Princess Peach - Empress of the World (ladyofsalzburg) wrote,
Princess Peach - Empress of the World

I went to the Theatre yesterday.  I like the Theatre and I've seen this particular Society perform many shows over the years.  Some of them were classics, some of them were unknown to me, some of them were modern updated versions of classics.  Only once have I left the Theatre not having enjoyed the show.  That was yesterday. 
The performance was fantastic, the set amazing, the costumes delightful (I wanted some of them), the acting good and the singing good (overall).  But the show itself I didn't like. 

It was Hot Mikado. I had been told before that it would be a fun modern version of The Mikado.  I don't remember all of The Mikado but roughly speaking it is a comedy operetta (or musical if you'd rather) set in Japan with some interesting character names (Yum-Yum, Nanki-poo and Pooh-bah to name three), a lighthearted romantic storyline with plenty of twists and some typical Gilbert and Sullivan music and songs. Hot Mikado takes the same storyline but alters all the music and songs.  Some remain similar but most have been altered.  I have, essentially, no issue with this but my issue comes mostly from the fact that what was an operetta set in Japan became an operetta set in New Orleans in the Forties but with a Japanese set and some Japanese jokes. The music covered a variety of styles but there was a lot of gospel of which I have no idea what was actually being sung because it was too loud and contained, unfortunately, a lady warbling over it all. 
If you're struggling to imagine what the show was like imagine Disney's The Princess and the Frog but with Japanese background artwork and a few Japanese jokes thrown in.  Confusing, eh?
It didn't help that for the majority of the second act the people behind me talked all the way through so not only was I not enjoying the singing I couldn't hear the speaking because of the idiots behind me!

Researching tells me that there was a show called The Hot Mikado created for an African-American cast in 1939 which is basically the Mikado but with a different cast (traditionally they are all Caucasian) and this is where the music was changed.  It became jazzier to fit with the Afro-American influences which music knows well.  Still a little odd but I can at least see the relevance here.  
Hot Mikado is an adaptation of the 1939 production of The Hot Mikado because apparently very little remains of it.  The characters from the original Mikado have been exaggerated (which made it more fun) and stolen from the internet this is the rest of the information:
'The show is set in Japan in the 1940s, with suggested settings and costuming combining Japanese design with American 1940s design. The set uses Japanese architecture, executed in the textures of The Cotton Club (neon, brass, mahogany). The costumes include zoot suits, snoods, wedgies and felt hats, executed in the colorful silk kimono textures of Japan.

The score uses much of Sullivan's original music but is reorchestrated using 1940s popular musical harmonies and arrangements and a wide range of styles, including jazz, hot gospel, blues, rock, Cab Calloway swing, and torch songs.[1] The 'Three Little Maids' sing in Andrews Sisters' style. Many of the songs of Hot Mikado have the same name and melody as in The Mikado, but often have a twist. For example, the song "I Am So Proud" has the same melody for the verses, changing only towards the end, where it folds into a more jazzy round. The dances called for include the Lindy Hoptap-dancing, the jitterbug and other 1940s dances.'

I don't know about all that but it won't be a show I'll be rushing to see again.  Modernise it, yes, but don't throw in a whole different genre while you're at it.

Tags: review, show

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