre for Children (The Energized Guyz), and Public Theatre of MN (Romeo and Juliet, As You Like It). A sometimes director, stage manager and undertaker of miscellaneous artistry, she has worked with Theatre Latté Da, Four Humors, Ten Thousand Things, Theatre Unbound, and most recently Yellow Tree Theatre (Flowers for the Room) as ensemble and crane operator (use your imagination for that). Laini holds a degree in theater from the University of Minnesota, and is the Education Program Director for Mill City Summer Opera. Check out or follow @elaini_beth for more mischievous endeavors.


Jeff Erickson

Jeff is overjoyed to be returning for his second show with the GSVLOC, after marching enthusiastically throughout last year’s Princess Ida. You may have seen him more recently as Professor Henry Higgins in Morris Park Players’ production of My Fair Lady. In his free time, Jeff enjoys singing (obviously), playing video games more than he should, playing the piano less than he should, watching terrible reality shows, and not using his computer science or French degrees in any way whatsoever.


Emily Garst

Emily is elated to appear in her second production with the GSVLOC! She is a recent graduate of Luther College where she obtained her Bachelor of Arts in Theatre, with a Music minor. A few of Emily’s favorite theatrical experiences include appearing onstage in Lakeshore Player’s The Underpants (Louise), Festival Theatre’s 1776 (Abigail Adams), and The Orchard Theater Collective’s Thomas Tallis. In her free time, Emily enjoys hiking, running, singing, FaceTiming her cats in Iowa, and photography. She sends love and gratitude to the cast and crew of The Mikado for their dedication and kindness, and to her family and friends who inspire her every day.


Clyde Gerber

Clyde is excited to be performing in his fifth GSVLOC show, having previously appeared in Patience ‘12, The Grand Duke ’14, Iolanthe ’16 and Orpheus in the Underworld ’17. While he occasionally has to do a song and dance at his job as a Software Development Manager, he counts himself very fortunate to actually sing and dance with this talented cast and crew!


Alexander Gerchak

Alexander has enjoyed the privilege of working with the GSVLOC for the past four years, as both a performer and designer. He also works as a writer and director in the Twin Cities area, producing musicals with GSVLOC alum Bradley Kallhoff, among other projects. Alexander currently sits on the GSVLOC’s Board of Directors as the Men’s Chorus Representative, and is looking forward to the company’s continued success for many years to come. He was also instructed that his biography should be at least 75 words long, falling short of that metric he has written a whole other sentence that is regrettably lacking in purpose or wit.


Mary Gregory

Mary welcomes the blustery months of January through March, because during these months, GSVLOC members get to sing, dance, and work together as they rehearse. The Mikado is one of her favorites. She saw bits and pieces of it long ago, on a Sunday afternoon TV program, and remembers the “Tit Willow” song, a clever song sung by D’Oyly Carte’s John Reed. Many years later, she was reintroduced to the music and fun of The Mikado, performing in Rochester. Now, many cycles of GSVLOC operettas later, she is happy to perform this favorite anew, with a fresh perspective. So, like the “flowers that bloom in the spring”, the GSVLOC is here once again heralding the end of winter and the beginning of a new season with joyful music.


Stephen Hage

Stephen’s lifelong passion for Gilbert and Sullivan began in the eighth grade when he was cast as Sir Joseph Porter in his middle school’s production of H.M.S. Pinafore and it has carried him through the years that have followed to this staging of The Mikado … his thirty-ninth appearance in a G&S production … but then, who’s counting!? In addition to performing on stage, Stephen serves as the company’s Producer. He has also performed with Artistry and as a supernumerary with Minnesota Opera and Mill City Summer Opera. Stephen particularly enjoys the opportunities that performing in the opera affords him … to carry spears or bottles of wine, to flirt with or to menace world famous sopranos … usually in different operas … and to be killed in battle … sometimes several times in the same opera! By day, he is responsible for Human Resources for the Orion Associates organization of companies, which he does with his wonderful staff of Human Resources professionals, all the while enjoying far too many cups of coffee. Stephen dedicates this, and all that he does, to his delightful daughters, Lyndsay, Madeleine and Maya … to his sweet son, Liam … and to his lovely and loving wife, Lara.


Steven Halloin

This is Steven’s second foray with the GSVLOC. He completed his Bachelor of Arts at Luther College. Steven has performed throughout the Twin Cities as an actor, chorister, soloist and performer. His latest role was in Opera Reading Project’s read-through of Madame Butterfly (Goro). Fun fact, he is a triplet! He can provide proof if anyone is skeptical and can answer any questions this might entail after the show is over. Until then, enjoy the show!


Jonah Heuer

Jonah is delighted to be performing in his second production with the GSVLOC. You may have seen him in the chorus of last year’s production of Princess Ida, or else over the summer as a Statue in The Hunchback of Notre Dame with Bunce Backyard Productions, or as Rodrigo in Little Women with Blue Water Theatre Company. Jonah sincerely hopes you enjoy watching this delightful show as much as he delights in being a part of it. Soli Deo Gloria!


Shawn Holt

Shawn has been a member of the GSVLOC since 2007 and has enjoyed working with the various directors and people who have sung with the company. This is her second staged version of The Mikado. Shawn lives in Shoreview with her husband Phil, daughter Amanda, and cat Shadow. Fun Fact: Shawn owns an alarming amount of yarn! She thanks you for coming and hopes you enjoy the show!


Anna Maher

Anna’s time onstage with the GSVLOC includes Princess Ida, Orpheus in the Underworld, The Gondoliers, and Iolanthe, as well as a healthy number of summer concerts and cabarets. Other recent productions include Into the Woods (Rapunzel) with Shoot the Glass Theatre, and H.M.S. Pinafore (Josephine) with Joe Chvala and Mounds View Community Theatre. She can also be seen with the Minnesota Chorale, and occasionally sings at Opera on Tap. By day, she smashes the patriarchy at Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and talks back at her cat, Mabel. As always, she is grateful to Blanka for being a wonderful and supportive “overstudy.”


Wendy Matsutani

Wendy is so excited to be back performing with the GSVLOC! A sunny So-Cal girl at heart, she completed her Bachelors of Music at UC Santa Barbara before receiving her Masters of Music from the University of Minnesota. Favorite credits include: Lady in the Dark (Sutton/Miss Foster), Susannah (Mrs. Gleaton), Luisa Fernanda (Rosita) and Die Zauberflöte (Papagena). This year, Wendy is successfully coping with seasonal depression by occasionally bouldering, watching Shiba puppy videos, and eating lots of ramen. She is so grateful for the amazing cast and production team who have made this experience so fun. With joyous shout and ringing cheer, let’s all hope that Spring is near! Enjoy the show!


Luke McKenty

Luke sings as part of the Minnesota Opera Chorus and teaches voice at Schmitt Music. He has performed professionally with the Helena Theatre Company as Mr. Erlanson in A little Night Music, with the Carroll College Theater as Dr. Stan Smith in The Collar, and with the Nashville Opera for five seasons, including a role as Man 1 in the world premiere of Elmer Gantry. Luke has sung locally at Saint Mary of the Lake, Saint Peter’s, as a member of Kantorei and CORO!, Theatre 301, and the Minnesota Chorale. He earned a Master’s degree in Vocal Performance from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln, where he performed the roles of Emil in O Pioneers and Frank in Our Town, and a Bachelor’s degree in Commercial Music from Belmont University.


Maddie Olsem

Maddie is excited to be making her Minnesota debut with the GSVLOC. Over the course of her musical career, she has participated in various choirs, theatrical performances, and operas. Some of Maddie’s favorite roles include Jo in Little Women: The Musical, Spirit 2 in Mozart’s The Magic Flute, and Carrie in Holloway, a new musical that she helped premier at NYC’s 54 Below. In addition to the performing arts, Maddie also found her passion for arts administration after her post graduate internship at The Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. Now she enjoys spreading her love of arts administration and education to young musicians in the Twin Cities! Enjoy the show!


John Orbison

Sufficiently decayed and well-raised, John has been a pestilential fan of both the Packers and G&S for nearly sixty years, most of which have been spent here in enemy territory. This is his fourteenth stage show with the GSVLOC since his sister and fellow G&S / Packer fan Jean Van Heel, GSVLOC Assistant Music Director, first persuaded him to join the fun in 2006. A retired math teacher and engineer and proud father of two adult Packer fans, he enjoys singing in four choral ensembles besides the GSVLOC, playing cello duets and other orchestral and chamber music with his equally retired wife, and coaching middle school math teams. He inaugurated a new career with GSVLOC cellist Holly MacDonald eight years ago, to the strains of “Brightly Dawns Our Wedding Day”, and has been prospered with all good fortune ever since.


Eric Pasternack

In real life, Eric is a peripatetic petrophysicist rapidly approaching retirement. Nobody knows what a petrophysicist is, so he does other more recognizable things for fun, such as singing the second tenor part in the GSVLOC chorus and doing whatever the director tells him to do on stage. Eric’s first G&S experience was in 1963 as Jack Point in The Yeomen of the Guard. Despite that auspicious start, he stayed off the stage for thirty years before joining the chorus of the (late) Texas Gilbert & Sullivan Company from 1994 to 1998. He joined the GSVLOC in 2000 after moving to the great state of Minnesota. (Note for the curious: a petrophysicist evaluates data from oil and gas wells in order to determine how much oil and gas is really down there. Now you know).


Gabe Salmon

Gabe just graduated from Saint Olaf College with degrees in Music and Economics. His hope is to only use the first one. So far, he’s been in Minnesota Opera’s Silent Night, and in the future, he’ll be in The Clemency of Tito’s Records with Mixed Precipitation. His hobbies include a budding indoor garden, learning Python, and whatever people challenge him to do. Gabe decided to do The Mikado because he thought he might as well, and because he heard GSVLOC throws a lot of parties. He is excited to be in his first production with them!


Sarah Shervey

Sarah is thrilled to be in her third show with the GSVLOC as an ensemble member and as Patti Sing’s understudy. She has recently moved back to the Twin Cities after an exciting adventure working and performing in Los Angeles. In LA, Sarah performed as Princess in Love’s Labour’s Lost: The Musical. Some of her favorite credits in Minnesota include, Beauty and the Beast (Belle), The Marvelous Wonderettes (Missy), The Little Mermaid (Ariel), and The Last Five Years (Cathy). Sarah is excited to be challenged by this incredible show and to work with this extremely talented cast and production staff! Enjoy the show!


Rhea Sullivan

Rhea is excited to be involved in this unusual staging of The Mikado. The first time she performed in this operetta, she was called upon to act as understudy for Katisha in a huge snowstorm (the understudy could not get to the theater). The people on stage outnumbered the audience. That’s an afternoon she’ll never forget. When she’s not singing, Rhea is an Account Executive with The Harrington Company (an association management company). This marks her 37th year with the GSVLOC and her 4th production of The Mikado.


Mariella Warren

Mariella is currently a student at Saint Paul Conservatory for Performing Artists where she studies vocal arts. This is her first show with the GSVLOC and she has really loved it! Mariella has also done Gilbert and Sullivan’s Trial by Jury with Chanson Voice and Music Academy. Although she loves singing art songs and being in operettas, she enjoys experimenting in many different genres as well as writing music. Mariella has recently put together a rock band with some friends and plays with them on the weekends.


Lydia Wildes

Lydia is thrilled to be back performing with the GSVLOC since her debut with the company two years ago in The Gondoliers. During the day, Lydia scrapes together a living as a nanny, a private piano / voice instructor, and as the middle school theatre director at Minnehaha Academy. After a long day of teaching children how to be good humans, she enjoys the adult interaction she finds at rehearsal with her lovely cast mates. Lydia looks forward to aging so she can put her intimidating demeanor to use playing mothers and powerful women in general (the 20-something ingénue thing hasn’t been working out). Recent credits include Ensemble in Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry with Steppingstone Theatre, and Miss Glacé in A Coney Island Christmas with Lyric Arts.