Left – Bethany Hill, Daniel Smerdon, Monique Watson and Sidonie Henbest. Photo – Paul Butler
Co-Opera's collaboration with the Gilbert & Sullivan Society has created a boisterous production of The Mikado that tickles the humerus. Richard Trevaskis’ modern rendition of one of Gilbert and Sullivan’s best-loved operettas hums along due to a fine cast, discriminating costumery and a contemporary slant.
For a long time, The Mikado, has been preferred by proletarian operatic companies that it has secured an undesirable reputation for inanity. This production illustrates how splendid absurdity can be when executed with utter professionalism, artistry and enthusiasm. If one is new to the work, go see it. If like many of us, it’s been a while since one has seen it, then go once more. This version will not disappoint.
The Mikado (Daniel Smerdon) decrees that anyone caught flirting in the Japanese town of Titipu, shall be executed by beheading. Enter, Nanki-Poo (James Nicholson), a wandering minstrel, who loves Yum-Yum (Grace Bawden). However, Yum-Yum is betrothed to Ko-Ko (Rob Schultz), the newly appointed Lord High Executioner. In Gilbert’s pet chaotic contrivance, the former tailor Ko-Ko, is sentenced to death, and can only carry out executions once he has removed his own head. So, he must find a substitute and Nanki-Poo heads the list. Unknown to the Executioner is the fact that Nanki-Poo is in fact the Mikado’s prodigal son.
Excellent performances flourish in this latest production. The orchestra is precise and confident and thus the brilliant score gets the entire dazzle it requires. The entire ensemble sings with drollness, allure and swagger, presenting not only fine vocals but also dependable characterisation. Bawden is a stable voiced Yum-Yum and leads the three little maids from school with aplomb. While, Eddie Muliau is a mesmeric Pooh-Bah. But it’s Ko-Ko, and his little list that steals the show, and Schultz’s comic timing and manic energy is captivating as he channels Eric Idle’s, Mr Cheeky and his a nudge-nudge, wink-wink say-no-more style.
Above all, this version of The Mikado is simply a well-made operetta: juggling a number of conflicting characters and an absurd plotline with absolute effortlessness and is readily accessible to long-time fans and people new to the genre.
Co-Opera and The Gilbert and Sullivan Society of SA present
by WS Gilbert and AS Sullivan
Director Richard Trevaskis
Venue: Thomas Edmunds Opera Studio | Wayville Showgrounds
Dates: 6 – 15 May 2016
Tickets: $49 – $16