Ticketmaster Summer in Stages

The Mikado

Music by Arthur Sullivan, Lyrics by W. S. Gilbert
Carl Rosa Opera
Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield, and touring
(2008)

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Titipu took over the Lyceum with a great bang this week. A sparkling performance met an excited audience who applauded at every opportunity - and with good reason. The programme may refer to the century before last, when The Mikado first appeared on stage, the most popular work of G & S. But the atmosphere was tingling as this Carl Rosa production started its tour after its West End season.

Through the closed curtain, during the overture, we were treated to a brief 'rehearsal' of the practice of fan-opening, with appropriate bowing and gesturing till on came the beautifully marshalled chorus, welcoming us to the ancient Japanese city with its complex laws and equally complex administration.

The arrival of the wandering minstrel, unrecognised as the non-conformist son of the Mikado, introduced a flow of well recognised songs, beautifully sung and acted, with a somewhat bemused Nanki-Poo vacillating between joyous excitement at his new love and bewildered despair as he prepared to leave his intolerable life. Around him, the machinations of the three citizens, Pooh-Bah, Pish-Tush and Ko-Ko, Lord High Executioner, struggled to extricate themselves from the complicated difficulties of the laws of Titipu before the Mikado came to sort them out. In the meantime, Yum-Yum the foremost of the three little maids from school, escaped from marriage to Ko-Ko by linking up with Nanki-Poo who had originally escaped from home to avoid marriage to a 'mature' lady, Katisha.

The intricate plot revolving around marriages, head choppings-off and burial alive does not give the impression of a joyful evening. One had to leave that to the magic of Gilbert and Sullivan, executed, if one can use the term, by the singing and acting of Ko Ko (Fenton Gray) and his eventual bride, Katisha (Nichola McAuliffe), the baritone multi-tasking of Lord High Eevrything Else Pooh-Bah (Gareth Jones) and the sometimes romantic gentlenesss of Nanki-Poo (Lincoln Stone) and his eventual bride Yum-Yum (Charlotte Page).

And the strongest expletive to occur through the whole of this great performance was Ko-Ko's 'Bother the flowers that bloom in the Spring.'

Gail-Nina Anderson reviewed this production at the Thetare Royal, Newcastle

Reviewer: Philip Seager