THEATRE; They should Ko-Ko
Hot Mikado Queen's Theatre, London
In tune with today's liberal multiculturalism, Bell's production has a few white actors, including a charming Paul Manuel as Nanki-Poo. (His father, the Mikado, coolly explains, "there's not much family resemblance".) On the female side as well, the casting alone does away with the coy, prissy sexlessness of G & S and their assumption that women over 40 are hideous viragos. Paulette Ivory, a delectable teddy-clad Yum-Yum, anticipates her marriage by wriggling voluptuously through "The Sun and I". Sharon Benson's Katisha has clearly stayed unmarried because she is too much woman for the men of Titipu. Mae West couldn't improve on the way she tells us about her lovely left shoulder blade. The jitterbugging Little Maids shake everything shakeable and the arrangements are saucy and sensual - "Braid the raven hair", as close as G & S ever get to foreplay, gets a lot closer as a rhumba.
A less staid Mikado actually works better on a psychological level, if G & S have such a thing. When Katisha consents to marry Ko-Ko after he woos her with "Tit-Willow", we don't have to believe that she has been won by the poignant story. We can see that she realises this sunny little guy will always make her laugh. Ross Lehman plays Ko-Ko as a throwback to Ed Wynn or Eddie Cantor, an innocent in round glasses and a hat with a pulled-down brim. His Lord High Executioner is generally found in a 45-degree angle, as he tries to get someone to pay attention to him, or strikes a propitiously comic pose.
In a vocally strong cast, Benson's rich, Aretha Franklyn-style delivery is matched by the Pitti-Sing of Alison Jiear, a soul-sister under the skin. One's rapture is modified just a bit by the lack of sweetness, a slightly amateurish quality to some of the acting, and the length of a few of the dance sequences (the performers have the vitality of the Nicholas Brothers, but the choreography, though accurate, lacks invention).
Hot Mikado offers something for both Gilbert & Sullivan fanatics and those who think their whole output isn't worth eight bars of Guys and Dolls. My guest, who practically heads the G & S Purity League, agreed afterwards that any Mikado was seriously lacking without a Katisha who could get down and boogie on "Derry, Derry, Derry".
n Box-office: 0171-494 5040
Listen to his collaboration with Naughty Boymusic
Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Replica Back to the Future Hoverboard released
- 2 Katie Hopkins attacked me on Twitter — so I reported her to the police for inciting racial hatred
- 3 Brixton squat flats now costing up to £3k per month show how out of control rent is in London
- 4 Gamers confess the worst things they've done in The Sims
- 5 Dylan Moran on quitting smoking, being about as sexy as the Pope and why comedy panel programmes are 'c*ck shows'
Sacha Baron Cohen is definitely not involved in Freddie Mercury biopic, says Brian May
Poldark review: Demelza’s insouciance is almost as impressive as Ross’ pecs
Fifty Shades of Grey movie shows first sex scene 'after 40 minutes'
James May hints he will not continue on Top Gear without Jeremy Clarkson
Menstruation-themed photo series artist 'censored by Instagram' says images are to demystify taboos around periods
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
Street preacher quoting from the Bible fined for calling homosexuality an 'abomination'
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
Woman filmed launching racist tirade against men on the Tube for speaking in 'own lingo'
The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
David Cameron calls Labour 'hopeless, sneering socialists' while announcing 7-day NHS plans