Thursday, 28 May 2009

Hot Mikado - Queens Theatre, Hornchurch

Hot Mikado
Book and lyrics: David H Bellmusic
Adaptor and arranger: Rob Bowman
Director: Matt Devitt

The Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch happens to be my local theatre, but for some reason I’ve not really been there much in recent years…In fact, my first theatre memory is of Peter Pan at Queen’s in about 1986, so it has a special place in my heart.#

Matt Devitt directs a ten-strong ensemble, actor/musician cast in their current production of Hot Mikado; the ‘jazzed up version’ of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Mikado. The story centres around Nanki-Poo (Sam Kordbacheh), who turns up in the Japanese town of Titipu looking for his love, Yum-Yum (Natasha Moore) who is engaged to her guardian – the Lord High Executioner, Ko-Ko (Shaun Hennessy). Unbeknownst to the townspeople, Nanki-Poo is actually son of The Mikado (Stuart Organ) and was previously betrothed to the ‘battleaxe’ Katisha (Kim Ismay).

I know the score to this musical fairly well, but unfortunately the sound balance was not quite right for the performance I saw, meaning that it was difficult to hear all the lyrics; which are very witty at times, and really tell the story in an almost recitative style. Despite this, the musicianship of the actors is excellent.

Jane Milligan who plays Pitti-Sing, and Rowan Talbot as Poo-Bah are particularly versatile musically whilst also turning out interesting performances. Milligan has a lovely voice, and really uses the lyrics during her solo sections whilst swapping between vocal and saxophone at lightning quick speed.

Georgina Field plays the squeaky schoolgirl Peep-Bo whilst performing with similar dexterity on various saxophones and clarinet. Shaun Hennessy delivers a very funny Bilko-like Ko-Ko, complete with slap-stick sections of physical comedy, and Phil Silvers intonation! Kim Ismay’s Katisha is like an old-fashioned cabaret star, singing her solos with Minelli-like signature movements.

Mark Walters’ set design was very elaborate and really gave us a feeling of an oriental town, but I felt the costumes were overly large, and made the actors feel quite pantomimic. Overall, the show was very enjoyable, and celebrates the versatility of actor musicians, as only Queen’s Theatre can do!
Photos: Nobby Clark
Hot Mikado runs until Sat 13th June
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