The Hot Mikado
by San Diego School of Creative & Performing Arts
Hot Mikado is a jazzier 1939 adaptation of Gilbert and Sullivan's operetta The Mikado, which had an all African American cast featuring Bill "Bojangles" Robinson as The Mikado.
The plot revolves around lovestruck Yum-Yum and Nanki-Poo, who in this version is played by a female. The two wish to marry but Yum-Yum is promised to Ko-Ko, the High Executioner of Titipu. The Mikado mandates that Ko-Ko execute a person within 30 days, and he must do this to keep his position. Nanki-Poo chooses to be executed in order to marry Yum-Yum and spend the rest of her days with her.
San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts' Ole Kittleson Theatre is a great little black box theatre and the Hot Mikado's set is minimal, colorful, and the perfect backdrop for the village of Titipu, Japan. Pish-Tush and the ensemble open the show with, "We Are the Gentlemen of Japan." Jazley Genovese plays Pish-Tush (a character also usually portrayed by a male actor) and although the audience knows she is female (and a pretty one at that); she imitated male characteristics very well. Miss Genovese has strong vocals and even more impressive is her acting when not speaking a line or singing. It was difficult to take my eyes off of her, as she possesses not only great stage presence, but also great expression.
Also enjoyable to watch was Harley Douvier's Ko-Ko who is consistent throughout and a natural actor. Love sick Nanki-Poo (Judith Elster) is a spectacular tapper and shows off her skills in, "A Wand'ring Minstrel I." Alexandria Loucks played the sought after Yum-Yum. The chemistry between Miss Loucks and Miss Elster was authentic and both were quite adorable. Loucks has a vigorous and clear belt voice in "Sun and I."
Our Pitti-Sing was played by Kameryn Harris, who possesses a strong and soulful voice and Zyanya Hernandez-Grant gave us a playful Peep-Bo.
One must not fail to mention Michael Voegele as Pooh-Bah, who showed us his comical ways of wearing many "hats." Mallory Johnson was the lively Katisha and Lenith Hernandez was the epitome of the Mikado, with his pimp style hat and bombastic personality. Even though he only makes his appearance in the second act, he is very much a memorable character.
The ensemble is also splendid in this production and gave a high energy performance throughout. Seann Altman, Kayleigh Hulse, Joseph Kabling, Eliana Krasner, Hayley O'Toole, Adira Rosen, Jessica Baynes, and Nisa Mercado were all wonderful. The cast delivered some entertaining numbers such as, "Behold the Lord High Executioner" and "I've Got a Little List."
Erin O'Connor-Fetters and co-choreographer Kevin Burroughs choreography is creative, clean and pure fun. One of my favorite numbers was "Braid the Raven Hair."
There are some cool elements in the show, one of which is the Titipu band which sets on stage. The interaction between the actors and the band was a nice touch. Dr. John Reynolds' 6-piece band was superb and no one would ever know that these musicians were high school students. All individual band members deserve mentioning: Martin Matiarena on Bass, Evan McColm on the Trumpet, Jarien Jamanila on clarinet, John Zinser played the flute, Alec Hamilton on Keyboard II, and John Steele on percussion.
Jessica Bird did a brilliant job in casting and directing this show. The scenes and transitions were seamless, and her actors were very believable. Overall the production was fantastic and by the end I fell in love with certain characters. The entire cast was wonderful and I look forward to visiting the Ole Kittleson Theatre again in the future.
Performed March 21 - 29, 2014
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