The Mikado

May 2008 at Vandyke Upper School

A classic Gilbert and Sullivan comic opera, set in Japan.

Nanki-Poo, the son of the Mikado, leaves home and disguises himself as a musician to escape a distasteful marriage - and meets a beautiful girl, Yum-Yum, with whom he falls in love. He desperately wants to marry her, but obstacles are cast in his way by Yum-Yum's guardian, Ko-Ko, the Lord High Executioner, who is also in love with Yum-Yum and has every intention of marrying her, himself.

Also causing problems is Katisha, Nanki-Poo's jilted bride, who arrives in Titipu in the company of Nanki-Poo's father, the Mikado.

Review by Sandra Dudley:

by Gilbert & Sullivan adapted by Sally Allsopp Leighton Buzzard Children's Theatre Vandyke Theatre Saturday 2 May 2008

Directed by Sally Allsopp In aid of Cancer Research UK

Time was when Leighton Buzzard's G&S Society staged years of comic operas by these two 'greats' to the delight of local audiences. Now renamed and with a new agenda, they have joined the merry host of musical theatre companies in Leighton-Linslade - and surrounding villages.

So where do G&S buffs get their regular 'fixes' now? The occasional school/amateur company production, Bedfordshire Youth Opera, film and DVD, the D'Oyley Carte and . . . with LBCT - four times in their 12 year history!

Director Sally, a drama teacher at Vandyke, had made the most of the black shiny circular stage arena and crimson velvet curtains with a delicately tasteful set of crimson drapes, oriental flowers, parasols and huge fans with a floral bower containing bench.

Authentically costumed with wonderful wigs, hats and hair decorations, lbct senior students brought colour, character and charisma to each scene and a mature standard to choruses and choreography.

G&S is traditionally a challenge: comic lyrics sung and spoken at speed and with essential perfect diction or the many quickfire plots are missed. Those wonderful 'classics' "Three Little Maids from School", "I've Got a Little List", "The Flowers that Bloom in the Spring tra-la" never fail to make one smile.

Confident, accomplished soloists with mature vocal and comedy timing brought roars of laughter. James Leaver (Ko-Ko), Joe Parslow (Pish Tush), Matthew Lee (Pooh Bah) and Adam Smart (Nanki-Poo) were just outstanding! Yum-Yum (Eleanor Cloake) maintained a beautifully feminine but at times assertive and haughty presence. Katisha (Emer Downey) interweaved with sophisticated grace with soloists and chorus. Edward Percival as The Mikado was utterly superb.

So many people just 'don't do opera' and really should give G&S comic operas an airing: many are fast paced 'laugh out loud' swinging comedy romps. And with a young company production such as this, you will never look back, such is the zesty spirited enthusiasm experienced.

The cast with their younger members brought cheers from May Fayre audiences on Bank Holiday Monday, singing their hearts out from past productions - Annie and Oliver and the forthcoming September production Alice the Musical. Details of this and the senior students' July Leavers' Show (both unmissable!) are on Sally keeps the website buzzing with news. Become a lbct show and website regular! Feel the buzz! Follow the careers of young stars! Support Cancer Research UK by buying tickets for the next shows. You will go home walking on air - and singing - I promise you!

Other Audience Comments:

"Better than the Doyle Carte Opera company"

"I'd pay double to see that again"

"Visually stunning"

"The singing was professional - the sound was perfect"

"Loves the light show and the martial arts - the firefly lights where beautiful"

"So many amazing performers!"