Saturday, May 10, 2008

The Mikado in Jerusalem

The Encore! Educational Theatre Company, in association with The Jerusalem Gilbert and Sullivan Society, recently produced Gilbert and Sullivan’s “The Mikado” (or “The Town of Titipu”.) The Mikado was first performed at the Savoy Theatre, London, on March 14, 1885, under the personal direction of the author and composer.

On an evening during President Bush’s visit, with many Jerusalem streets blocked off, it was uplifting to see the Hirsch Theatre crowded with those of us not willing to give up on the annual G&S performance in Jerusalem; and we were not disappointed. The humor and absurdities of this operetta were brought to life by a huge cast of school girls, chaperones, townswomen, nobles, guards, coolies, attendants…even jugglers, as well as a fine group of soloists in the lead roles. Bezalel Manekin was a highly entertaining Pooh-Bah (Lord High Everything Else); Jordan Zell was a comical Ko-Ko (Lord High Executioner of Titipu), burdened with the ever-changing problem of his job as executioner as well as that of whom to marry; Aaron Allsbrook, playing Nanki-Poo – the Mikado’s son disguised as a wandering minstrel – has beautiful vocal color; Daniel Forst showed humor and musicality as Pish-Tush (a Noble Lord). Claire Greenfield was a convincing and funny Katisha. Aviella Trapido and Shira Maddy-Weitzman played Yum-Yum’s devoted sisters; and Lisa Woo, with her gorgeous voice, charmed the audience in her role of Yum-Yum. Marc Zell played the Mikado himself with humor, musicality and commanding stage presence. There was much excellent singing and fine diction throughout. The cast used British-accented English that G&S performance demands; they added hilarity with their occasional references to Israeli life and current events.

Kudos to stage director Robert Binder, as well as to Arlene Chertoff for her delightful choreography. Musical director, Paul Salter, with a small but excellent group of players, brought out the detail and nuances of Sullivan’s wonderful music. All those on and behind stage in this Encore! production are to be congratulated for their devotion to amateur theatre and for the time and work they invested to make the performance such a success.

Gilbert and Sullivan’s “The Mikado”
Encore! Educational Theatre Company
Robert Binder-stage director
Arlene Chertoff-choreography
Paul Salter-musical director
The Hirsch Theatre
January 10, 2008

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