Sunday, January 11, 2009
My fingers are bruised (okay, not actually yet... but they feel like they might be)... which has only ever happened once before, but for very different reasons...
But once again I'm getting ahead of myself... let me back up... *rewind*
After two and a half months of waiting (for me anyway, Ma's only been waiting about three weeks) and more plotting, scheming and retail related trauma than I care to think about, it was finally time for The Mikado!
We got all dolled up (or as dolled up as we get in these situations) and went out to dinner, appropriately enough at Kwik Stix (and the food was both yummy and very "kwik" since there weren't that many people in the restaurant)... and then we were off to the Festival Theatre.
I will admit to a certain degree of nervous excitement and anticipation once the doors opened and we took our seats before the big red curtain. Partially the nervous came because while I basically knew what was to come, I wasn't sure how this version was going to compare to the one Ma's seen on video about eighty million times.
There was a momentary wish that I had gotten tickets much, much closer to the stage, but I'd forgotten that the chorus occasionally comes out and sits on this extra walkway around the orchestra pit, effectively blocking the view, so while it might have been nicer to be a LITTLE closer, our seats were actually pretty good.
It felt a touch strange to be seeing everybody on stage, but to be hearing their voices piped through the sound system. I know it was necessary, but once or twice it was a little disconnecting (not that the voices were out of time or anything), but it almost felt like I was watching a movie or something... but only for a moment. Maybe that just says more about my lack of experience with going to the theatre, I don't know...
The other thing that was a little weird was seeing the majority of the roles that I'm fairly familiar with (having see Ma's video around two million times) played by other people... and because it was a "refreshed" production (according to the program) rather than a revival, there was stuff that was different, some of it good, some of it bad, some of it I didn't even notice (actually I think most of it probably fell into that last category).
Colin Lane was fairly funny as Pooh-Bah (just quietly, I've always kinda preferred his former comedy partner Frank Woodley), although he didn't seem to be nearly as commanding physically on the stage as Jon English was when he was in the role.
David Collins (of Umbilical Brothers fame) as Ko-Ko, the Lord High Executioner, was actually both surprisingly good, and a little disappointing in spots. The good came when he held is own against professional singers, the bad was when he not only broke the fourth wall (since that's part of the fun of Gilbert and Sullivan), but it felt like he broke character too.
Speaking of professional singers, Helen Donaldson reprised her role as Yum Yum from the original production... and honestly part of me wishes she hadn't. Not that she was bad (although the female leads in this particular brand of G&S always seem to be high, screechy singers and you usually can't understand a damn thing they're singing, particularly when they're doing it solo), but while she's well preserved, I'm pretty sure she's old enough to be the mother of her supposed love interest. It would just have been interesting to see what a younger performer could have brought to the role.
Which brings me to her love interest... Nanki-Poo, played by Graeme Isaako last seen (although not by me) on the Australian version of So You Think You Can Dance. If I'm being nasty, then it's a good job that he can dance, because his singing wasn't that great (also, quite probably, little bit gay)... but he did spend a lot of time up against Donaldson, and like I said, she's certainly got a set of lungs on her.
The person I was the most pleased to see return (you know, out of a possible TWO) was David Gould as the Mikado. Honestly, there really isn't anybody else who could do the role justice (well there probably is, but I don't know how many of them have both the deep, deep, deep, deep voice and the pectastic chest that David does).
And that segues nicely into one of the things I like most about these versions of The Mikado... the all male chorus (woohoo)... with a number of bare chests, lycra clad buttocks and just general cuteness (Conrad Lange, I'm looking directly at you!)... and considering the show starts with one of them descending from the rafters, riding a huge drum and clad in essentially just a fundoshi... yummy. Although it was amusing to note that one of them had gotten a little too much sun in the past couple of days and he was all pink... poor Chris, what with his shirtless costume and all... hehe...
But even though I've had a little whinge about a few of the performers, I did really, really enjoy myself. I knew almost all of the songs (and could mouth the words quite happily), a number of the updated "topical" references were quite funny (Ko-Ko's comment about the Myer Centre escalators got a big laugh) and they'd kept a number of the "old" funny lines (from the 1996 version).
More importantly, Ma had a whale of a time, which was the whole point of the exercise. The tickets might have been expensive, but they were well worth it.
Which brings me back to my poor hands...
After the "original" G&S finale, the whole cast do a montage (or whatever the musical equivalent is) of all the songs from the show and everybody takes their bows and we clapped, and actually Ma and I (amongst others) clapped along with the music, and then applauded the various performers as they took their bows... which is why my hands are very possibly going to end up being bruised... we're talking about ten minutes (or it felt like that anyway) of clapping. Plus random clapping at the end of each musical number (or appropriately significant bit) for the three hours of the show.
And after the fireworks and explosions and falling sparkly confetti (Ma stuck some in her program as a souvenir) we also gave them a standing ovation (well, about three quarters of people did, Ma and I included obviously), but the one thing that surprised me was that when they went off stage they never came back out for an encore... whether they figured it wasn't going to get much better than a standing ovation or what, I don't know... but Ma and I stayed as the band played the WHOLE finale again (clapping all the way still), and we even got to applaud the band because we'd stuck around for so long.
So yeah, a very good time was had by all...