The Mikado & The Pirates of Penzance

The Mikado

There’s too much flirting going on in the town of Titipu- and it’s against the law! So the Mikado (emperor of all) decrees that heads must roll. But what can you do when love is in the air?

The Pirates of Penzance

In the midst of Chicago’s coldest climates, treat yourself to an 80 minute exotic excursion featuring bathing beauties, philosophizing pirates, and grown men in remarkably short shorts. Back for the third year in a row due to overwhelming audience demand!

Presented by The Hypocrites

Performed in Repertory ~ Thru – Jan 13, 2013

@ Chopin Theatre

1543 W. Division, Chicago

Show Type: Musical Comedy

Box Office: 773-278-1500

The Hypocrites

Lyric Opera of Chicago
The Mikado
by W. S. Gilbert & Arthur Sullivan

By Lori Dana

If it’s operetta, it must be holiday time at Lyric. This year’s musical sugarplum is that beloved Victorian chestnut, Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado.  Given a gorgeous art deco makeover by British designer Mark Thompson, this version is set in 1922. The minimal, graphic sets are the perfect backdrop for Lyric’s marvelous chorus, used to maximum effect in the staging, which with its Busby Berkeley style scale and precision choreography also reflects the 20’s theme.  The production opens on a series of huge gilt-edged red screens that open to reveal a gaggle of bowler clad Japanese gentlemen. (Cleverly crafted pops of “Mikado red” create visual accents throughout the production). The first number introduces us to the story of the characters that drive the piece: Nanki-Poo the wandering minstrel (Toby Spence), his love Yum Yum (Andriana Chuchman) and Ko-Ko (Neal Davies), the tailor who has been saved from execution by being promoted to Lord High Executioner. Now Ko-Ko is free to marry his ward, Yum Yum. But she loves Nanki-poo. Oh, HOW will the two young lovers manage to get together?


If only the lovely brevity of this Mikado’s production design was reflected in Gilbert & Sullivan’s musical numbers. We love the rollicking choruses.  Chuchman’s charming Yum Yum is quite captivating.  Young Mr. Spence’s soaring tenor, wonderful physicality and rock star looks are exciting.  Pooh Bah (Andrew Shore) is hilarious. And stars Neal Davies, James Morris (The Mikado) and Stephanie Blythe (Katisha) are amazing. Even maestro Sir Andrew Davis gets into the act. Lyric has done everything possible to make this production fresh and compelling, both visually and musically, but your humble reviewer finds the overworked humor of G & S tiresome and Ko-Ko’s number in act 1 (with a stanza rewritten to plug Lyric productions) quickly turns from amusing to an exercise in questionable taste.


That said, there are quite a number of heads bobbing in time to the lovely music and audience members singing along with their beloved Mikado.  For many, it’s a perennial favorite although admittedly not one for your humble reviewer.  Still, this Lyric production has many things to recommend in it including top vocal talent, marvelous acting, gorgeous lighting, costumes and sets (whose 1920’s style are particularly effective in the magnificent art deco setting of the Civic Opera House).

As always, the flawless music of the Lyric Opera orchestra and chorus carry the entire production on their very capable shoulders.  If you love Gilbert & Sullivan then this production is a must-see and even if you don’t, you will still find much to marvel at.  For G & S in the 21st Century, this is as good as it gets.

3 STARS

(“The Mikadoruns through January 21, 2010 at the Lyric Opera, 20 N. Wacker Drive. 312-332-2244)

Lyric Opera of Chicago

The Mikado production photos by Dan Rest.

* Visit Theatre In Chicago for more information on this show. The Mikado – Lyric Opera – Play Detail – Theatre In Chicago

The Mikado

Wit, charm, fabulous music and lyrics — it’s the most celebrated operetta in the English-speaking world, and it’s been tickling funny bones for more than a hundred years! How can you not have a good time visiting the town of Titipu, where Nanki-Poo (second trombone in a minstrel band) wants to marry the lovely schoolgirl Yum-Yum? Alas — she’s promised to Ko-Ko (a tailor), who’s changed his occupation to Lord High Executioner so he can save himself from being beheaded for the horrible crime of…flirting! But the Mikado, ruler of all, insists that heads must roll!

Read the 3 STAR review here: The Mikado – Lyric Opera REVIEW – Chicago Stage Review

Thru – Jan 21, 2011

@ Lyric Opera

20 N. Wacker Drive, Chicago

Show Type: Opera

Box Office: 312-332-2244

Lyric Opera of Chicago