Concept Players present The Mikado

By W.S Gilbert & A. Sullivan

 

NODA Review by Frank Wooles

True to the words and music of Gilbert and Sullivan, Concept transported us back to the 1970s and re-set the most popular of the Savoy Opera’s in the Mikado Emporium. Think ‘Are You Being Served’, Ko-Ko is the department floor walker and the three little maids shop assistants. Got the idea? It provides a great framework for a wealth of business and fun and the opportunities were not lost in this innovative and clever production by Paul Buckle – but traditionalists beware.

With a pair of sparkling eyes and a super voice, Nanki-Poo (James Rockey) wooed the fair shop assistant Yum-Yum, delightfully played and sung by Helen Stubbs. A cheeky charismatic Ko-Ko by Paul Buckle, reluctant in his wooing of a harridan of a Katisha, played by Janet Holloway – fearsome and beautifully sung. Neil Davies, in fine form as a Lord High Captain Peacock type Pooh-Ba, accompanied by Nigel Holloway, as assistant Pish-Tush, to answer to The Big Boss, an impressive geriatric Mikado, played by Kevin Morgan. Cat Dafydd and Denise Freer fluttered delightfully as Pitti-Sing and Peep-Bo, to complete an enviably talented cast and company, backed by a small zesty band and the baton of Ben Davies. Meticulous attention to the set (very authentic Grace Bros store) and costume detail enhanced this original and highly amusing adaptation – which was very ‘Concept’.

Originally published Spring 2011

 

Penarth Times

This review appeared in the Penarth Times on Thursday 24th February 2011

 

"The Mikado – but not a waving fan in sight"

A couple of times a year, locals to Penarth and district are offered the treat of the Concept Players performing at the Paget Rooms. Last October we enjoyed Company, and last week we had the most enjoyable Mikado I have ever seen – and being an avid Mikado fan I’ve seen a few! Set on the shop-floor of “Mikado's” a department store which looked suspiciously like that of TV’s beloved “Are you Being Served?”- in the same time period – the 70s

The inspired ideas of Director Paul Buckle (who also took the lead of Ko-Ko with hilarious results) worked surprisingly well, thanks to the help given by House of Fraser to dress the set with mannequins, bolts of fabric and other props. In fact the set, overall, was superb. The lifts at the back were used to bring cast on and off. The counters, shelving, cosmetic bar, changing rooms and centre display all gave plenty of scope for the cast to use for “business”, the term use when actors move around the stage in a supposedly natural manner, using the set and props while setting the scene for principals or, in this case, singing.

I particularly liked the shoplifters, very understated but fun. Also eye-catching was the customer (Lorna Welch) on a mission to Ban the Fur Trade, typical of 1970s idealism whose theme nicely ran throughout the performance. We had shopoholic wives and bored husbands played by Fiona and Roger Thomas/ Claire Couldridge and Ruairidh MacLeod-Lyon. Such customer business meant that cast on stage were continually moving, acting, singing without the need for formal choreography or dancing.

The store’s cleaner alias wandering minstrel Nanki-Poo was played beautifully by James Rockey. This was his debut with Concept and hopefully he will be a regular so that we will see him and enjoy his lovely voice again.

The experience of Nigel Holloway (Pish-Tush) shone through, carrying the scenes onward with his strong voice and comic timing. Yum-Yum and Pitti –Sing and Peep-Bo (Helen Stubbs, Cat Dafydd and Denise Freer) brought life, humour and great enjoyment with their portrayals of shop-girls who had their sights set on love, men and other great things. I particularly liked Helen’s version of “The Sun whose Rays are all Ablaze”, she brought out the comic vanity of the song, which is always in the words but not always in the delivery.

Then, when all looks happy and matters resolved trouble arrived via the lift, Janet Holloway in the form of Katisha, Daughter in Law elect of the Mikado, looking for her lost love, the young Nanki Poo. Mood changes as she dramatically reveals – or tries to – the true identity of the lowly store cleaner. Each time she tries to say that he was the son of the Mikado, sale bargains were offered by the separate shop counters, causing mayhem and chaos as the cast chased bargains and fought over clothes. Eventually a defeated Katisha found her hat, which was being tried on by another customer and retired from the stage amid applause and laughter from the delighted audience – wonderful theatre.

Concept Players lived up to their name last week. Each production is truly a unique concept - they pride themselves on innovative performances and this one worked so well. A talented group of people with beautiful voices, exquisite comic timing, all put together with a fresh and twinkling eye. This sort of production keeps audiences coming back for more. If you missed it then you can still catch it as it is being performed in Abergavenny next week, if you haven’t yet discovered the company then look out for their next production and have yourself a great night out.

 

 

 

"...the most enjoyable Mikado I have ever seen – and being an avid Mikado fan I’ve seen a few! "

 

Penarth Times

 

Paul (Director) as Ko-Ko

"innovative and clever production by Paul Buckle"

NODA