Hot Mikado jounces and jives at the Gateway Theatre.
Photo by Ben Krantz Studio.
HOT MIKADO: Musical. Book and Lyrics by David H. Bell. Music Adapted and Arranged by Rob Bowman. Based on “The Mikado” by W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan. Directed and choreographed by Jeffrey Polk ; Music direction by Dave Dobrusky. 42nd Street Moon, Gateway Theatre, 215 Jackson St., San Francisco. Box Office: 415/255-8207 or www.42ndstmoon.org.
Hot Mikado jounces and jives at the Gateway Theatre. Rating:
If I am not mistaken there is a line “Gilbert and Sullivan should see me now!’ late in the second act when Brando Noel Thomas as the Mikado flounces on and off stage in 42nd Street Moon’s sprightly production of the irreverent Hot Mikado that is a spoof of the endearing operetta The Mikado. It is a satire of a satire with 1940s jitterbugging, tap dancing and even an Andrew Sister’s-take off of “Three Little Maids” that are highlights in this upbeat production. However, if you are aficionado of the D’Oyly Carte original staging there may be some misgivings about the show. But that probably would be a minority view.
42nd Street Moon has put together a fantastic multi-racial cast that creates enough energy for two or three shows. The scene has been updated to the 1940s Japan with the plot line almost intact and the songs re-orchestrated into “a wide range of styles, including jazz, hot gospel, blues, rock, Cab Calloway swing, and torch songs. Dances include the Lindy Hop, tap-dancing, the jitterbug and other 1940s styles.”
This is not the first staging to bring the play into the jitterbug area but David Bell’s take is extremely ambitious with W. S. Gilbert’s story intact using copious bits of dialog/lyrics and . snatches of Arthur Sullivan’s melodies that are quite recognizable.
To buttress the laudable singing and dancing they have backed up Dave Dobrusky’s piano with a combo of drums, bass/ guitar and woodwinds that add class to the shenanigans.
Even though the plot is convoluted there is no need to check Wikipedia’s detailed discussion. Briefly young Nanki-Poo (Jean Paul Jones), a trumpet playing minstrel wanders into the town of Titipu searching for his love Yum-Yum (Lucca Troutman) who is betrothed to Ko-Ko (Jaron Vesely) who through conspiring with Poo-Bah (Kelly Houston) becomes the High Lord Executioner. It just happens the Nanki-Po is the son of the Mikado and Nanki-Po is promised to Katisha (Michelle Ianiro). Ko-Ko with Poo-Bah’s help arranges for Nanki-Po to be beheaded in order to prevent the town from being degraded to the level of a village. You know that cannot be and through song and dance on a gorgeous set with the cast in costumes that include Japanese flare and 1940s garb including even a Zoot Suit amongst many others.
The main actors all have excellent voices earning individual honors. Michelle Ianiro has two show stopping torch songs “The Hour of Gladness” and ”Alone and Yet Alive.” The plethora dancing is infectious keeping the audience upbeat while the story unfolds. Kudos to director/choreographer Jeffery Polk and music directors Dave Dobrusky and Jon Gallo.
Running time two hours an 10 minutes with an intermission. The entire production earns a “should see” rating.
CAST: Christine Capsuto-Shulman as “Peep-Bo”; Kelly Houston as “Poo-Bah”; Michelle Ianiro as “Katisha”; Jean-Paul Jones as “Nanki-Poo”; Janelle LaSalle as “Female Ensemble”; Lindsey Meyer as “Female Ensemble”; Mike A. Motroni as “Male Ensemble”; Vinh G. Nguyen as “Male Ensemble”; Jon-David Randle as “Pish-Tush”; Nick Rodrigues as “Male Ensemble”; Amie Shapiro as “Pitti-Sing”; Branden Noel Thomas as “Mikado”; Lucca Troutman as “Yum-Yum”; and Jaron Vesely as “Ko-Ko.”
CREATIVE TEAM: Directed and choreographed by Jeffrey Polk; Music director Dave Dobrusky; Jon Gallo as Co-Vocal Director; Marisely O. Cortes Fonseca Costume Designer; Bethany Deal as Associate Costume Designer; Michael Palumbo as Lighting Designer; Mark Mendelson as Scenic Designer; Lauren Howry as Assistant Stage Manager; and Alicia Lerner as Stage
Kedar K. Adour, MD
Courtesy of www.theatreworldim2.com.