Empire’s last fling

The Singapore Mikado

By Gilbert & Sullivan
Directed by David Fuller
Theater Ten Ten
Park Avenue Christian Church building
1010 Park Ave. (between 84th and 85th Sts.; 212/288-3246 ext. 3)
Equity showcase (closes Mar. 28)
Reviewed by Seth Bisen-Hersh

The Singapore Mikado is a delightful, vivacious revival of the Gilbert & Sullivan masterpiece framed by the conceit that the audience is watching a production of the show in Singapore during World War II.

The plot of The Mikado follows the son of the Mikado, who disguises himself as a minstrel named Nanki-Poo. He flees his home because the Mikado has decreed he marry a homely, older woman, Katisha. Nanki-Poo falls in love with Yum-Yum, who is supposed to marry her guardian, the Lord Executioner, Ko-Ko. The Mikado is upset with Ko-Ko for not killing anyone recently, so he is on the hunt for a head to decapitate. Much chaos and cleverness ensue, including a fake execution and a marriage under duress, but a joyous happy ending is had for all.

The show is one of Gilbert & Sullivan’s finest. There are a plethora of catchy and witty numbers, many of which are renowned including: "A wand'ring minstrel I," "Three little maids from school," and "Tit-willow." The script is full of humor and joviality. In this production, the happy ending is cut short by the frame reality in Singapore. A major defeat has just happened and doom is impending, which adds an extra touching layer to otherwise the cheerful proceedings.

The cast was full of great voices and comic timing. Highlights included Martin Fox as Nanki-Poo -- in addition to having a rich tenor, he played the accordion, too! Greg Horton and David Tillistrand were hilarious and in great voice as the nefarious but charismatic Ko-ko and Pooh-Bah (who reluctantly accepted many town positions, as well as their salaries). Finally, as Katisha, Cristiane Young brought the house down with her woeful aria, "Alone, and yet alive."

David Fuller’s direction kept the show moving amiably. The stage was always used to the full, as well, and entrances and exits were creatively made throughout the house. Joel Gelpe’s musical direction kept the harmony sounding tight and in tune. Judith Jarosz provided charming choreography. Viviane Galloway’s costumes were lively and brightly colorful. Finally, Robert Eberle’s lights kept both the stage and occasionally the piano and front of the audience aptly well-lit.

Overall, Theater Ten Ten presented a polished, whimsical production. Absolutely adorable and beautifully sung, this production was a great introduction to the world of Gilbert & Sullivan and is highly recommended to persons of all ages.

Box Score:

Writing: 2
Directing: 2
Acting: 2
Set: 1
Costumes: 2
Lighting/Sound: 1

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Copyright 2006 Seth Bisen-Hersh