Wolf Trap’s summer season is in full swing and tonight is the last hilarious performance of The Mikado by the New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players. Artistic director Albert Bergeret brought this classic tale of love gone awry into the current era with musical social commentary specifically catered to a Washington, DC audience. The delightful operetta is a can’t-be-missed, side-splitting evening of turn-of-the-century physical comedy, witty modern jokes slipped into the classic content, and a fabulous cast and ensemble dedicated to making you laugh so hard you cry.
Set in a wonderfully designed Japanese garden in Titipu, we have the great pleasure of following Nanki-Poo (Daniel Greenwood) on his journey to reconnect with his love Yum-Yum (Sarah Caldwell Smith), the ward of Ko-Ko (David Macaluso). Greenwood and Smith were note for note in beautiful harmony the entire evening and their love was both sweet and wickedly funny. Macaluso’s incredible command of physical comedy delighted children and adults alike while his smooth baritone garnered sympathy from the most unlikely of characters.
Pitti-Sing (Erika Person) and Peep-Bo (Rebecca O’Sullivan) charmed the crowd as Ko-Ko’s other wards and flitted everywhere at once with well timed poise and played humorously off the noble Lord Pish-Tush (David Auxier) to help Yum-Yum achieve her goals. The Mikado of Japan (Quinto Ott) was impressively royal, even if his fan was not quite what you’d expect of one so exalted. Person and O’Sullivan trilled and delighted with sweet voices that mingled melodiously with Auxier’s baritone and Ott’s belting bass.
Pooh-Bah (Louis Dall’Ava) makes his mark as the most amusing and charming on the stage. Dall’Ava is a true comic genius, wonderful costume which enhanced every laugh and smile. The entire performance was enhanced by the talented ensemble cast of quirky Japanese villagers who just happened to sing and dance in step. The scorned lover Katisha (Cáitlín Burke) made a striking silhouette with her elaborately designed hair and costume, and her love of striking vicious poses. Burke’s crystal clear soprano will send shivers down your spine when you hear “Alone, and yet alive!” and “There is beauty in the bellow of the blast”.
Complete with all the classic musical numbers, the funniest songs left the audience in stitches and gasping for breath. “Behold The Lord High Executioner,” “As Some Day It May Happen,” “Mi-Ya Sa-Ma,” “Willow, and Tit-Willow” were all uproariously funny while “Here’s a how-de-do!” and “With Aspect Stern And Gloomy Strife” were both impressively executed and full of more fantastic fan twirling. From the perfectly tweaked lyrics and slapstick use of props to the unbelievable physical pratfalls and clownish choreography, each number entertained and sent everyone into hysterics.
Costume Designer Gail J. Wofford brought the era of The Mikado to life with vibrant colors, traditional textures, and the unforgettable Puh-Ba’s belly. Bright fabrics and vivid makeup complemented the neutral tones and soft edges of Scenic Designer Albére. Lighting Designer Brian Presti illuminated the well crafted set and imperceptibly shifted the mood from scene to scene.
5 stars for a hilarious operetta that dazzles and invites you to laugh at a fantastic set of circumstances peppered with witty jokes, fabulous footwork, and a multitude of amazing voices.
Running Time: Approximately three hours long, with one 15-minute intermission.
The Mikado by New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players ends its run tonight at 8 PM at at Wolf Trap’s Filene Center – 1551 Trap Road, in Vienna, VA. To view the calendar of upcoming events, please click here.