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THE FRASER VALLEY GILBERT & SULLIVAN SOCIETY

The Mikado

Dates 17 - 28 May 2006 Venue The Surrey Arts Centre Studio Theatre

Reviewer Ed Farolan


I've lived in the North Delta-Surrey area for more than 15 years and have heard so much about this theatre society, but I never had a chance to see their shows. Finally, I managed to see their production of The Mikado in their opening night. And I found it extremely delightful!

The Mikado, or The Town of Titipu, is a comic operatta in two acts, with music by Arthur Sullivan and libretto by W. S. Gilbert. It opened on March 14 1885, in London, where it ran at the Savoy Theatre for 672 performances. Before the end of 1885 it was estimated that, in Europe and America, at least 150 companies were producing the opera. It remains the most frequently performed Savoy Opera, and it is especially popular with amateur school productions.

Indeed, The Mikado is possibly the most frequently played piece of musical theatre in history. Gilbert places the opera in an exotic locale, far away from England, so that he could more freely satirize English politics and institutions by disguising them as Japanese. Gilbert used foreign locales in several of his operattas, including The Mikado, The Gondoliers, Utopia Limited, The Grand Duke and Princess Ida, to soften the impact of his satire.

The production was well-received by a full-house on opening night. The costumes were colourful and spotless; the make-up was typical Japanese Noh drama, and in Noh tradition, the austere orchestra was unhidden from the audience with its players under musical director Mark Reid partially dressed in traditonal Japanese; and the set was simple but elegant.

Artistic Director Ryan Mooney did an excellent job as did choreographer Carol Seltz in bringing this show to a contemporary audience. The script was altered in some areas to reflect current events. A mention of Tom Cruise and J.K. Rowling in the "execution list," as well as the use of Visa, Mastercard, and other credit cards to facilitate payments.

I was amazed and delighted by the operatic prowess of Pauline Dynowski (Yum-Yum) and Megan Morrison (Katish), singing in their soprano voices; Peter McCreath in his bass singing voice; and the funny renditions of Mike Wild (Ko-Ko), Danny Wilhelm (Nanki-Poo), Barrie Mills (The Mikado), and Roger Hussen (Pish-Tush). Kaylee Harwood (Pitti-Sing) and Colleen Donnelly (Peep-Bo) did wonderfully in their supporting roles.

The Society, in existence since 1982, has produced other musicals that were not Gilbert's and Sullivan's, such as Hair (1996), The Fantsticks (1997), Mother Goose (2000), Cinderella (2002), and others.

2006 Ed Farolan