The Seagle Music Colony opened its 93rd season Wednesday night in a production of Gilbert & Sullivan’s “The Mikado” that no one has ever seen before.
WHERE: Seagle Music Colony, Oscar Seagle Memorial Theater, Schroon Lake
WHEN: 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday, 8 p.m. Sunday
HOW MUCH: $25; 12 and under, $15
MORE INFO: 532-7875
That’s because its director, John de los Santos, updated Gilbert’s libretto to current-day Japan. Yet de los Santos’ sly, imaginative, very humorous and sophisticated dialogue never loses sight of Gilbert’s charm or works outside of the plot’s basic outline. He maintains continuity throughout the two acts and slips into the traditional sections gracefully. The near-capacity crowd, most of whom knew the plot, never got lost but could just sit back and laugh.
According to the Colony’s artistic director, Darren Woods, de los Santos got the idea to update from hearing a St. Louis Opera production. That company eventually also provided many of the colorful and sumptuous costumes, some of which were traditional obis. Most, however, were a mix of modern day street wear and theatrical ensembles designed by Asa Benally. The men’s thigh-long coats with colorful linings were quite handsome.
But with all those words, diction had to be superb, and it was. The voices, all from singers not older than about 25, were also solid, and the acting, which is primary in a G&S production, was always high-energy, mischievous and crafty.
Bass Edward Hanlon, as the multi-career holding Pooh-Bah, slithered and preened, exhorted and pleaded with exceptional glee. His speaking voice was eloquent and rich; his singing voice, which is still developing, had round burnished tones.
Baritone Lane Johnson, as Ko-Ko, was particularly charming in his “Willow, tit-willow” song with the marvelous mezzo-soprano Meaghan Deiter as Katisha. Deiter usually stole her scenes because she had such great presence and projected her harridan ways so powerfully. Amy Cahill, as Yum-Yum, was at her sweetest and most lyrical in her solo “The Sun and I” song. Bass Matthew Young, as the Mikado, enjoyed his part and sang with a rich, lustrous voice.
Richard Kagey designed the simple but effective set. De los Santos skillfully blocked the more than 23 players imaginatively — that sumo wrestler was a shocker — and provided rowdy choreography. Richard Williams and Christopher Devlin were the able pianists.