Hot Mikado

 

CAST LIST

PRODUCTION TEAM

               
Nanki Poo Alan Emberson Katisha Jane Martin Pitti-Sing Elizabeth Howlett Director Barbara E Windsor
Yum-Yum Jacky Davis Pooh-Bah Lewis Wilmott Peep-Bo Cathie Pool Musical Director Gary Preston
Ko-Ko Adrian Palmer Pish-Tush Rick Thompsett The Mikado Mick Thompsett Choreographer Karen Broadbent
            Costumes Jane Purkiss
            Photography James Cook

 

Surrey Advertiser

Theo Spring

 

Sensational costumes and a powerful wall of chorus sound are just two of the highlights of this show as Wallington Operatic and Dramatic Society celebrate their 100th year of presenting amateur drama.

In his foreward, president Brian Lay hopes they have given pleasure to tens of thousands of people who have seen their shows over the years - they certainly do with this production.

A combination of every shade of red purple and orange and a lighting plot which is dramatic and full of similarly coloured gels, boost the costume colours. Designer Jane Purkiss uses sheen and gleam, with the gentlemen of Japan in satiny suits topped off with colourful Stetsons. In stark contrast, the Mikado is all in white brocade. The ladies sport equally hot colours which swirl and flow as they dance.

Out of a talented chorus, a team of dancers hoof and jive - Karen Broadbent's choreography blending with the changing rhythms and moods of the score.

Some musical numbers hold traces of the original G & S while others, like Braid the Raven Hair and The Sun and I keep almost to the original, albeit that the first was sung by Pish-Tush - a tuneful Ricky Thompsett, instead of the usual ladies' chorus.

Jacky Davis is a winsome Yum-Yum with a powerful singing voice, well matched by Alan Emberson as Nanki-Poo. Scat singing extraordinaire brings Pitti-Sing (a lively Elizabeth Howlett) into the limelight, with Cathie Poole as Peep-Bo and comedy is king whenever Adrian Palmer as Ko-Ko comes on the stage. His facial expressions bring laughs and his antics in Tit Willow receive deserved applause.

Not content with creating costumes, Jane Purkiss brings strident vindictiveness to Katisha, using her professional stage name (Martin) and mellow tones in her two solo numbers.

Ko-Ko's little list slanders many of today's celebs and puts horrid habits, like mobile phones, among the condemned. Lewis Wilmott, as the resplendent Pooh-Bah, carries all his high offices with ingratiating dignity.

Touches like the shadow curtain or Yum-Yum's bridal bower, the 'heavies' in shades to guard Mick Thompsett as a seemingly benevolent Mikado, and Pooh's Bar as part of the props all add individuality.

The experienced touch of director Barbara Windsor produces a show of professional standing, aided by musical director Gary Preston, well in control of the demanding score.

 

 

NODA

Theo Spring

 

The show, which is colourful, vibrant, slightly off-beat and very well directed is the perfect way to celebrate 100 years of giving amateur theatre-goers very good value for their money.

My congratulations to everyone involved in the production which is obviously the result of a tremendous amount of hard work.

The chorus work and costumes were outstanding.

Karen Broadbent divided her chorus into really good movers and shakers and those who were not quite so mobile. By this means she was able to create some superb numbers involving dancers, and included the others where the choreography was less demanding. This gave the dancing a feel of excellent quality whilst also involving everyone in the concerted numbers. Although it is non-pc to mention it, I must add that the standard of movement from the male dancers was particularly high in this production - the jive numbers in particular.

I spoke very highly of the costumes made for last year's production of My Fair Lady but the costumes for Hot Mikado do, I believe, deserve higher praise. The MFL costumes are a sterotype - design is in period and flair can only be used for colour and structure. For Hot Mikado, anything goes and wardrobe have dressed this in all manner of ways since it first opened. Jane Purkiss worked out her Teddy Boy template for the suits, creating them in wonderful hues of anything and everything from the warm colour spectrum. Having settled on the colours, she found material which gleamed and 'sheened', but didn't shine. These hues lit up wonderfully under the complementary gels and bathed the stage in warmth. The men's hats were inspired too - each matched the suit and was worn with a swagger. Care had been taken to make the principals stand out and thus Ko-Ko's black suit with its long jacket, cheky lining and outrageous red collar and lapels set him aside. In contrast, the Mikado's white brocade was regal and I loved his entrance, looking Japanese with the long wide sleeves and head-dress which transformed so cleverly into the best that might be seen at the Grand Old Oprey, Nashville.

Having said that anything goes for Hot Mikado, wardrobe created some beautiful kimonos - in particular the rich design for Yum-Yum's wedding dress.

There is much reliance in G & S on the vocal ability of the chorus, and this is certainly true for Hot Mikado. They took in their stride the demanding score and sent a wall of sound out into the auditorium. It was good to see some of the chorus get some small solos too.

Good voices have gravitated to WallOp over the years and this production really showed them off. Jacky Davis made a charming Yum-Yum, sweet and demure when she had to be, but able to pack a punch into some of the more upbeat numbers too. She came into her own with The Sun and I and blended well with Alan Emberson's Nanki-Poo. Although I found his wig a little off-putting (was it too big - I'm not sure?), his voice and characterisation of the role were first class. If I have a disappointment on any songs, it was the kissing duet. Where were all the kisses?

Yum-Yum's chums made quite an impact as they first appeared with her for Three Little Maids and later, Elizabeth Howlett as Pitti-Sing had her scat singing down to a fine art, ably assisted by Cathie Poole as Peep-Bo.

Lewis Wilmott lorded it grandly over Titipu with his many titles, aiding and abetting the comedy and adding stature beyond his years. I particularly liked the added 'business' of Pooh's Bar.

Unusually, it was Pish-Tush who sang Braid the Raven Hair as Yum-Yum prepared for her wedding day behind that effective shadow screen. Used to hearing this sung by 'maidens', it was, to me a welcome change of voice and put a different slant on the song altogether.

Not large in stature, Adrian Palmer still managed to dominate the stage whenever he appeared as Ko-Ko. His comedy timing was faultless and his rendering of Tit Willow enough to woo and win a lady even harder than the vindictive Katisha. When on stage, he seemed to be everyone at once and never missed an opportunity for a facial funny, if a spoken one was inappropriate.

Jane Martin (alias Jane Purkiss) commanded the stage with both her presence and her voice. Her Katisha may not have been quite as ugly as the part is often portrayed, but her iron will came over clear and strong. Watching her melt under Ko-Ko's advances was only topped by the disrobing and the dishabille in which she finished Beauty in the Bellow. Both Katisha's solo numbers commanded attention and turning the whole cast upstage for The Hour Of Gladness worked dramatically well.

Being cast as The Mikado is always a slightly thankless task as there is the whole of Act 1 to go until your entrance. However, when it came, Mick Thompsett certainly made it count and kept the impact going right through to the final curtain. I enjoyed the sympathy which he gave out, understanding totally the difficulties in which his subjects found themselves, but still handing out the punishment with real relish.

The hours of rehearsing both for the singing and the moves paid off with a show which was slick and sure of itself. Gary Preston brought good musicians together under his MD baton and the music pulsed along.

But back to where I started. The overview of the whole show is the directors and I offer huge congratulations to Barbara Windsor and thank her, on behalf of all the audience who came to see the show during its five-day run, for an excellent, exciting and unusual show - and the programme design was rather special too!