Book and Lyrics by David H. Bell
Musical Adaptation by Rob Bowman
Based on “The Mikado” by W. S. Gilbert and A. Sullivan
Directed and Choreographed by Earl Weaver
Musical Direction by Jason Bailey
Starring Chase Cashion, Joshua Kimball, Maddie Walker, and Haley Renee Scott
Somewhere, an anima fanboy is having a sexual breakdown. While Gilbert and Sullivan laid the groundwork for modern musical theater, today they sound a bit precious and out of touch. This production repairs that rift in the space-time-musical theater continuum; tonight we land in the anime world of Japanese sexual weirdness. Girls in flouncy dresses packed with petticoats and guys that look like they’ve done time in a metal band make this show about lopping off heads much more enjoyable, Set the magical and slightly risqué city of Titipu, the lord high executioner Ko-Ko (Alaric Frinzi) enforces the single law in Titipu: No flirting. Naturally, a poor boy names Nanki-Poo (Kimball) arrives, looking for his long-lost love Yum-Yum (Walker). She’s engaged to Ko-ko, and then there’s a big pile of plot complications that even the Wiki can’t make clear. Finally, Mr. Mikado (Cashion) he sings a few solos, and everything sorts out. To paraphrase another genre: “Forget about it, Jake. It’s Musical Theater Land.)
Deep underneath this flashy performance we still have the innocently contrived original plot, complete with all its arbitrary rules, coning scheming, and arbitrary McGuffins dropping int out of the fly loft. But the production overwhelms these structural issues. Cashion’s Mikado has a rolling voice and a wink in his eye; he seems at odds with his own laws. You cheer Nanki-Poo and Yum-Yum; if not for their semi requited love, then for her flash outfit and his innocent guy demeanor. The MC onstage is Ko-ko; his 50’s doowop sensibility makes his faintly ridiculous logic flow as smooth as a pop tune. The set reeks of “look”: it’s bright and colorful and as cartoonish as the original story with all the song transposed into a more “21st century feeling.” Still, Ko-Ko’s “Tit Willow” is still an awkward tune in the video game arcade as was on the Victorian stage. This show is packed with high energy fun, and if you’re one of those musical theater stick-in-the muds who demands a linear logical plot, you may not miss it until it’s too late and your half way home. This is an evening of high spirted and colorful fun.