ACT Theatre Reviews 2021-2022

THE BLACK & WHITE MIKADO Director Paul Allcock Musical Director Lynn Lee Choreography and dancers fromThe Anita Tymshyn School of Dance North Manchester A.O. & D.S. It has been an eight year journey to opening night. This time was spent fund raising, presenting entertainments, keeping the members, and the name of the society, before an audience. Their first production was The Mikado in 1920, and what better way than to start their new era than with a production of The Mikado, not the Japanese, fan-twirling, much loved version, but one with a new concept. Taking the 1920s as a starting point all the action was presented in a seaside hotel foyer. There was a projection screen which was the backcloth. This was used to capacity when the overture was played. There was a sideshow of advertisers, and a potted history of the founding of the society. Once the operetta began, besides a visual of the hotel foyer which gave depth to the stage, there were plot captions as presented in silent moves. These unfortunately were blocked now and again by the company but this did not matter too much. Stage left and right were flats painted in art-deco style. A reception desk and a conversation seat completed the stage dressings. All in black and white! The lighting plot added to the drama, and the concealed microphones gave warmth to the vocal presentation. Props were well used although not always cleared. Costumes, wigs and make-up were of the highest standard. The top-hatted, monocle toffs, and the St Trinian’s school girls all but completed the picture. It was a shame Nanki-Poo didn’t have a change of costume for his wedding. However, this was one of the best character costume plots I have seen for some time. Musically the two keyboard players, under the direction of the M.D., allowed Sullivan’s melodies to flow. All the singing was delivered with gusto; the company’s commitment was in every note. Choreography brings another dimension to any theatrical setting. In this presentation, the dancers, and the routines, were well executed. It wasn’t, ‘dance break, bring on the dancers’, the dancers were part of the ensemble. All the elements were in place: the director had to bring everything together. Stripping away most of the satire about Victorian society and government did not weaken Gilbert’s libretto. A “tip of the Hat” to Jonathan Millar’s ENO ‘Mikado’, and the Marx Brothers, clinched the “Jazz Age” concept. The casting was so well balanced; from the charming Pitti-Sing (Rebecca Tonge), and the other maid from school ,Stephanie Eckard, who gave an amusing cameo performance as Peep-Bo. Including the lord-high-something-or-other, Pish-Tush (Mike Nash) they were all individual characters. Pooh-Bah was believably portrayed by Dave Seager. It was fun to see projected, Pooh-Bah in all his positions of state as he named them.