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Newbury Operatic Society - The Mikado

28th to 30th October 2010.

Review from the Newbury Weekly News.

Here's a great how-de-do!

Newbury Operatic Society: The Mikado, at Park House School, Newbury from Thursday, October 28 to Saturday, October 30

It is orthodox doctrine that women have a greater capacity than men for expression; a truism well illustrated in the opening scenes of Newbury Operatic's Mikado.

The chorus of courtiers stalked on stage not really radiating much in the way of anything. Chris Austin (Nanki-Poo) did well to stand apart from this, announcing his minstrel status with a Lidl bag full of threads and patches; a nice touch, but only the onward sweep of the ladies, led by Clair Hopkins, Fiona Watts and the lovely Lucy Huckle as Yum-Yum, made the sun break through these sombre beginnings.

Gestures, music, animation, dresses and wigs all beautifully put together by Kate Mayo and Anne Bennett, brought a quickfire team spirit to three little maids from school in twirling pink parasols.

Then came more delight in the shape of Geoff Dallimore, playing a wonderfully animated Lord High Executioner. Having dispensed with the comic axe, he kept his audience enraptured with his wholly original body language. His nickname could have been Mr Mobility, combining wedge-shaped headgear, a cross between a crash helmet and a mortar board, and a crouching stride, to give him the air of a Singing Spiderman walking up the wall. And very fine singing too.

More good things to come in the entrance of the Mikado himself. No stiff dignity here, tonight Chris Moore hit the stage with a costume which included super-elevated hatwear, underneath which a ballet of facial expression drew inspiration from the old stagers of the music hall. A grand baritone voice brought out his regal status and he bounced beautifully off the sycophancy of the two Tonys, Tony Brown, (Lord High Everything Else), and a stately Tony Randall (Pish-Tush). The best comedy in Berkshire.

One final word for Katisha, balanced between comic and tragic by the talented Sam Murray. Her by-play with fan and grimace during the Tit Willow aria was high theatre, and we were glad when in true Gilbertian style she got convincingly hitched with the raffish but upwardly mobile Ko-Ko.

Jeanette Maskell's direction shone through as did the lighting design by Jamie Lillycrop; a remarkable job. Likewise the orchestra under their musical director Michael Evans.

It always amazes me how after so little time to prepare, the orchestra and stage come together at all. They were fantastic tonight. A spirited burst of music hall-inspired fun.