The Young Victorian Theater Company started its 25th season Saturday night with a spirited rendition of Gilbert and Sullivan's "The Mikado." The production was generally excellent, with committed singing and tons of good-natured over-acting.
The principal characters were all strong. Steven Goodman's Ko-Ko was sort of a combination Groucho Marx and Roger Rabbit. Mark McGrath gave Pooh-Bah the perfect level of pomposity. Richard Crawley as Nanki-Poo and Jennifer Davison as Yum-Yum were vocally impressive but a little cold on stage. Christine Thomas was a devilish Katisha, reveling in the juiciest music in the score. The balance of the cast -- Gary Leard (Pish-Tush), Charlotte Anderson (Pitti-Sing), Nicolee Wilkin (Peep-Bo) and Michael Begley (Mikado) -- were also vocally pleasing and sold on the Gilbert and Sullivan tradition.
The only fly in ointment was the orchestral support conducted by Cyrus Ginwala. The ensemble lapses were too numerous to overlook. Conductor Ginwala may be part of the problem.
His gestures were so large that sometimes the right side of the orchestra was in sync but the left side was not, and vice versa. This could be pardoned if you had 100 people, but a 25-piece orchestra should be tighter. Repeated performances could help.
The sets by Paul Shapanus and lighting by Heather Sorenson were simple but effective. The costumes by Christine Pruitt were tasteful and elegant. The Chorus of Schoolgirls, Nobles, Guards and Coolies were extremely enthusiastic, and stage director Gary Leard gave them ample silly things to do. They responded with 110% effort.
The near-capacity crowd appeared to enjoy the "updating" of the score, done by inserting references to the likes of Newt Gingrich, Bob Dole, Fells Point and numerous jabs at the O.J. Simpson trial.
This listener wondered if the production would have been just as funny, and maybe a little more classy, if a little less of this material had been used.
The Young Victorian Theater Company has staged a good production. If you love the Savoyard tradition, this "Mikado" will give a great summer night's diversion.
What: Musical performed by the Young Victorian Theater Company
When: 8:15 p.m. July 14, 15, 21 and 22; 3 p.m. July 16.
Where: Centennial Hall at Bryn Mawr School, 109 W. Melrose Ave.
Tickets: $18.50 and $21.50; $12 for children 12 and under.
Call: (410) 323-3077