Witty, pretty, playful `Mikado'
in the park
Gilbert & Sullivan aficionados will be pleased with ``The
Mikado'' at Musicals at Richter in Danbury;
it's eye-catchingly designed and boasts strong vocal talent in most of the major
Theatergoers familiar with Yum-Yum, Nanki-Poo, Ko-Ko and Pooh-Bah will
be rewarded anew with their outrageous romantic schemes, set to Sullivan's lilting,
precisely constructed music. The combination has been a theatrical treasure for
more than 100 years.
Tom Cochrane, doing double duty as director and set
designer, has imagined a stately Oriental courtyard that blends nicely with the
real-life gardens of Richter Park _ there's even a bubbling waterfall onstage.
The two dozen players have been dressed by Yvette Beausoleil in costumes of shimmering
``The Mikado,'' subtitled ``The Town of Titipu,'' is among
the most popular of the 13 Gilbert & Sullivan operettas. While their works
are favorites with audiences of all ages, those who appreciate Gilbert's witty
patter songs and intelligent lyrics will be most rewarded. Younger audiences will
get a kick out of the horseplay and broad, often silly, characters.
complicated story, set in Japan a century ago, is one of mistaken identities and
thwarted love. Nanki-Poo, resoundingly sung by Bret Poulter, is the son of the
Mikado, the emperor of Japan. Traveling in disguise, he looks for Yum-Yum (Sybil
Haggard), a maiden with whom he fell in love at first sight.
she is promised to Ko-Ko (Scott R. Brill), an insignificant tailor. When Ko-Ko
is imprisoned for the crime of flirting, Nanki-Poo returns to the town of Titipu
to pursue his love.
Reunited, Nanki-Poo and Yum-Yum then find their happiness
threatened when Ko-Ko is freed and given the surprising position of Lord High
Executioner. He intrigues to win Yum-Yum back with the help of Pooh-Bah (Gary
Shell) _ Lord High ``Everything Else'' and the quintessential flimflam man.
conniving spins the plot into some funny business about beheading, following the
Mikado's edict that an example of capital punishment is long overdue in Titipu.
On the surface, this ruler appears to be rather coldblooded, but David Dressler
finds fun in the part and his Mikado is more amusing than alarming.
is Katisha (Priscilla Squiers), an aging but determinedly amorous lady of the
court who has claimed Nanki-Poo for her own. With painted lips that proceed her
body by a foot, she swerves dangerously across the stage like an out-of-control
rickshaw and steals the show.
In addition to Poulter's consistently persuasive
work, Haggard's sweetly sung Yum-Yum is a stand out. Other commendable vocal contributions
include those of Karen Weaver as Pitti-Sing and Nicolle Sanders as Peep-Bo. They
team with Haggard in one of the show's most memorable numbers, ``Three Little
Maids from School Are We.''
Cochrane has directed the sizable production with
considerable flair. Thursday's preview was a little rough around the edges _ dress
rehearsal had been rained out _ but things should be smoothed out for subsequent
Except for the occasional lag in the pacing, ``The Mikado'' is
enjoyable summer fare. ``The Mikado'' continues through July 13 at Musicals at
Richter, Richter Park, 100 Aunt Hack Road, Danbury. Performances are Fridays through
Sundays at 8:30 p.m., with the park opening at 7:15 for picnics. Tickets are $14,
$12 for seniors, $10 for students and children. Call 748-MUSE.