I was pretty sure I would like this production and my anticipation was moderate;but I was wrong. I loved it! From the moment I perused the beautifully designed programme, with stunning artwork by Alison Fort, it was evident I was in for a treat. Director Nathan Quadrio has cleverly merged this neat austerity and economy of design onto the stage with an effective simple set and nicely understated costuming. Movement and routines were similarly smooth and fitting. The whole package worked very well.
Orchestration was excellent. A perfect choice and combination of instruments well managed and conducted by Monique Warren produced a nicely balanced backdrop for some exceptional voices in a strong and even cast. I thought the musical treatment here was how I imagine an Edwardian production might have sounded. Like the audience, I was most impressed.
The ensemble work was flawless. The Chorus (both choruses!) sounded great and sound was enhanced by subtle audio and complemented by a nicely managed lighting plot.
It was a strong and even cast. Stephen Tulip as Pish-Tush was vocally strong and true as were maids Amanda Sharp and Amie Graham. The trio of “Three Little Maids” with the female chorus is always a winner! Sandy Wandel created a colourful and powerful elder maid Katisha using her costume and ornamental cane to great effect. She certainly made her presence felt in more ways than one! Russell Ford as the Mikado also had his moments in command and I liked his take on ” A more humane Mikado”.
Nathan Quadrio’s fine voice was perfect for the role of Pooh-Bah and he nailed those lower registry notes admirably. I really enjoyed the trio “I am so proud” with Ko-Ko and Pish-Tush. I acknowledge it is a difficult enough task to try and oversee the staging of a show let alone be a principal cast member too. Nanki-Poo was nicely underplayed and injected with appealing humanity by Benjamin Fleming whose “A wandering minstrel” proved a most effective vehicle for his vocal range.
I really enjoyed Dione Baker’s performance as Yum-Yum. Vocally powerful and clear she was an energetic audience favourite. Her rendition of “The sun, whose rays are all ablaze” was lovely. She and Nanki-Poo worked very well together. She is a real talent.
However the character who stole the show was Paul Briske as Ko-Ko. He invested his character with great knockabout energy and wry humour. The audience loved the updated lyrics and dialogue which was quite clever and witty and the accidental “death” of the First Trombone was hilarious! I even, somewhat begrudgingly, appreciated the Baby Boomer reference! The “Tit-Willow” song was a highlight.
I had not been to Titipu for quite some time. I’m so glad I went for another visit.The Mikado
Northern Light Theatre Company
The Shedley Theatre
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