Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Campy, Satirical "Mikado" is Hot Winter Fun

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You can't be gay if you haven't seen The Mikado at least once in your life. And if you have been properly initiated into the Victorian cult of Gilbert and Sullivan operettas, the mere mention of The Mikado has probably made you pull up your calendar on the screen and start saving money for tickets. It is coming to Pittsfield's Colonial Theatre as soon as it finishes its run in Cohoes, New York.

Yes, The Mikado is a classic G&S outing, complete with pretty "girls" and both mincing and manly men. In their day, they were clearly stereotypes, but still funny and ring true. Especially the Lord High Executioner, which, with any luck will be played by the fabulous Jim Charles who brings an extraordinary theatrical sensibility to the small upstate town of Cohoes, New York. If I didn't live here in the Berkshires, it would be on my short list. At the Cohoes Music Hall he does extraordinary productions complete with great costumes and a live orchestra, yet keeps ticket prices within reason. The whole town turns out for his extravaganzas.

The video I have embedded is about ten minutes of the show as performed in 1990-92 by the famous D'oyly Carte Opera Company. It is the same company G&S worked with a century ago. It has one of the classic patter songs - "I've got a Little List" which is about two minutes in, after the Lord High Executioner introduces himself. It is my fervent hope that this is the role producer Jim Charles (the performing half of C-R Productions) assumes in the production which debuts February 18 at the Cohoes Music Hall.

As my fellow critic Gail Burns sums it up, what could be better than The Mikado- "that wholesome family show about decapitation." Yes, Mikado tells a tale of preposterous carryings on in the mythical Japanese village of Titi-pu. A Japanese prince will do just about anything to win the hand of the national executioner's daughter, for she is his one true love. Over a century later, the themes of The Mikado still resonate with modern audiences with references used in films and television from "Chariots of Fire" to "The Chipmunks". The ultimate classic love story set in the most famous Savoy Opera continues to captivate audiences.

This is the Hill Country's own production, which gets a two week run in Cohoes, New York at their Victorian Music Hall by C-R Productions and then moved, cast, sets and orchestra to Pittsfield where Berkshire audiences can easily enjoy it. If this is half as good as their sell out production of The Producers last year which played the Colonial under similar arrangements, then we are all in for a real treat.

Before there was Saturday Night Live, there was Gilbert and Sullivan spoofing the norms and conventions of the time, and drawing other countries and cultures in caricature. Considering the size of this production, the ticket prices are very reasonable.

Performance Schedule:


February 18-28
Thursday-Saturday at 8:00pm
Saturday and Sunday at 3:00pm
Tickets: $25-$35
Box Office: 518.237.5858


Saturday March 6, 2010
Performances at 3 PM and 8 PM
Tickets $25-$45
Box Office: (413) 997-4444

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