Left – Andrew Moran, Eugene Gilfedder and Jason Barry-Smith. Cover – (centre sitting) Dominic Walsh and Jason Barry-Smith.
Opera Queensland has brought Gilbert and Sullivan's classic 19th century comic opera, The Mikado, to life for a 21st century Brisbane audience. Regardless of whether you are a fully initiated, certified fan or a newcomer to the quirky and witty world of G&S operettas, you are guaranteed a laugh and a thoroughly entertaining experience.
There is much to enjoy in this interpretation from director Stuart Maunder. The inherent social commentary and parody present in The Mikado is brought up to speed and given a 2012 makeover, complete with the latest technology cleverly integrated as props that are well placed and used as gags. Strong lead performances, as well as wonderful ensemble work, enable the tongue-in-cheek nature and joy of this piece to be explored with just the right amount of cheesiness and honesty. This careful balance is achieved through Maunder's great direction, Siobhan Ginty's lively choreography and the talents of all the performers on the stage.
Eugene Gilfedder as the reluctant executioner, Ko-Ko was a favourite with the audience and his physical and vocal performance was highly engaging and entertaining. He never missed a beat, built a relaxed rapport with the audience and his performance of 'On a Tree by a River' (Willow, tit-willow) was supurb. The romantic leads, Dominic Walsh as Nanki-poo and Kristy Swift as Yum-Yum, gave fine, high spirited and delightful performances. Their duet 'Were You not to Ko-Ko Plighted' was one of many highlights. Adele Johnston was fantastic as the unrequited older lover Katisha, and owned the stage with her vocal clarity and strength and fabulous physical presence.
The Mikado's design elements also played between pop cultural and traditional culture, kitsch oriental and Japanese style, and British empirical style and sensibilities. The effect was like being presented with a decadent layer cake, each style element on top of the other, whilst brought together brilliantly with a sugary sweet icing. Donn Byrnes' lighting design and Simone Romaniuk's set/costume design again was a great reflection of the interesting and very engaging balance between silliness and G&S tradition at play in this performance.
Opera Queenland's production of The Mikado is wonderfully staged and performed. While it presents itself as a highly professional, finely-tuned piece of comic opera, it is great to witness how much play and fun is infused across the performance. Conductor Brian Castles-Onion's passion for the music of Gilbert and Sullivan is evident in the pleasure expressed with every note played. It's also a rare treat to see professional performers of the standing of Gilfedder and Johnston, inclusive of the entire cast and ensemble, sink their teeth into the comic and dramatic brilliance of G&S. Opera Queensland's take is classic and great comic musical theatre performed at its very best.
Opera Queenland presents
Gilbert and Sullivan
Director Stuart Maunder
Venue: Conservatorium Theatre, QCGU, South Bank
Dates: 7, 10, 12, 14, 17, 19, 21, 24, 26 and 28 July, 2012
Tickets: from $49.25
Bookings: 136 246 | www.qtix.com.au
Also touring: Gold Coast, Toowoomba, Maryborough, Rockhampton, Mackay and Townsville.