Summer gardens, majestic operetta - review by Ellie Court
Staging an alfresco Mikado is no simple undertaking, so the notion of presenting this comic operetta at RTBG's Japanese Gardens must have seemed irresistibly attractive to director Darren Sangwell.

The Set, at least, is in place. With minimal decoration, he uses its physical elements to good overall effect, though an awkwardly shaped performance space does constrain movement at times.

The Show is blessed with accomplished singers in Allison Farrow (Yum-Yum), Kristian Byrne (Nanki-Poo), Michael Lampard (Pooh-Bah) and Marilyn Smith (Katisha). And among the up-and-comers, mezzo Etenesh Bell is a delight.

As the Mikado, Paul Levett cuts an imposing figure, all the while milking his part for every drop of comedy intended. But it is the triple talented Jeff Michel who steals our attention en every scene as the ridiculously squeamish Lord High Executioner. His "Little List", updated with pointed local references, is a hoot.

Thanks to excellent sound and clear articulation all round, W.S. Gilbert's rapid-fire lyrics are perfectly audible and even if singers can't easily see Musical Director Ian Williams, his orchestra of nine does a sterling job pacing the accompaniment.

Costumes are unexpectedly lush and Kabuki-style make-up adds to a spectacle that delivers a delightful summer evening's entertainment.

Main gates open at 6:30pm and you are well advised to arrive in plenty of time.
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