ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
The Mikado pleases and shocks
Starring: Marc McNamara, Dean Greer, Sharon Jones, Chris Wood, Carolyn Holdsworth
By Dan Perry
Gazette File Photo
WHY DOES HIS FACE LOOK SO CONTORTED? Talbot Theatre hosts The Mikado, a
play filled with the possibility of executions and dangerous flirtations.
With this being the 50th consecutive year of Gilbert & Sullivan operettas,
London Musical Theatre’s The Mikado takes its place in this local tradition
in a way best described by Katisha in one of the show’s final numbers: “Along,
and Yet Alive!”
David Antscherl’s breathtaking set design transforms the Talbot Theatre’s
stage into Titipu, Japan where Nanki-Poo (Greer), the son of the all-powerful
Mikado (McNamara), has fled to escape his arranged marriage to Katisha (Jones),
the larger-than-life choice of his parents.
Upon Nanki-Poo’s arrival, he and Yum-Yum (Holdsworth), the loveless
bride-to-be of the village executioner, Ko-Ko (Wood), inevitably fall for each
other. Because of Yum-Yum’s engagement, however, there is nothing the
lovers can do — the penalty for flirting, after all, is death.
In a shocking twist of fate, the executioner receives a letter from the
Mikado noting there have not been enough executions in Titipu this year and
that Ko-Ko’s position will be eliminated if someone isn’t killed
The two men eventually strike a deal wherein the lovers can be married for
one month, after which Wood’s brilliantly-portrayed, stutter-stepping
Ko-Ko can execute him, thus setting the stage for even zanier outcomes.
The leads are rounded out by a strong chorus, complete with an “alumni
chorus” composed of past G&S and LMT performers, who come onstage
to enhance the bigger songs in trademark G&S fashion.
In another fitting tribute during “I’ve Got a Little List,” the
chorus takes a seat while a character enters with some new verses, extolling
the history of the Forest City’s great G&Sers of yore. Though perhaps
a little self-indulgent, this is a fine addition to mark the half-century and
doesn’t interfere with the show.
Perhaps the only drawback is the shows place in the G&S catalogue; The
Mikado is in many ways a sleeper, often overshadowed by the fame of, for instance,
the bouncier H.M.S. Pinafore; nevertheless, the cast and crew can’t be
faulted for that.
Numbers to note in the production (in no particular order) include “Comes
a Train of Little Ladies,” or as some will remember it, the umbrella
scene due to artistic director Elizabeth Van Doorne’s creative choreography;
Greer and Holdsworth’s hilarious duet, “Were I not to Ko-Ko Plighted” and
Katisha’s aforementioned moving solo, all of which show musical director
Rod Culham’s great interpretation of a relatively weak score.