Book and Lyrics Adapted by David H. Bell
Music Adapted and Arranged by Rob Bowman
Based on “The Mikado” by W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan
Director/Choreographer Jeffrey Polk
Music Director Dave Dobrusky
Gilbert and Sullivan’s widely popular 1885 comic opera The Mikado is successfully transported to a hip jazz club replete with stylized zoot suits, swing dance and jive language in 42nd Street Moon’s upbeat production. Creators Bell and Bowman created this adaptation of the 1939 Broadway musical, mostly lost to history, keeping close to the storyline of The Mikado with its satirizing of politics and society in general. 42nd Street Moon’s production, directed and choreographed by Jeffrey Polk amps up the energy through 1940’s dance styles (Lindy Hop, tap and jitterbug) along with Dave Dobrusky’s musical direction of the score featuring jazz, gospel, blues, swing and torch songs.
The score uses much of Sullivan’s original music re-orchestrated and tweaked to sound more modern (the “Three Little Maids” is presented ala The Andrews Sisters). The ensemble cast shines throughout, all singing, all dancing all the time. The storyline follows The Mikado, with silly characters often forgetting they’re Japanese. The plot follows the residents of Titipu, a town turned upside down by the arrival of Nanki-Poo (Jean-Paul Jones), a travelling trumpet player looking for his lost love Yum Yum (Lucca Troutman). She’s about to marry Ko-Ko, the Lord High Executioner (Jaron Vesley), but of course, in true comic love story style, nothing goes quite as planned.
Love is lot, love found, lost again and, you guessed it. 42nd Street moon always casts well, and this ensemble is solid throughout. Some standout performances are delivered by Kelly Houston as Poo-Bah, Brandon Noel Thomas as The Mikado and Michele Ianiro as Katisha. The plot is as crazy as you’d expect from a Gilbert & Sullivan comedy and director Polk allows the cast to revel in the fun. Hot Mikado is a sweet, engaging diversion from the chaos and angst many of us experience on a daily basis. You don’t leave scratching your head but feeling silly and satisfied.
Hot Mikado continues through October 13, 2019 at the Gateway Theatre, 215 Jackson Street, San Francisco. Tickets available at www.42ndstmoon.org or by calling 415-255-8207.
Photos by Ben Krantz