NEW DAWN

RIS­ING SUN OPERA THE MIKADO OPENS ON THE COAST

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - FRONT PAGE -

T hit the stage in 1885, but Ja­panese-themed mu­si­cal com­edy The Mikado has main­tained its tongue-in-cheek hu­mour which cap­ti­vates au­di­ences world­wide. Opera Queens­land’s new pro­duc­tion of the clas­sic has been hailed a win­ner by crit­ics af­ter its Bris­bane sea­son and now it’s Gold Coast au­di­ences’ chance to find out why. The pro­duc­tion, by di­rec­tor Stu­art Maun­der, ar­rives on the Coast this week­end to launch its re­gional tour.

Maun­der was joined by de­signer Si­mone Ro­ma­niuk and chore­og­ra­pher Siob­han Ginty for the new in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the comic op­eretta. Maun­der says The Mikado will be a great night out. ‘‘This is a univer­sal piece with witty di­a­logue, ridicu­lous sit­u­a­tions and glo­ri­ous melodies,’’ he says.

‘‘It’s lasted over 100 years and is still the most­per­formed, most-loved in the Gil­bert and Sul­li­van canon.’’

Fus­ing tra­di­tional Ja­panese looks with mod­ern Hara­juku street styles, Ro­ma­niuk has cre­ated eclec­tic cos­tumes which are il­lu­mi­nated on stage.

Mae­stro Brian Cas­tles-Onion, who con­ducts the Queens­land Sym­phony Or­ches­tra Ensem­ble and Opera Queens­land Ensem­ble, says ev­ery on­stage role in The Mikado ‘‘is rid­dled with wit and charm’’.

‘‘Like the per­fect souf­fle, the score is a com­bi­na­tion of the right in­gre­di­ents, in cor­rect pro­por­tion, with ex­actly the right bal­ance of fluff and full­ness,’’ he says. ‘‘This op­eretta al­ways sat­is­fies the palate.’’ The Mikado fol­lows ab­surd an sto­ry­line where flirt­ing is a cap­i­tal crime pun­ish­able by death, and Ko-Ko has been con­demned to death for be­hav­ing amorously.

Ac­tor Eu­gene Gil­fed­der says at first he found the idea of play­ing Ko-Ko ‘‘daunt­ing’’.

‘‘Grou­cho Marx and Eric Idle are some of the great ac­tors who have played Ko-Ko be­fore me,’’ he says. ‘‘I had a legacy star­ing down at me. ‘‘Ko-Ko is a good-hearted flirter. He is a funny en­joy­able fool. I en­joy clown­ing around as him.’’

Gil­fed­der says the ‘‘leg­endary’’ opera has pro­duced a swag of won­der­ful, well-known songs.

‘‘ As Some Day it May Hap­pen, Three Lit­tle Maids From School and The Flow­ers that Bloom in the Spring – they have be­come light opera hits,’’ he says. ‘‘Any­one who knows The Mikado will know the songs.’’ Gil­fed­der says The Mikado is a ‘‘light and charm­ing’’ piece of opera.

‘‘The Gold Coast can ex­pect to be charmed and come out smil­ing,’’ he says.

‘‘It is a great joy to carry on the charm of it. The au­di­ence will have a good time.’’

plays The Arts Cen­tre Gold Coast on Satur­day at 7.30pm. Tick­ets are $52.

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A scene from Opera Queens­land’s new pro­duc­tion of – fea­tur­ing (from left) lit­tle maids (in pink) Deb­o­rah Rogers (Peep-Bo), Kristy Swift (Yum-Yum) and Emily Burke (Pit­tiSing) and Eu­gene Gil­fed­der (as Ko-Ko) – which plays the Gold Coast this week­end.

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