ONE FOR THE AMATEURS AND THE AFFECTIONADOS
The Mikado, Eastleigh Operatic and Musical Society, The Point, 8 - 12 May
A production for the Gilbert and Sullivan traditionalists with enough lyrical adaptations to entertain a crowd as young as its leading performers - the familiar combination of EOMS, 19th Century operetta and the cavernous Point are back.
While I confess to not having seen the full quartet of the society's renditions of The Mikado over its 75-year history, this one must surely be the best.
Led by a strong principal line-up, the show was markedly slicker than any of Eastleigh’s recent ventures. For the most part a disciplined chorus added to the polished feel while an array of cameos aided the snappy narrative. The supposedly ‘off-the-cuff’ material was perhaps a little too structured however and would have benefited from a bit of panto-style improv and breaks from character.
Act two in particular really went with a swing from one punchy G&S ditty to the next - Here’s a how-de-do being the pick of the bunch.
Top honours in the cast would have to go to those three little maids from school, Katherine Evans, Natalie Thorn and Ella Williams. Despite being dwarfed, both in the literal and metaphorical sense, by the stalwarts of Eastleigh G&S, the trio were in fine voice and brought a welcome youthfulness to the stage. Natalie was particularly impressive as a charismatic Pitti-Sing, confidently stealing scenes from the show’s biggest characters.
Of the male line-up, Peter Hill as The Mikado lived up to grandeur of the role. An entrance that so frequently falls short of the ceremonious build up, Hill had the ideal bellowing voice plus flamboyant makeup and costume for the revered emperor to conquer the stage with his opening line.
Frank Allen as Ko-Ko did justice to a witty list song and his jaunty comedic presence helped liven his scenes and the contrast in age and voice of Harry Butterwick as Nanki-Poo and the other men was another a nice touch.
And finally... ‘predictably larger than life’ was The Southern Daily Echo’s glowing critique of director David Tatnall’s performance as the multi-occupationed Pooh-Bah, and who could possibly argue with that.