Topical Mikado's a hoot

PATRICK SHEPHERD
Last updated 08:31 25/11/2013
Luke Di Somma
Don Scott/Fairfax NZ
MASTERFUL: Musical director Luke Di Somma.

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Go and see it.

You are unlikely to see anything funnier or more energetic than The Court's outrageously good production of this old favourite. I have to say that I am not a Gilbert and Sullivan fan - school killed it for me - but I'm ringing the box office straight away to order my return tickets because I don't want to miss out, and you don't either.

Irreverent? Yes. Topical? Certainly - rewrites have been part of the tradition that has kept this musical alive and relevant for 130 years and this one certainly does that with EQC, Tony Marryatt, cellphones and all the paraphernalia of modern life, particularly in Christchurch right now, all squarely in the crosshairs of director Ross Gumbley and his mischievous production team.

Entertaining? Absolutely - I was glad of the interval, having laughed so much.

With a chorus of stunning deliciously clad women, side- slappingly funny noblemen and a stellar lineup of principals, this hits every button. Staging is simple but extremely effective, the costumes impeccable and the music, provided by a four- piece band of keyboards, bass and two percussionists, is a masterstroke by musical director Luke Di Somma, reducing the orchestral textures that at every turn smack of the Orient. These arrangements suit the small ensemble perfectly.

Nanki-Poo and Yum-Yum (Matt Macfarlane and Rachael Adams) played it straight and were very assured vocally with absolutely the right degree of innocence. Around them the madness of Ko-Ko's dilemma and the machinations of Pooh-Bah unwound, with both Damien Avery and Roy Snow respectively doing a fantastic job, very funny and beautifully judged. Rutene Spooner was suitably grandiose and effervescent as Pish-Tush.

Lynda Milligan is always a treat to watch on stage, revelling in the eponymous role as only she can. As the calculating Katisha, the wonderful Juliet Reynolds- Midgley sang gloriously, relishing her role and commanding the stage.

The Mikado runs to 18 January 2014.

The Mikado. The Court Theatre, 23 November. Reviewed by Patrick Shepherd.

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