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The Mikado (Opera della Luna tour)

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
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a scene from "The Mikado"
Opera Della Luna has been building a reputation as one of the most interesting touring opera companies in Britain; with stunning costumes, inventive settings and imaginative direction their latest production "The Mikado" certainly stays true to the companies style.

The company has updated some of Gilbert's original lyrics to modern day equivalents (mentions of the HS2 and Jeremy Kyle are met with hoots of laughter) but has kept the show's original cheeky spirit. However, there are ad libs within the action which have a mixed bag of results and can make one feel as though it's cheapening the action.

One has to wonder how much of this is Jeff Clarke's original direction, and what elements director [Jenny Arnold] has added, for at times it can feel slightly mish-mashed.

The same can be said for some of the singing abilities. Tim Walton, who has previously succeeded in romantic leads, appears slightly overwhelmed as Nanki-Poo and his partnering of Victoria Joyce as Yum Yum highlights his limitations as an opera singer. Joyce's voice soars through the notes and is one of the clearest on stage, but even so her characterisation lacks definition.

As Poo-Bah, Carl Sanderson's deep voice fills the auditorium and his pomposity is giggle-inducing. Louise Crane gives a star turn as the aging cougar Katisha and her Joan Collins-esque performance is one of the most enjoyable elements of the show.

However, as an ensemble the company's diction means that a lot of the lyrics are lost to the music and despite their best efforts, none of them have the natural rhythm to carry the slightly lack-lustre choreography (which perhaps should be done away with all together!).

But it is Gabriella Csanyi-Wills' design and Guy Dickens' lighting that the audience come away talking about. Csanyi-Wills takes the action out of any known location and places it in a topsy-turvy wonderland, full of bright colours, textures and patterns which is fully complemented by Dickens' illumination of it.

Opera Della Luna has produced a jolly good romp of a show, but it doesn't quite match up to expectations raised by some of its previous work.

Roz Carter