There is much to enjoy in this up to date version of the G&S classic performed with pin point clarity of sound and flare. Use of mobile phones as communicators and tourists substituting for Gentlemen of Japan worked very well, the latter especially so in a world of am-dram ever depleted of men.
Jacqui Beckingham has produced a lovely version of this show with some nice touches. The A&B number in Act 2 was very well thought out and performed, the swapping of a few lines here and there, the use of a talented group of maids in modern idiom and costume all propelled this well known tale into new territory, all very well received by an appreciative audience.
Of the main roles, this show allows everyone to shine and Jacqui’s intuitive direction made the most of the vocally talented cast. Diction was crisp throughout both in the main and ensemble singing and the orchestra was punchy, pacey with a sound balance that never swamped the cast either in solo or full cast numbers.
Tom Joyce as Nanki-Poo was a delight in the role, making the singing of this exhaustive role look and sound so easy. Quality clarity of words sung and spoken were equally matched by Nancy Longland as Yum Yum their voices blending beautifully especially in the extensive Act 1 finale. Both their main sols were emotively and well sung.
Carole Lilley never fails to give a good performance and here she is in her element as Katisha, the spurned lover of Nanki Poo. Her solos were beautiful on the ear and the 2nd Act duet with a frenetically energetic Keith Wiggins as Ko-Ko was expertly done and performed by both of them, clearly having a ball together. Tony Austin brought gravitas to the role of the Mikado, his wordy solo performed with great skill and focus including high kicks.
Louis Spencer and Mick Attwood were also on excellent form, the former employing a variety of accents and stances in his ever pursuit of ambition and the latter adding his bass notes and comic timing as Ko Ko’s sidekicks. The tongue twisting trio the 3 of them produced together was spot on, the list song as ever producing suitable mirth at the expense of current trends.
I liked the maids interaction very much, bringing warmth and interest to all the characters they found. Marie Cairns and Rachael Beckingham bringing modernism and sparkling fun to Peep Bo and Pitti Sing. Three Little maid never sounded so cool and this well known score indeed seemed fresh and new in the hands of Rob Jones hands and in his well tuned orchestra. The choice of different overture and playout was a nice touch too.
Choreography was well thought out, lively and appropriate with everyone being able to join in, the use of circles throughout being very effective. Lighting and sound were excellent, the choice of a single set but moveable blocks was a very good idea as pace was maintained and not a single stage hand needed, all dependably looked after by Helen Ford.
A great evening to be had here that purists and newbies can both enjoy, the vocal work being particularly good all round.
The Mikado runs until 12 May 2018, with nightly performances at 7.30pm and a Matinee at 2.30pm on Saturday 12th.