What would you do for love? Send roses? Sing serenades? Pledge vows? Die decapitated? Or be buried alive?
The Hypocrites present THE MIKADO as part of its Gilbert & Sullivan rep. The Mikado (Emperor of Japan) has proclaimed that flirting is a crime punishable by death. A traveling musician and a young lady perpetrate the offense anyway. To make the transgression even more lethal, they’re already engaged to others. He has a bride-elect at home. She is getting married that afternoon to the Lord High Executioner. When the LHE uncovers the indiscretion, he sentences the man to thirty days marriage followed by decapitation. Initially, the couple agrees to the wedding beheading. The small print reveals the wife of a headless husband is buried alive with him. She objects to the until-death-do-us-part exclusion. What’s a gal to do? THE MIKADO is Yum-Yum and doubles the pleasure in this contemporary tribute to Gilbert & Sullivan.
In 2010, Sean Graney and Kevin O’Donnell adapted “The Pirates of Penzance.” Graney & O’Donnell took a traditional operetta and gave it a modern day makeover. Their genius creation was a blockbuster success for two years at the Chopin and a Boston run last summer at the American Repertory Theatre. This year, “Pirates” is remounted and paired with another Gilbert & Sullivan operetta, THE MIKADO. This world premiere adaptation also got the Graney & O’Donnell treatment. The similarities between the shows are apparent. It’s almost like a Gilbert & Sullivan plot twist. THE MIKADO is “Pirates” long lost twin. The reunion is a joyful one!
THE MIKADO is staged in promenade. The play moves throughout the space and the audience does too. The cast of ten are multi-talented. They play instruments. They sing songs. They zing jokes. And they do this in constant motion. The limber cast stroll through balloons and jump onto platforms. It’s a serenading three ring circus. To add more vaudevillian spunk, the leads even cross dress. Each playing a female and a male character, Emily Casey (The Mikado/Yum-Yum) and Shawn Pfautch (Nanki-Poo/Katisha) are outstanding. Casey and Pfautch are a couple sweethearts. Their courtship is beautifully and amusingly sung. Pfautch is over-the-top fantastic as the attractive-challenged Katisha. My favorite line of the whole play is Pfautch as Nanki-Poo casually mentioning, ‘she was right behind me’ about Katisha. Hilarious! The whole show is playfully devised. And Costume Designer Alison Siple adds to the dynamic spectacle. Siple dresses the cast up in vibrant whimsy. It’s a color explosion of carnival meets fairytale.
THE MIKADO is the next best thing after the “The Pirates of Penzance.” I’m hoping this merry rep becomes a holiday tradition.
Planning to see “Pirates” next, Jen describes it with ‘joyful, whimsical, musical.’
Running Time: Ninety minutes with no intermission
At Chopin Theatre, 1543 W. Division
Music by Arthur Sullivan
Libretto by W.S. Gilbert
New Adaption by Sean Graney and Kevin O’Donnell
Directed by Sean Graney
December 15th, 20th, 21st, 22nd, 28th, 29th, 30th at 7:30pm
December 16th, 21st, 23rd, 30th at 3pm
January 4th, 5th, 7th, 10th, 11th, 12th, 17th, 18th, 19th at 7:30pm
January 6th, 13th, 19th at 3pm
Buy Tickets at www.the-hypocrites.com
Production photo courtesy of Matthew Gregory Hollis