THE MIKADO, or The Town of Titipu at Richmond Theatre, Surrey
“A feast for the eyes as well as the ears”
Sasha Regan has created a reputation of touring large-scale Gilbert & Sullivan - with HMS Pinafore and The Pirates of Penzance under her belt, it was inevitable she would focus upon The Mikado.
What’s so special about her vision? The cast is always men.
Regan’s All Male company is, to put it simply, terrific. In this modern age of amplification and jukebox musicals, this is a beautiful example (rare, nowadays) of performers projecting into the auditorium with emotion and clarity. If mumbling tv actors annoy you, refresh your batteries and see this production as it tours the UK. You’ll sigh with satisfaction.
There is not much that is camp about men playing the women’s parts, they are simply - dare I say it? - acting. The ‘camp’ is left to the setting - like a naughty and frivolous expedition in the woods, the boys roleplay, dance and sing as we segue effortlessly from woodland to rural Japan.
They act as well as they sing, too.
[Richard Munday as Nanki-Poo]
Richard Munday plays Nanki-Poo (the wand’ring minstrel), in search for his love, Yum-Yum, relished by Alan Richardson.
[Alan Richardson as Yum-Yum]
The chemistry between them and the whole ensemble was beautiful to see, as every single moment on stage has been choreographed to the nth degree, each joke highlighted, each note punctuated. A feast for the eyes as well as the ears.
Ko-Ko, the cowardly High Executioner, is wonderfully portrayed by David McKechnie. His is one of the famous G&S parts, sought after because he can truly show a range of character. His romance and flirtation with Katisha (a matronly Alex Weatherhill) is genuinely lovely - removing all traces of The Muppets’ version of On A Tree By A River (Tit Willow) for me (if you don’t know what I mean, Google it!).
[David McKechnie as Ko-Ko with Alex Weatherhill as Katisha]
Regan’s direction is crisp and Holly Hughes’ choreography is smooth and imaginative. The music is from one keyboard: Richard Baker playing and conducting throughout.
The whole show brought gasps of delight from the audience. Tempered only by a lull in Act Two, around The Mikado’s scenes, as though James Waud was acting ever-so-slightly in a different show, the whole piece is genuinely a joy to behold.
Running Time: 2 hours 10 minutes (plus an interval)
Booking at individual theatres, plus www.allmalemikado.com
Twitter: @allmalemikado, #AllMaleMikado
Production photographs © Stewart McPherson
30 - 31 May East Riding Theatre, Beverley
1 - 3 June The Spa Theatre, Bridlington
6 - 10 June Northcott Theatre, Exeter
13 - 17 June Theatre Royal, Brighton
27 June - 1 July Arts Theatre, Cambridge
4 - 8 July Festival Theatre, Malvern
13 - 15 July Hall for Cornwall, Truro
17 - 19 July Dorking Halls, Dorking
20 - 22 July Theatre Severn, Shrewsbury
25 - 29 July Quays Theatre, The Lowry, Salford