|Bob Jolly cuts up as the Lord High Executioner in The Mikado. Photos: Mark S. Howard.|
G&S purists, however, should have no fear - strange as that may sound, given that the Lyric cast is defiantly non-traditional, the score is oft streamlined, and Veloudos has updated almost all the jokes to the current election cycle (on the poster, Yum-Yum even sports an "Occupy Titipu!" button). Still, somehow his production feels comfortably traditional, and roughly true to the spirit of D'Oyly Carte, despite all the jabs at Romney, Republicans, and other blue-state bête noires; somehow there's a deep consonance between Veloudos' sense of humor and the Victorians' humorous nonsense (and their faith in masculine prerogatives) that makes everything hang together.
And despite the paucity of Asians onstage, Japan seems no further removed from The Mikado in the Lyric version than it does generally (so the program's apology for the operetta's supposed insensitivities seems - well, a little beside the point by now). I mean of course I bow, bow, not only to the Daughter-in-Law Elect but also to the Politically Correct - still The Mikado might as well be set in Oz, or Lilliput, rather than Titipu; its "Japan" is simply a fancified gloss on certain familiar districts along the Thames.
Or the Charles, I guess (the backdrop features a bald eagle flapping over Mt. Fuji, and we can just make out a Citgo sign down in Titipu). At any rate, the point is that Democrats and independents need not fear this production; those partisans of Sullivan's music, however, may have a more divided opinion. Alas, the score is presented in a highly reduced keyboards-woodwinds-and-percussion version, which is even further compromised for being piped in (somehow this kind of thing always works better when you can actually see the musicians, and at least hear their original acoustic). Sigh.
|Erica Spyres as Yum-Yum, with her famous little maids from school.|
Both the men's and women's choruses sounded great, too (and newcomer Teresa Winner Blume caught my eye as Pitti-Sing). Davron S. Monroe, however, made a generally appealing and sweet Nanki-Poo, but was a bit strained vocally the night I attended, while as Ko-Ko, Titipu's harmless Lord High Executioner, Bob Jolly wobbled all over the place. Now Ko-Ko's are often chosen for their comic timing rather than their musical chops - and Jolly usually has the right comic stuff up his sleeve in spades; but sometimes on this occasion he even seemed unable to hit his marks comically. Maybe he was just having a bad night, but the performance kept moving frustratingly in and out of focus.
But can The Mikado survive a few bumps in performance? Yes, it generally can, and the Lyric version does deliver many pleasures, not least among them Janie Howland's elegant set and Rafael Jaen's gorgeous costumes. G&S fans who are voting a straight Democratic ticket have until October 13th to see it.
|Leigh Barrett pines away as Katisha.|