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The first impression when entering the theatre was the magnificent side panels on the stage – beautifully designed and painted to create a wonderfully evocative setting for the production.  Then the tabs opened and the backcloth echoed the look and feel of the side panels, which was excellent.  The use of the static set was good, and it was enhanced by a good lighting plot, and lots of good props.  The miniature waterfall was utterly charming, and added so much to a very imaginative set.  The two panels used at the start of Act 2 to depict the sun and moon worked really well.

Then we got the mix of modern and traditional costumes, which merged seamlessly and neither seemed at all out of place.  Lovely wigs for the ladies.

I liked the different nuances that Pen Robinson had utilised to make this a slightly quirky production with lots of humour, which I enjoyed immensely, and Dan Cowtan had pulled out the stops again with the musical side of the production, with a few more orchestra members that certainly bulked the sound out, and gave us a very nicely rounded musical accompaniment to some very well-sung numbers, with good harmonies.  I thought the parts meshed really well, with the trios and quintets being beautifully rendered, giving a really charming sound mix that I loved.

Andrew Whelan in his first outing with HHTC, gave us a well sung Nanki Poo.  Andrew has a nicely placed voice that coped well with the music.  I liked his interaction with Yum Yum, but occasionally needed a little more angst from him to give his character more dimension.  But I think Andrew is a good addition to our musical scene, and hope to see him in many more productions.

James Penniston is always a favourite of mine – he has a wonderful stage presence, and does not let his character slip at all.  James has matured into a good performer and the part of Pish Tush suited him well.  I should also mention his voice, which again is well-placed and effortless.

Terry Casserley gave us a diverse Pooh-Bar, with his many different titles – I particularly liked our first introduction to these when he changed wigs and accents exceedingly quickly, which was fun and well done.  Terry accomplished many costume changes but still managed to retain his dignity (except when he was grovelling to the Mikado)!  

I thoroughly enjoyed Marlon Gill’s take on Ko Ko – a part he sang extremely well, and I appreciated his excellent diction throughout.  There were some very funny moments, in what I thought was a well-acted well-sung portrayal. Again, perhaps a little more angst when he realised he might actually have to execute someone, but a small point in a good overall performance.

Corinne Hart was a charming Yum Yum, she has an effortless voice, that just seemed to soar to the high notes, and I really liked her characterisation and relationship with Nanki Poo.  I thought she was lovely.

I loved the other two ‘maids’ in the trio – Pippa Taylor was Pitti Sing, the younger naive and bubbly one – with Mariam Gaballa-Gill as Peep Bo – very feisty and chav-like, which gave the trio a complete contrast, whilst all sang and acted extremely well.  

Sue Reynolds was an evil Katisha – who finally succumbed to the rather dubious charms of Ko Ko - I thought Sue sang the part beautifully, whilst maintaining her evil character, looking marvellous in her costume, with excellent make-up.

The final principal was Nick Heritage as the Mikado – beautiful make-up, which enhanced his character – very noble but also with a more human side lurking there somewhere!  Really well done.

So, I think you could say I really liked this production, visually, sensually and vocally, everything fitted well, there was humour, beautiful harmonies, good characterisations and enthusiasm which drew the audience in.

Hemel Hempstead Theatre Company

THE MIKADO”  review date: 26th April 2013

Boxmoor Playhouse

Director:  Pen Robinson   MD: Dan Cowtan


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