The Mikado

St Andrews Gilbert and Sullivan Society with Mermaids Performing Arts return to the Festival Fringe with their typically entertaining style of presenting Gilbert & Sullivan, this time with their own take on The Mikado. As always they are faithful to both score and libretto, but make the most of the traditional liberties allowed with I’ve Got a Little List. Audiences always wait with eager anticipation to hear who will make it on to Ko-Ko’s register of reprehensibles who “never would be missed”. It doesn’t disappoint, hitting some predictable targets, so let’s stick with the format and work through the cast list.

Traditionally played by a large grandiose figure with a terrifying voice, all convention is thrown to the wind

Peter Sutton, based on previous performances, is inevitably cast as Ko-Ko. Cutting a dashing figure, he romps through this celebrated song. As always he relishes every moment on stage and his strong voice meets all the demands of the role. Never one to shy away from giving an exuberant performance, this one was somewhat excessive, even by his standards.

Peter Cushley portrays an appropriately forlorn Nanki-Poo but looks somewhat out of place in his red sleeveless jumper. The register of his songs sometimes doesn’t suit his voice which tended to be shaky, particularly in the upper register, but there’s sensitivity in his rendition of Willow Titwillow. Teddy Day takes on the many occupations of Pooh-Bah with yet another excessively eccentric interpretation, but enhances the singing throughout. Freddie Mack as Pish-Tush ably leads the men’s chorus in Our Great Mikado that was strong throughout, creating deeply rich harmonies. Will Hutton’s Mikado, were it to be more widely seen, would probably make the operetta’s history book. Traditionally played by a large grandiose figure with a terrifying voice, all convention is thrown to the wind as he enters looking rather like a young Julian Clary, giving a completely understated performance with an ironic twist on From Every Kind Of Man Obedience I Expect. The sequined jacket is eye-catching, but had he really been the Mikado I fear there might have been a coup.

Alice Gold’s Katisha on the other hand would have struck fear into the entire court. Aged only nineteen, her commanding presence and vivid costume quite rightly dominates large parts of Act 2. Her voice provides a classic treatment to those songs that require moments of rasping contralto. Caitlin McDonnell coyly plays Yum-Yum and her singing is a delight, as is that of Emilia Wright as Peep-Bo and Rachel Lawson as Pitti-Sing, making up the three little maids. The female chorus is well balanced with the men’s and alone sang in suitably sweet tones.

Laura Briody directed this fun performance around the venue’s notorious pillar, giving enjoyment to cast and audience alike, ably assisted by Rebecca Anderson the musical director, James Green the repetiteur, Libby Cavaye the technician and Hannah Ward the producer. As for the rest, well of course they’ll all be missed, but maybe some more than others. Perhaps next year just rein it in a little.

Reviews by Richard Beck

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The Blurb

Following the tremendous success of last year’s production of The Pirates of Penzance, Mermaids Performing Arts Fund and St Andrews Gilbert and Sullivan Society return to the Fringe with The Mikado, Gilbert and Sullivan’s most popular comic opera. The Mikado is a fantastically funny satire on Britain, set in Japan. Nanki-Poo is in love with Yum-Yum. However, her guardian Ko-Ko, the Lord High Executioner of Titipu, has eyes on her himself. Can true love triumph? And what will happen when an execution is demanded? With Gilbert's witty one-liners and Sullivan's catchy tunes – join us to find out!

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