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In the Bloomington Music Works production of "Mikado" tour director and conductor Brian Samarzea is taking travelers on a delightful journey to Gilbert and Sullivan’s mythical Japanese town of Titipu. The final tours of the season are scheduled for Friday and Saturday at eight and Sunday at two.

Tour members can expect to view the unashamedly lovely native ladies and gentlemen in beautiful ceremonial costumes by Dana Tzvetkov in a variety of settings. The natives of Titipu are natural entertainers. The trip includes an opportunity to hear the locals sing and dance the stories of their primitive life. In addition there will be a chance to observe the charmingly naïve intricacies of the court etiquette of these simple folk.

But, seriously, not too seriously. The production at the Buskirk Chumley Theatre is a real pleasure to see with many high points. Sunday afternoon’s Wandering Minstrel, the love-lorn Nanki Poo was tenor David Sievers. Sievers sang beautifully and his demeanor simply radiated comfortable good will. Nanki Poo’s beloved Yum Yum was Noriko Hashimoto. Hashimoto was lovely to listen to as well. She has some trouble with English diction, but somehow turned this to comic advantage. Hashimoto was ably supported both vocally and comedically by her sisters Pitti Sing, Annie Gill, and Peep Bo, Shaunica Pridgen.

Nanki Poo’s rival for Yum Yum is the newly appointed Lord High Execution Koko, Matt Mindrum. Mindrum cut a fine figure, smoothly delivered all those fast lines for which Gilbert and Sullivan operettas are famous and was even tenderly effecting in the sad song of the Dickie Bird who dies for love. Allied with Koko was the head Pooh Bah, Mike McGregor. Yes, the "Mikado" is where that title, "Pooh Bah," comes from. McGregor did a fine job with the juicy part of the man who holds all of the town of Titipu’s governmental positions at once, a man with so many titles that he makes conflict of interest into a fine art, and sometimes has to have one of his roles turn a blind eye to the activities of another one.

The most fearsome character in "Mikado" is Katisha, the Mikado’s Daughter-in-Law Elect. Katisha is supposed to be so ugly that Nanki Pooh fled from his arranged marriage with her. Sunday’s Katisha, Patricia Thompson, sang well and managed to be fearsome enough, but despite her best efforts didn’t really score high on the ugly meter. Rounding out the cast for this Titipuan love story is the Mikado himself, Todd Wiezoric. Weizoric looked every bit the imposing Eastern Potentate from the tip of the ostrich plume on his elaborate headdress through the bright colors of his tunic, sash and trousers to the soles of his shoes.

"Mikado" is lovely to look at. It’s very cleverly staged with plenty of good simple comic choreography for the chorus and the principals. The singers all handle both the vocal and dramatic chores well. The orchestra, especially the clarinet and the brasses is very strong. The darts of Gilbert and Sullivan’s social commentary, though concealed in their faux nineteenth century Japanese setting can still strike home in a few thought-provoking places.

Bloomington Music Works production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s "Mikado" directed by Brian Samarzea plays this Friday and Saturday at eight and Sunday at three in the Buskirk-Chumley Theatre.

You can see this and other WFIU theatre, film and opera reviews on our web site at WFIU dot Indiana dot edu.

George Walker

While completing an M.A.T. degree in English at Indiana University, George Walker began announcing for WFIU in 1967. Along with regularly hosting classical music shows, he interviews artists and reviews plays and operas.

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