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The Mikado

“Looks fresher than it feels”

Jonathan Miller’s English National Opera Mikado – which transfers the operetta’s action from Japan to a British grand hotel in the 1930s – has been revived more than 15 times since its first outing in 1986, and it still looks fresh, even if it doesn’t always feel it.

Stefanos Lazaridis’ wood-panelled palm-court set – dazzling in cream with a fountain and grand piano to match – is complemented by Sue Blane’s natty costumes (a world away from her Rocky Horror Picture Show creations). The dance routines involve high-kicking chambermaids and surreal headless men in penguin suits.

In a bold (and presumably financially canny) move, the central couple are cast from ENO’s young talent scheme, Harewood Artists. Both singers deserve the spotlight: Elgan Llŷr Thomas is light and lyrical as the fresh-faced, kiss-curled Nanki-Poo and Soraya Mafi is effortlessly optimistic as Yum-Yum, allowing the voice to soar in The Sun, Whose Rays.

Yvonne Howard is suitably poker-faced as the formidable Katisha (by her own admission, “an acquired taste”), and John Tomlinson celebrates his 50th role at ENO as the over-sized Mikado.

Richard Suart, the veteran Lord High Executioner, remains dependably colourful, returning with his ample toolkit of comic techniques, side-curls flailing and whole-body squirming. His “little list” of potential subjects for execution (those who’ll “not be missed”) now include the Attorney General, Geoffrey Cox (the “rotund legalist”) and a certain “blond-haired populist”.

But Pooh-Bah (played by Andrew Shore) needs a little more cut-through and the dialogue could often do with spiriting along. Under Chris Hopkins, the music is solid but lacks sparkle.

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Production Details
Production nameThe Mikado
StartsOctober 28, 2019
EndsNovember 30, 3019
Running time2hrs 45mins
ComposerArthur Sullivan
DirectorJonathan Miller
ConductorChris Hopkins
Set designerStefanos Lazaridis
Costume designerSue Blane
Lighting designerDavy Cunningham
CastElgan Llŷr Thomas, John Tomlinson, Richard Suart, Soraya Mafi, Yvonne Howard
ProducerEnglish National
VerdictWelcome revival of Jonathan Miller's staging of the Gilbert and Sullivan classic that looks fresher than it feels
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