REVIEW: Gert Lush Choir, Mikado at Colston Hall. 9/10 (Peter Taberner)
GILBERT & Sullivan's comic operettas have proved perennial favourites for performance by amateur music groups.
Gilbert's witty lyrics and Sullivan's delightfully tuneful music combine to make for an enjoyable experience for performers and audiences alike.
In The Mikado, arguably their most popular opera, Gilbert was mocking the Victorian fashion for everything Japanese. He satirises the pompous, the over-privileged and the judiciary – all worthy targets still relevant today.
The famous Gert Lush Choir, derived from four Bristol community groups, filled the choir stalls and part of the stage.
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The young musicians of the Bristol Schools Philharmonia provided a full-size orchestra leaving just the front stage for the professional soloists of Opera Anywhere.
Conductor Mark Finch did particularly well to marshal the huge forces at his disposal and ensure the right balance between chorus, orchestra and soloists was maintained.
The choir, singing without music scores, demonstrated an impressive clarity of diction throughout. The soloists needed to work particularly hard, without the benefit of microphones, to project their spoken words to the furthest reaches of the hall.
In this topsy-turvy world Ko-Ko, played by Mike Woodward as a diminutive Baldrick-like character, is due to be executed for flirting, until he is appointed Lord High Executioner. His 'little list' of society offenders who would not be missed is traditionally updated, so this time we had cold-callers, bankers, and purveyors of dodgy beefburgers due for the chop. David Ireland's impressively puffed-up Pooh Bah was every bit the Lord High Everything Else.
With the simple use of wigs and fans, this concert staging had all the atmosphere you would expect in the theatre. The three little maids from school tripped onto the stage with authentic shrill girlish giggles whilst the man-hungry Katisha in her fright wig was the elderly ugly sister.
It all turns out happily in the end – nobody dies – the wand'ring minstrel Nanki-Poo marries Yum-Yum and Katisha gets Ko-Ko. This was a show worthy of filling the Colston Hall – which it did!