Looks can be deceiving as performances were excellent

The Grantham Operatic Society Cast of The Mikado.
The Grantham Operatic Society Cast of The Mikado.

Review

The Mikado

Grantham Operatic Society (Guildhall Arts Centre)

Call me a traditionalist, but I like my musicals to be spectacular.

From Lloyd-Weber to Puccini, the costumes should be as lavish as the music.

So my first impression at the Guildhall Centre for GOS’s Mikado was a little disappointed when the men’s chorus opened the operetta wearing clothes that appeared to be off-the-peg from Boundary Mill.

And when Nanki-Poo arrived in a belly-bursting tee-shirt, it just confirmed why singers in the Mikado should wear traditional Japanese dress.

As for the Lord High Executioner receiving an email from the Mikado on his smart phone - Pooh! Bah! Humbug!

It’s like setting the Gondoliers on the Witham at Little Ponton instead of Venice.

I softened a little when the Three Little Maids arrived in St Trinian uniform, and hardly noticed by the time of Act One finale, when Katisha turned up wearing a 19th Century kimono without explanation.

In the second half, I had accepted this modernism. The performances were excellent, and after a week trying to decipher BBC1’s Jamaica Inn, it was pleasing to understand almost every word being sung or said.

I had almost forgotten about the dress, until the arrival of the Mikado himself, dressed as Willy Wonka. Don’t ask!

No matter. This was an overall fine performance.

Mellisa McNaught, Marie Hibbert and Heather Walker were a terrific trio as the maids from school, Robin Myers was a fine Nanki-Poo, while the reliably camp Carylon Viles and Tony Smith stood out as Ko-Ko and Pooh Bah respectively.

Doug Cole was imperious as the Mikado/Willy Wonka and Helen Gray a menacing Katisha while Billy Bamberger was obviously relishing his role looking after the young maidens.

The lesser players in the chorus were in equally good voice (although I bet the ladies would have preferred to dress up a bit).

And one department that does seem to get by every year is the band. Excellent without being intrusive.

But there was one acknowledgement to the past. The audience had to stand just before curtain up for the National Anthem.

It’s a long time since I’ve had to do that.

The Mikado continues at the Guildhall Arts Centre until April 26. Call the box office on 01476 406158.