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The Mikado is one of the G&S favourites, and always commands good audience figures, which was the case for PBGS, and is always good to see.

I liked the humour that was injected into the production, not just the original G&S fun, but also some new departures, not least being a very Welsh Ko-Ko, from Cardiff I believe was noted in his introduction from the cast.

The set was nicely thought out, with the rostra being nicely used by the cast, it was a little spare in decoration, but the costumes were very pretty for the ladies, and quite striking for the men – so the lack of colour was taken up by the cast.

Lighting was suitable for the production, and I liked the introduction of a red light for Katisha’s appearance, it just lifted the proceedings and added some menace.

Sound was excellent throughout, but in the opening particularly it felt as if the men’s ensemble were holding back, I needed more volume to really get us into the show.

The overture seemed to be very long, and was a little on one level, it needed some contrasts of pace and volume to make it more interesting.

I liked Brian Miles as Nanki-Poo – this part suited his voice, and I liked the nuances within the music, and also the cheeky asides to the audience from time to time.  A good performance, and the wig looked very real – and stayed in place well despite lots of action!

David Crew was a very imposing Pooh-Bar.  His vocal capability is always outstanding, and the variety of accents for his many state positions were very good, I loved his commitment to the part, it brought Pooh-Bar to life, whilst showing the type of man he wanted to be!  is vocal achievements are alwaysHis 

I thought the voices of Nanki-Poo, Pooh-Bar and Pish-Tush blended very well in their trio, a lovely sound.  However I felt that Pish-Tush, played by Tim Hobman suffered a little in his solo as the choreography detracted from his vocal ability and did not seem to fit his character – otherwise I liked what he did with it, and thought the feather duster was a good departure, giving him a rather fussy side to his portrayal.

The Welsh Ko-Ko worked really well, and the comedy given to the part by Peter Sayers was almost throw-away in some places, but was extremely funny – his ‘Little List’ was great.  I found the overall portrayal nicely accomplished.

Sue Wookey gave us her usual fine portrayal of the very strong Katisha – and I liked the change in her during Willow, Tit-willow – always a funny moment – and the use of a puppet bird, smaller than, but reminiscent of Orville, was cute and amusing.

Our three little maids – Paula Fraser as Yum-Yum, Catherine Harvey as Peep-Bow and Emma Crew as Pitti-Sing formed a nicely contrasting trio, who sounded good together and were diverse in their portrayals. All achieving well vocally both as a trio and separately.

Paula always gives us a well-rounded characterisation, and also injects some nice comedic touches within her character.  She achieved a good relationship with Nanki-Poo and I enjoyed her performance.

Catherine Harvey gave us a more experienced little maid, with her wry observations, which contrasted really well with the charming Emma Crew, in her first principal part with PBGS, and one which she accomplished well.  A lovely lively face added so much to her portrayal.

In the Act 1 finale I felt that the ensemble eventually reached their potential with depth and volume at the end – but missed that in other parts.  I was a little doubtful about the tap dancing as part of the finale, it didn’t sit too well with the feel of the piece for me.

The ladies ensemble looked lovely, wigs and costumes were good, and they all seemed to have mastered their use of fans whilst singing the sometimes intricate music.

I found ‘Here’s a how-de-do’ very well done, and extremely funny – well done.

I thought the configuration of the band was very suitable for the Japanese feel, but needed a bit more oomph and volume from them at times, it just needed to be stronger and more of a lead for the cast.  

The choreography was a little tentatively used – it would have been better if it had been a little more marked.

So all in all a fun and interesting show with some good nuances and dimensions from the principals.  I just felt a bit of energy was missing to lift it to the next level, however I, and the audience, enjoyed the evening very much.

Putteridge Bury Gilbert & Sullivan Society

THE MIKADO” review date: 11th April 2014

Queen Mother Theatre, Hitchin

Director:  Alison Gibbs MD: Sue Trost


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