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The Mikado

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  • tillysandi
    Recently, my husband and I saw a production of THE MIKADO in St. Charles, IL. The setting was modern day Japan. The first act took place in a subway station.
    Message 1 of 2 , Jul 26, 2005
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      Recently, my husband and I saw a production of THE MIKADO in St.
      Charles, IL.
      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 Pu—red 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
      soap operas.

      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" attire—t-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 echo—like a
      pop ballad.

      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 me—I'll go with!


      Sandi (Olsen) Homan
    • tillysandi
      Gee, I wish this website had an edit feature. I forgot to tell you--the web site for the company is www.noblefool.org and the show is called: The Mikado
      Message 2 of 2 , Jul 26, 2005
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        Gee, I wish this website had an "edit" feature.

        I forgot to tell you--the web site for the company is
        www.noblefool.org

        and the show is called: The Mikado version 2.005

        Sandi
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