Saturday, 25 June 2016

"The Mikado" Derby G&S Company
Derby Theatre.

In many ways Gilbert & Sullivan are very similar to William Shakespeare.They both write excellent, unrivalled comedy and a lot of people are afraid of attending anything bearing their name. maybe that might be because they still think that this kind of entertainment is for the upper/middle classes or that they feel that they won't be able to understand what they see. On both accounts, you'd be wrong.

The Mikado has become my favourite of their works. Why? because in the right hands, such as those belonging to the Derby G&S Company, The Mikado is an hilarious romp.No wonder this company can boast so many awards for their work.

The son of The Mikado, Nanki Poo, has run away to marry Yum Yum, who is betrothed to Ko Ko, who is the Lord High Executioner, who has been ordered to execute someone, and guess who that someone might be?

With the help of Pooh Bah, Ko Ko deceives The Mikado into thinking that Nanki Poo had been executed, and then finds out that The Mikado has come about a different matter altogether, which also involves Nanki Poo being promised to Katisha. Worry not as it all turned out well in the end!

A large cast with some excellent ensemble work and some wonderful lead parts. Brilliant comedy songs, a beautiful sound from the orchestra, led by Derek Williams, and a very bright and colourful set.

Gari Glaysher (Nanki Poo), looks like a leading man and carries the comedy scenes well, and what a voice, well they all have fabulous voices, as you'd expect from the style of music they perform.

Matthew Siveter (The Mikado) looks like a cross between Scary Spice and a cast member from the musical "Cats", thanks to his brilliant costume, supplied by Lichfield Costume Hire. A wonderfully rich, full bodied voice that could be heard all over the theatre.

Sharon Cutworth (Yum Yum), a good choice for the lead female role and has one of those voices you could listen to all night.

Stephen Godward (Pooh Bah) returns to the role and adds a lot of the comedy to the show in his many guises of various dignitaries of Titipu. The laughs came easy with his physical comedy as well as his facial expressions, regional accents and the brilliant G&S script.

Jean Krzeminski (Katisha) also provided comedy with her descriptions of why she was so sought after by members of the opposite sex. Doing all this in that gorgeous singing voice she has.

Alan Smith (Ko Ko) was the star of the show though with this wonderful comedy role. At one point slipping into Leonard Rossiter's character of Rigsby to deliver one passage. Ko Ko also has the job of delivering the song, commonly called "The List Song" but correctly titled "As Someday It May Happen".

This is a piece that in every production they have the leeway to re-write the song to make it topical, and after the events of this week, politically, we had Brexit, The EU, SNP, Boris Johnson, Donald
Trump, The Voice and The X Factor on the list. Needless to say this section received a massive round of applause.

There were other updates to the script as well with Pooh Bah being bribed by contact-less payment methods and Act two opening up with Yum Yum being pampered in a spa pamper party with her friends.

The other highlight of the show though was the song "Here's A How De Do" when Ko Ko has advised Nanki Poo and Yum Yum that if she marries Nanki Poo, as the wife of the intended executionee, she would be buried alive.In an almost Pythonesque performance involving a coffin with Yum Yum's name on and a wedding cake that has the groom beheaded and the bride disappearing into the icing grave. Ko Ko relishes this thought and plays up to it marvelously. Again another crowd pleaser.

Other main players in the cast were John Carter (Pish Tush),Elaine Bishop (Pitti Sing), Beth Bucknall (Peep Bo), all three completing this very entertaining cast.

Some lovely choreography, also in stages quite modern, by Jackie O Brien and Andrew Nicklin deserves all credit levied to him for his innovative direction. A truly wonderful production of a much loved Gilbert & Sullivan favourite

The company richly deserved the standing ovation they received and you can see why the Derby Gilbert & Sullivan Company are so well respected when they turn out incredibly entertaining shows such as this.

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