On Thursday night I was invited to a private viewing of Skylark Opera and Mu Performing Arts collaborative operetta, “The Mikado”. What a treat it was to watch a final dress rehearsal. As the show opens, we learn that Franki-Poo is the son of the Mikado of Japan and is betrothed to Katy Shaw. Due to his distaste for her, he flees and disguises himself as a second trombone player. Along his travels he meets Tum-Tum and falls in love with her only to find that she is set to marry her guardian, Co-Co. Since this serves as the backdrop for the story, we watch as it all unfolds. The Gilbert and Sullivan show has many rousing songs, silly dance numbers and fun characters.
As the interlude started to play, I was struck by the beautiful sounds, which made me close my eyes and allowed myself to be transported into the work, invoke a few tears as well. The twenty piece orchestra conducted by Steve Stucki was the best I have heard in awhile. I could have listened to them play for two plus hours, however, the show must go on.
Randy Reyes who played Co-Co’s entrance was hilarious and his comical personality stayed the course throughout the entire show. His acting choices are his strong suit and he executes them well. During his song “I’ve Got a Little List” he changed lyrics to fit in with current day situations. Topics such as tweeting, texting, the marriage amendment and Michele Bachmann came up. Ashley Cutright who played the evil villain, Katy Shaw, had spectacular voice control. Coming from someone who is particular about sopranos, this girl has chops.
Many times set pieces are eye candy, however, in this show, the costumes stuck out in particular. At the opening of the play, the men’s chorus wore all white juxtaposed to the ladies chorus who wore long purple skirts, white blouses and black boots with heels. Later in the play the men changed into flat topped hats and classy suits and ties. During the song “Comes a Train of Little Ladies” the women’s chorus added maroon vests to their attire as well as walked around with white parasols. Their choreographed song and dance was lovely to watch. In the second act the women wore Easter color pastel dresses, white boots with heels and most of them had their hair in a bun. The higher ranking men wore more high end suits and some even had gloves. The three sisters sported sailor dresses and used field hockey sticks as props for their song “Three Little Maids from School Are We”. All the attention to detail that should be made for costumes, was there which was welcomed.
“The Mikado” is doing a short four show run at Concordia College in St. Paul. All tickets are sold out but don’t fret, Skylark Opera is also doing “The Fantasticks” at the same time and there are tickets left for that show. For more information on Mu Performing Arts: http://www.muperformingarts.org/ and Skylark Opera: http://www.skylarkopera.org/