Blistering performance of Hot Mikado is a big hit

St Andrews Musical Society perform Hot Mikado at the Byre Theatre, February 2016. Thomas Ware as Nanki Pooh. All pictures copyright of St Andrews Musical Association/John Stewart
St Andrews Musical Society perform Hot Mikado at the Byre Theatre, February 2016. Thomas Ware as Nanki Pooh. All pictures copyright of St Andrews Musical Association/John Stewart
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The Hot Mikado takes Gilbert and Sullivan’s original score and gives it a mighty lift – and St Andrews Musical Society turned it into a big hit with its audiences.

The melodies are still there but the re-orchestration uses 1940s popular musical harmonies and arrangements and a wide range of styles including jazz, hot gospel, blues and rock and boy did it work.

Julia Campbell Hanna Nicholls and Kirsty McBain

Julia Campbell Hanna Nicholls and Kirsty McBain

Even traditional G&S aficionados were clapping along and enjoying this lively reinterpretation.

The show sticks closely to the original story – Nanki-Poo is still the son of the Mikado, he still falls in love with Yum Yum and it still ends happily, but the story is now set in a 40s nightclub in the USA.

Several in jokes about being Japanese connected the action to the original.

The setting allows for the introduction of great dance routines, cleverly choreographed by Donna Reilly.

It was great to see nearly all the cast up on their feet and dancing, even during a tap routine.

This was no static chorus, they had each developed their own character and contributed to the lively nightclub atmosphere, as did having the band on stage.

The costumes were wonderful, zoot suits, swirling dresses, croupiers and barmaids outfits. Katisha’s black leather ensemble was just stunning. The set was cleverly designed to be a convincing American nightclub while still retaining the Japanese influence.

All the singing was of a very high standard and once again Robert Nee, as musical director, must be congratulated for this.

Jeanine Nicholls as Lady of Japan.

Jeanine Nicholls as Lady of Japan.

Thomas Ware, making his debut with the company, sang well as Nanki-Poo and brought to the character a lightness of touch that worked well.

Julia Campbell sang beautifully as Yum Yum. I particularly enjoyed her interpretation of the lilting song ‘The Sun and I’.

‘ Three Little Maids’ is a well-known song from the show and for this Julia was joined by Kirsty McBain, as Pitti-Sing and Hannah Nicholls, as Peep-Bo, singing in the style of the Andrews Sisters. They nearly stole the show.

Kirsty also led several other numbers, including the lively ‘He’s Going to Marry Yum Yum’.

Hannah Nicholls as Peep Bo

Hannah Nicholls as Peep Bo

Roy Verner played Pish-Tush, the ‘Coolest’ gentleman of Japan, and led the men’s chorus in a sensitive rendition of ‘Braid the Raven Hair’ a number sung by the women’s chorus in the original Mikado.

Pooh Bah, the conniving and bribe taking ‘Lord High Everything Else’ was played convincingly by Andrew Kyle.

Steve Pimentil made a big entrance as The Mikado, the ‘Big Cat of Japan’, and sang rather well thereafter.

There was no mistaking the energy, talent and experience that Audrey Dishington and Alan Tricker brought to the stage as they nailed the characters of Katisha and Koko.

Audrey has a wonderful voice. I particularly enjoyed the plaintive ballad ‘Alone and Yet Alive’. I almost felt sorry for her blood-thirsty character.

The part of Koko allowed Alan to demonstrate his great comic timing and versatility. His rendition of’ Tit Willow’ was perfect.

Julia Campbell as Yum Yum.

Julia Campbell as Yum Yum.

The audience appeared to thoroughly enjoy this version of the Mikado. It was lively, it was colourful but most of all it was fun!

Roy Verner as Pish Tush

Roy Verner as Pish Tush

Audrey Dishington as Katisha.

Audrey Dishington as Katisha.