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The Mikado review at London Coliseum – ‘still delivers the goods’

Mary Bevan and Anthony Gregory in ENO's revival of The Mikado at the London Coliseum, Photo: Tristram Kenton

Next year, Jonathan Miller’s production of the most popular Gilbert & Sullivan opera celebrates its 30th anniversary, while during the current run it will reach its 200th performance. It’s a remarkable achievement for a staging that has kept audiences happy year-in, year-out, and that shows no sign of faltering.

At many of its performances – 156, in fact – long-term company member Richard Angas sang the title role. Sadly, he’s no longer with us and this series of performances is dedicated to his memory. Fortunately, veteran bass Robert Lloyd is around to take over, which he does with distinction, relishing Gilbert’s ghoulish text and singing Sullivan’s famous song  My Object All Sublime with a vocal quality matched throughout by the strong cast.

Richard Suart returns with his classic Ko-Ko, which he remodels at every revival. As always, his ‘little list’ of those who would be better underground includes some topical names: this time, all the major party leaders are there, as is Sepp Blatter. He gives a brilliant comic performance.

So does the entire ensemble. Mary Bevan sings a vocally immaculate, dramatically knowing Yum-Yum that would be impossible to better. Anthony Gregory is the dapper Nanki-Poo, entering into the silly-ass characterisation with aplomb and some charm. Yvonne Howard’s Katisha is sung with dignity and pathos as well as offering full comic value.

The cut-class accents gild the satirical lily of Gilbert’s razor-sharp lines unnecessarily, and though young conductor Fergus Macleod – making his debut as the company’s Charles Mackerras Fellow – keeps the score nicely on the move, the overture seems to be cut more and more at every revival.

These are minor cavils. It’s still a great show. Miller comes on at the end and gets a well-deserved ovation. As a piece of classy operatic entertainment, it’s irresistible.

Verdict
Back for its 14th revival with an excellent cast of singing comedians, Jonathan Miller’s production still delivers the goods

Production

Production
The Mikado
Venue
London Coliseum
City
London
Starts
November 21, 2015
Ends
February 6, 2016
Press night
November 21, 2015
Librettist
WS Gilbert
Composer
Arthur Sullivan
Director
Jonathan Miller, Elaine Tyler-Hall (revival)
Conductor
Fergus Macleod
Design
Stefanos Lazaridis (set), Sue Blane (costume), Davy Cunningham, Marc Rosette (lighting)
Technical
Sophie Joyce (casting), Tom Lee, Rodger Hulley (production), Nicole Richardson (company manager), Elizabeth Yardeni (producer), Sarah Hamza (costume supervisor), Kevin Sleep (lighting supervisor), Vanessa Davis (wigs, hair & make-up), Geoff Summerton (technical director)
Stage manager
Sarah Walley
Cast includes
Robert Lloyd, Anthony Gregory, Richard Suart, Graeme Danby, George Humphreys, Mary Bevan, Rachael Lloyd, Fiona Canfield, Yvonne Howard
Producer
English National Opera/Houston Grand Opera/Los Angeles Music Center
Running time
2hrs 30mins