- Recently, my husband and I saw a production of THE MIKADO in St.
The setting was modern day Japan. The first act took place in a
subway station. The Gentlemen of Japan were businessmen in button
down suits, with cell phones, pda's, and briefcases. Before the
curtain (which was a large transit map of Titi Pured line,
yellow line, green line, etc) there were projections on both sides
of the proscenium of Japanese videos, commercials, and commuter
trains. Just before the overture, there was an announcement in
Japanese with the English words projected. It was the "please turn
off your cell phones and pagers" announcement that generally asked
the audience not to be annoying. It was very cute, as the announcer
took off on a tangent about this being the only part he plays in the
production, and how he spent years learning the language, and now
his parents can go home, since they won't see him onstage.
A commuter train pulls in off stage (lights, noise, bells) and the
gentlemen disgorge in a flurry. NankiPoo wanders into the station
with a "Mister Microphone" Karaoke boom box. He's dressed pretty
punk, with bleached blond spikes coming out of his dark roots. They
have not changed a word of the lyrics, and it works quite well.
NankiPoo is played very effectively as a cross between Keanu Reeves
(ala "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure") and Ashton
Kutcher from "That 70's Show". He stays in character throughout.
PoohBah and PishTush are button down businessmen and Pooh keeps
track of all of his personalities on his Palm Pilot. The chorus are
drinking Sake and reading tabloids, including one with KoKo in the
headlines. The lyrics are projected on the sides.
KoKo arrives dressed as a prison trustee (grey jumpsuit with numbers
over the pocket); his "Little List" is delivered as a Power
Point presentation from his Blackberry with pictures of current
personalities to match the names on the list. Again, the words
weren't altered. Bo Bice, the guy from American Idol, is the
"tenor serenader". KoKo is reminiscent of the type of characters
Matthew Broderick plays.
The schoolgirls are dressed in white Middy Jumpers, short black
pleated skirts, and are equipped with "Hello Kitty" oversized
back packs. They reminded me of those Asian cartoons that are like
The song "I Am So Proud" is performed at a Beni Hanna type
table, with the clever- wielding chef providing percussion (the chef
turns out to be the Mikado, later).
Katisha is played like a female "Dr. Evil" from the Austin
Powers movies. She ends up in black leather dominatrix attire.
Act two takes place in a room in KoKo's house. The girls are now
dressed in teenaged "kashz" attiret-shirts, capris;
they've highlighted their hair with pink and blue. Only Yum Yum is
dressed traditionally in a wedding kimono. She sings verse one
of "The Sun Who's Rays" straight, although her voice could have been
stronger. Then she belts out the second verse with an echolike a
A trio (guitar, trombone, and accordion) dressed in Cowboy attire
(fringed shirts) arrives "to play for the wedding", and
accompanies "Here's a Howdy Do". That was very cute.
The Mikado's arrival is conducted as a press conference. Members
of the chorus are news reporters, camera men, and secret service.
"A More Humane Mikado" again is performed with pictures projected on
the sides of current politicians and personalities as playing cards
(like the most wanted were for the war in Iraq). During the song,
one chorus member keeps butting in because he doesn't "get
it" when the others are laughing, the Mikado nods to his body guard,
who muscles the poor guy off stage, and we hear him dispatched.
All in all, it was a very enjoyable production. We saw it in
preview, so there were some bugs to be worked out. But we'd
gladly go again (if we can find the time). This is a semi
professional production with three or four equity performers. The
voices could be stronger, as I said before, but they sort of made up
for it with the "pop" versions of the songs. The music was
performed by "The Wasabi 4" who were back stage. They played a
variety of instruments, but it sounded like a synthesizer was
involved. It fit, though, and I wasn't really reminded
of "Ruddigore on Elm Street".
I did have to sit on my hands at times when I wanted to snap an
imaginary fan. And there were some very traditional movements
during many of the numbers. My husband caught me trying to, very
subtly do the " joy reigns every where around" hand clap. It
brought back very fond memories of Ruth Stein.
If you get to the Chicago area this summer, it's worth an evening
of your time to check this out. Call meI'll go with!
Sandi (Olsen) Homan
- Gee, I wish this website had an "edit" feature.
I forgot to tell you--the web site for the company is
and the show is called: The Mikado version 2.005