Review: The Mikado (The Hypocrites)

| November 23, 2013
Shawn Pfautsch and Emily Casey in "The Mikado" by Gilbert and Sullivan, directed by Sean Graney. (photo credit: Matthew Gregory Hollis)        
      
The Mikado

Written by W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan  
Adapted and Directed by Sean Graney 
at Steppenwolf Garage, 1624 N. Halsted (map)
thru Dec 29  |  tickets: $36   |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets 
    
        
                   Read review
     


  
  

A cunningly raucous Gilbert & Sullivan holiday romp

     

Kate Carson-Groner, Erik Schroeder, Jim DeSelm, Robert McLean and Zeke Sulkes in The Hypocrites' "The Mikado" by Gilbert and Sullivan, directed by Sean Graney. (photo credit: Matthew Gregory Hollis)

    
The Hypocrites presents
    
The Mikado

Review by Lawrence Bommer

The moment you enter the Steppenwolf Garage, you’ve plunged into Michael Smallwood’s rambunctious big top, with the clown-like cast cavorting like manic tricksters on the loose. True to the satirically subversive soul of the Savoy operas by Gilbert and Sullivan, Sean Graney’s circus-set adaptation, condensed without consequences to 80 minutes, is a two-ring, audience-interactive romp. Exuberant as the Jim DeSelm and Emily Casey in The Hypocrites' "The Mikado" by Gilbert and Sullivan, directed by Sean Graney. (photo credit: Matthew Gregory Hollis)beloved 1884 operetta, this “Mikado” employs some cunning double-casting in a rampaging “promenade” production (where audience members can follow the action or sit on the sidelines).

Notwithstanding some witty anachronisms, the topsy-turvy plot remains intact, with no toxic campiness to spoil the fun: Disguised as a mandolinist, Nanki-Poo, the runaway son of the Mikado, wins the hand of the demure ingénue Yum Yum, thwarting her unhappy engagement to Ko-Ko, the Lord High Executioner and former tailor and associate with Pooh-Bah, the indescribably snobbish Lord High Everything Else. Nanki-Poo is fleeing his own entanglement—with plug-ugly Katisha, a court lady turned stalker (who vaguely resembles the equally repellent Sarah Palin). Everything goes wonderfully awry when the Emperor of Japan himself appears, intent on tracking down his errant heir, with Katisha eager to reclaim her prey.

Popping like the balloons that strew the stage, Gilbert’s merry plot graciously unfolds Sullivan’s ever-infectious melodies. The supple ensemble doubles as musicians as well as carnie performers on the Midway. Interestingly Emily Casey plays both The Mikado and salacious Yum-Yum, while Shawn Pfautsch brings an ardent tenor to Nanki-Poo (complete with deliberately phony British accent) and offers a surprisingly tender take on Katisha, warmly warbling her second-act aria “Hearts do not break.”

Dana Omar, Emily Casey and Christine Stulik in The Hypocrites' "The Mikado" by Gilbert and Sullivan, directed by Sean Graney. (photo credit: Matthew Gregory Hollis) Shawn Pfautsch, Matt Kahler and Emily Casey in The Hypocrites' "The Mikado" by Gilbert and Sullivan, directed by Sean Graney. (photo credit: Matthew Gregory Hollis)
Kate Carson-Groner, Matt Kahler, Robert McLean, Zeke Sulkes, Dana Omar, Emily Casey and Christine Stulik in The Hypocrites' "The Mikado" by Gilbert and Sullivan, directed by Sean Graney. (photo credit: Matthew Gregory Hollis) Robert McLean, Matt Kahler and Zeke Sulkes in The Hypocrites' "The Mikado" by Gilbert and Sullivan, directed by Sean Graney. (photo credit: Matthew Gregory Hollis)

The circus backdrop nicely enlivens the pell-mell proceedings, with the supposedly restless audience moving about like gawkers under the imaginary canvas. It’s not your usual holiday show, but this archly modern “Mikado” fits the season like dangling mistletoe and very stuffed stockings.

  
Rating: ★★★
  
   

The Mikado continues through December 29th at Steppenwolf Garage, 1624 N. Halsted (map), with performances Thursdays-Saturdays at 8pm, Sundays 4pm.  Tickets are $36, and are available by phone (312-335-1650) or online through Steppenwolf.org (check for half-price tickets at Goldstar.com). More information at The-Hypocrites.com(Running time: 80 minutes, no intermission)

Dana Omar, Robert McLean, Emily Casey, Jim DeSelm, Erik Schroeder, Kate Carson-Groner, Matt Kahler, Zeke Sulkes and Christine Stulik in The Hypocrites' "The Mikado" by Gilbert and Sullivan, directed by Sean Graney. (photo credit: Matthew Gregory Hollis)

Photos by Matthew Gregory Hollis 


     

artists

cast

Robert McLean (Ko-Ko), Matt Kahler (Pooh Bah), Christine Stulik (Pitti-Sing), Zeke Sulkes (Pish-Tush), Shawn Pfautsch (Nanki-Poo, Katisha), Emily Casey (The Mikado, Yum-Yum), Dana Omar (Peep-Bo), Erik Schroeder, Jim DeSelm, Kate Carson-Groner, Lauren Vogel (ensemble)

behind the scenes

Sean Graney (director), Michael Smallwood (set design), Maria DeFabo (props design), Heather Gilbert (lighting design), Katie Spelman (choreography), Alison Siple (costume design), Andra Velis Simon (music director), Matthew Gregory Hollis (photos)

Emily Casey and Shawn Pfautsch in The Hypocrites' "The Mikado" by Gilbert and Sullivan, directed by Sean Graney. (photo credit: Matthew Gregory Hollis) Christine Stulik, Jim DeSelm, Shawn Pfautsch and Dana Omar in The Hypocrites' "The Mikado" by Gilbert and Sullivan, directed by Sean Graney. (photo credit: Matthew Gregory Hollis)Emily Casey stars as Yum-Yum in The Hypocrites' "The Mikado" by Gilbert and Sullivan, directed by Sean Graney. (photo credit: Matthew Gregory Hollis) Zeke Sulkes and Shawn Pfautsch in The Hypocrites' "The Mikado" by Gilbert and Sullivan, directed by Sean Graney. (photo credit: Matthew Gregory Hollis)

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Category: 2013 Reviews, Extensions-Remounts, Gilbert & Sullivan, Hypocrites Theatre, Lawrence Bommer, Musical, Steppenwolf Garage Theatre

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