NODA reviewAndrew Carpenter, Regional Representative, SW Area District 10
Wow what a fantastic evening! Where and how do I start to describe this wonderful production of The Mikado? Firstly by congratulating director, Alistair Donkin, for putting together a production that was slick, colourful and extremely well performed. The attention to detail was evident throughout in so many ways, probably the best example being the dexterity required by the cast in their use of those wonderful fans provided by Carl Rosa’s artistic director, Peter Mulloy. It must have taken hours to perfect the way in which the fans were used so expertly in so many different ways. And this was only one example of the obvious hard work and dedication that had gone into this production. This detail and the discipline throughout was a hallmark of this fine production. The clarity of diction, both in singing and in speaking, was another real strong point ensuring the wonderful Gilbert lyrics were enjoyed by one and all.
Throughout the production we were treated to a number of delightful ‘pictures’ and the entire show was performed at real pace meaning the audience was always alive to what was happening. I particularly liked the addition of the up-to-date references in ‘I’ve got a little list’, like the mention of Jedward from X Factor and the MP’s expenses scandal. Other additions like the ‘Who wants to be a millionaire’ and ‘American Express’ references also added greatly to the tremendous humour of the piece. Gilbert and Sullivan would have been hugely impressed I feel with these additions as they were totally in keeping with the original tongue in cheek style of its authors.
The set and costumes were most impressive and added to the spectacle of the piece. The lighting also was good, particularly in the use of the ‘reds’ when Katisha entered the stage and similar situations where colours were used to depict certain significant moments. Make up was just right although I would have liked to have seen Katisha look a little more ferocious!
The music throughout was of the highest calibre, both in terms of the playing by a superb orchestra under the direction of John Dempster, and the singing as performed by a very talented cast. My sincere congratulations to all concerned. The overture was played to perfection and if one closed one’s eyes you would think you were listening to a professional recording, only better because it was live. Throughout the production their playing was both sympathetic to the singers and perfectly balanced. The singing too was always clear and tuneful. The harmonies were well executed throughout, both by principals and chorus, with the madrigal being particularly impressive.
I would like to pay tribute to all the principals and the entire ensemble and back stage crew for a near faultless performance in my opinion. It would be inappropriate to single out individuals for praise as this was undoubtedly a team effort. However I would like to briefly mention Matt Sparkes as Nanki-Poo and Olivia Hodgson as Yum Yum who were an absolute delight as the young lovers and their singing blended perfectly together. Michael Bolton as Ko-Ko was a real gem, whose comic timing was perfection, and you really couldn’t take your eyes off him when he was on stage. David Coxon as Pooh-Bar was both suitably pompous and comic with his interpretation of his character and Dave Simmons as Pish Tush brought real panache to his part. Iain Murray as The Mikado provided the absolute right amount of grandeur and sarcasm to his role and Nikki Angel was most impressive, particularly in the comic scene with Ko Ko towards the end of the show. Marie Jenner and Laura Bean as Pitti Sing and Peep Bo respectively provided tremendous support to Yum Yum as well as being distinct characters in their own right.
The programme opened by saying that The Mikado has been performed more times than any other Gilbert and Sullivan opera. I would go as far as to say I’ve seen this G & S opera more than any other and this was without doubt the finest version I’ve seen (and that includes professional productions). I would like to thank the officers of the Society for their hospitality and the company and crew for providing my wife and me with a splendid night’s entertainment. My only disappointment was that the curtain calls were not long enough for us, the audience, to express our appreciation for this top rate production. I look forward with great anticipation to your next production, although if I’m successful in my audition for Annie in Frome, which coincides precisely with your ‘The Full Monty’, it may have to be autumn 2010 before I can visit you again.