THE cast of Hot Mikado are busy with their final rehearsals in preparation for this Saturday’s opening night of Portrush Music Society’s latest show at the Riverside Theatre.
The costumes have arrived and the set has been moved on to the stage. The Coleraine stage is being transformed into the fictional city of Titipu and the talented actors are practically turning Japanese as they get ready to perform their parts.
Kerry Dunn is following her amazing success with last year’s show Titanic the Musical, by directing Hot Mikado for the Portrush Music Society, showing at the Riverside Theatre from Saturday, April 27 to May 4.
It is a musical comedy designed to poke fun at the way in which incompetent males attempt to manipulate society for their own ends.
For example, the Mikado, as Emperor of Japan (played by Harry Coates) has decreed that flirting is punishable by death, so the “Gentlemen of Japan” elect their own cronies into positions of power so that they can continue in their old ways. Inevitably, their situation descends into farce.
They ultimately have to risk their own necks in their efforts to try to fix some very complicated love triangles.
The plot is much the same as Gilbert and Sullivan’s original The Mikado but the costumes, music and dialogue have all been updated.
Done in Gangnam style, it has the girls dressed as if they’ve stepped out of a Japanese Manga comic. The up-tempo musical score demonstrates a range of styles including Jazz, Blues, Gospel, Pop and Rock.
The dancing too has been very lively choreographed by Dityana McKinty. You could say that the traditional paper screens of the Japanese tea room have been transformed with bright neon lights and Crimplene fabrics, and their hushed interiors filled with the beat of Western records.
Once again, the award-winning Richard Campbell is the show’s Musical Director.
The ever present humour is both broad and subtle. It includes elements of slapstick comedy as well as clever dialogue. Even the names of the characters are ridiculous: Yum-Yum, Peep-Bo, Nanki-Poo and Pish-Tush. The characters and their behaviour mimic their ludicrous titles.
The show relies on a cast of around thirty local amateurs as well as a dedicated backstage team led by Sean Magee.
The talents of a few of the performers onstage are now becoming quite well-known locally and further afield. Helen Wilkinson plays Katisha the femme fatale of the piece; both her comic acting and her singing voice are outstanding.
The love interest is provided by Peter Olphert and Louise McClarty as Nanki-Poo and Yum-Yum, whilst Louise’s real-life husband plays the lead funny man Ko-Ko in a hilarious performance as “Lord High Executioner”.
Another well-known local figure is Rory Sheehan whose irrepressible presence glows like limelight on any stage where he performs. Harry Stinson delivers a stellar performance as Pooh-Ba, “the coolest cat in Japan”, and Laura Fisher gives a first class singing performance as Pitti-Sing.
This year the society’s sponsored charity is Coleraine and District Samaritans and the charity performance is on Monday, April 29.
We are all suckers for a complicated love story. This is one where virtue eventually triumphs after a few nasty turns. It is a real musical extravaganza that will appeal to a wide range of tastes. It is a show not to be missed.
Tickets and further information available from the Riverside Theatre box office, telephone 028 70 123 123 or online at www.riversidetheatre.org.uk.