Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Hot Mikado - Lowry Theatre, Salford

Hot Mikado
Based on The Mikado by Gilbert & Sullivan
Book & Lyrics adapted by David H Bell
Music adapted and arranged by Rob Bowman
Director/Choreographer: Craig Revel Horwood
Reviewer: Kevin Byrnes

Out of this World...Simply Stunning...Best thing I have seen in a long time, those were just a few of the snippets of conversations I overheard as I left the Lowry Theatre last night for the latest musical theatre production to grace the Quay’s stage and I have to agree with each and every one of those aforementioned comments.

Craig Revel Horwood, better known for his place on the judging panel for hit BBC programme Strictly Come Dancing, has once again partnered up with the Watermill Theatre and long time collaborator Sarah Travis to bring a show that is simply lavish and beautifully extravagant.

Nanki-Poo has ran away from his older bride to be Katisha, disguised as a second trumpet player he searches for his one true love Yum-Yum. The problem lies that Ko-Ko the High Chief Executioner is set to marry Yum-Yum himself, and will let nothing get in the way of his marital bliss. With the ever impending threat of execution on all in the village by the laws imposed by the ruler The Mikado, a clever plot is hatched where in true Musical theatre form they can all live happily ever after.

One of this productions strengths lies in the highly energised and talented ensemble, this 15 strong cast play a multitude of musical instruments live on stage without the use of any score sheets in sight, they all dance wilst playing, the all have amazing singing voices and can all act, I have heard of triple threats before but a company full of quadruple threats is really something to behold.

Neil Ditt as Dit-Sum had real stage presence throughout the piece as the welsh side kick to Julian Littmans hilarious and exentric portrayal of Pooh –Bah. Dominic Tighe as Nanki-Poo had a certain charisma that wouldn’t look out of place in a Disney film and edges on just the right side of cheesiness to make it work – however his singing voice is stunning with a melting blend of baratone high and lows one could listen to him all day. Cassie Pearson also has a voice to die for and when given the chance to shine really has a powerhouse voice that can leave you in awe. Jeffrey Harmer as Ko-Ko and his rendition of ‘I’ve Got A Little List,’ being delightfully delicious and comedic and a real highlight of this production.

Horwood has shown the musical theatre world how a musical should be directed, with a clean fresh approach, that sizzles with sexiness and charged so highly with energy it would give the Duracell bunny a run for it’s money. Horwood has also updated the script with several modern references throughout ,which brings the play bang up to date, giving the production an air of fun not only for the audience watching but it allows the actors on stage to have a certain freedom whilst performing. Horwood also dons the Choreographers hat and although there were Jazz hands a plenty in the dance routines, they never felt over done or out of place, but instead helped keep the pace of the production to a good speed.

The beautiful set and costume designs by Diego Pitarch are a sight to behold, His Kabuki hut setting was not only clean and minimalist, but add on top the stunning lighting design by Richard G Jones and we are given a smorgasbord of visual delights.

It really is rare for a reviewer to experience a show where you can’t find fault, all I can say is if you don’t get a ticket for this then you really do deserve to sit in solemn silence in a dull, dark dock, In a pestilential prison, with a lifelong lock, awaiting the sensation of a short, sharp shock, From a cheap and chippy chopper on a big black block.

Photos: Robert Day
Runs until Sat 10th Oct
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