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'The Mikado’: The Lyric updates a Gilbert and Sullivan classic

The play is timely even without its references  to cell phones, Bain Capital or the T.

Though it's been 127 years since Gilbert and Sullivan penned "The Mikado," the delightful spoof of social mores and political buffoonery feels like it could've been written yesterday.

The Lyric Stage has been splendidly transformed into the fictitious town of Titipu by set designer Janie Howland. Despite the serene backdrop, however, the town is run afoul by political hacks, ridiculous laws, inept schemers and greedy, ruthless pols of questionable breeding.

Though it's a familiar tale, director Spiro Veloudos updates the lyrics to include contemporary references to the MBTA, Supreme Court Justice Scalia, the Tea Party, Bain Capital and cell phones. Some work, some don't, but the effort wasn't necessary. This satiric operetta works as is.

The absurd, convoluted plot is driven by convicted criminals (flirting is the crime), fear of being beheaded, unrequited love, concealed identity and, of course, power and money. But at its core, "The Mikado" is ultimately the love story of Yum-Yum (Erica Spyres) and Nanki-Poo (Davron Monroe).

Once again, Spyres delivers the kind of nuanced performance that will leave you thinking the part was written for her. The soprano's glorious vocals and engaging presence make everyone fall in love with Yum-Yum, vanity notwithstanding.

Monroe also delivers an impressive turn as the wandering minstrel. Confident vocals and an authentic sense of vulnerability make it easy to hope he gets the girl.

Bob Jolly and Leigh Barrett also turn in funny performances. Timothy John Smith rounds out the impressive ensemble with a nearly scene-stealing turn as the Mikado.

The plot

When wandering minstrel Nanki-Poo learns that “cheap tailor” Ko-Ko has been sentenced to death for flirting, he makes his way to Titipu to claim Yum-Yum as his bride.

Unfortunately, crazy laws and an unattractive, unappealing stalker prove to be almost insurmountable challenges for him.

If you go



‘The Mikado’

Through Oct. 13

Lyric Stage

140 Clarendon St., Boston

$25-$62

617-585-5678

www.lyricstage.com

 
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