Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.
When looking for a swinging night at the theater, you can't do much better than Hot Mikado. Now playing at Ford's Theatre, this colorful production has a lot to boast about, including a robust score, lively choreography, and a very talented cast.
Hot Mikado is a parody of the Gilbert and Sullivan operetta The Mikado. Set in Japan, the show features the inhabitants of a village called Titi-Pu. A wandering musician named Nanki-Poo enters the scene, looking for his true love, Yum-Yum. Unfortunately for Nanki-Poo, Yum-Yum is about to marry her ward, Ko-Ko. What transpires is a rowdy tale that combines Gilbert and Sullivan's timeless style with a heavy dose of swing and blues.
This is not the first time Ford's Theatre has presented Hot Mikado. The piece had its world premiere at the historic theater in 1986 and a later run in 1994. David H. Bell has returned as the show's director and manages to make this new production feel fresh. Mr. Bell also adapted the book and lyrics, both of which are skillfully constructed. The music, adapted and supervised by Rob Bowman, flows beautifully from one style to the next.
Jonathan Sharp and the ensemble of Hot Mikado
Set Designer Daniel Proett reprises his role as well. Mr. Proett has designed a deceptively simple set. Partnered with Lighting Designer Diane Ferry Williams, the pair successfully captures the spirit of the show. Costume Designer Mariann Verheyen is making her debut at Ford's Theater. Her 1940s inspired costumes just scream "cool."
There are several Broadway veterans in this cast. Ted L. Levy (Thou Shalt Not) oozes charm as the Mikado. His superb dance number is a true crowd pleaser. Another Broadway alum, Jonathan Sharp (The Rocky Horror Show), provides a Pish-Tush with great moves and terrific comic timing. Kelli Rabke is a bit cutesy in her depiction of Yum-Yum but it seems to work for the character. David Ayers is sweet as the lovelorn Nanki-Poo. Both Chandra Currelley as Katisha and LaParee Young as Pooh-Bah tear up the stage with their soulful voices. But the biggest standout in this group is Ross Lehman. Yet another Broadway veteran (The Tempest, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum), Mr. Lehman repeats his Helen Hayes Award winning role of Ko-Ko with knee-slapping hilarity. His performance of "Tit-Willow" is not to be missed.
Hot Mikado is flashy and fun. It will especially appeal to those who have a fondness for traditional musical comedy. This one is definitely must-see. You can catch Hot Mikado at Ford's Theatre through June 16th.