Dir : Nigel Hickman    MD : Bob Carter    Chor : Elaine Gard

This is one of my favourite G&S Operettas, and there was much to enjoy in this production. As I have said previously, this group are well aware of the constraints that might be put upon them by virtue of the fact that their membership tends to be on the older side, but they very neatly sidestep that issue by playing to their strengths and ignoring any weaknesses, often delightfully sending themselves up. The chorus of schoolgirls 18 years and under, was just such an example. Sung straight, but with a knowing sense of irony – an implied “Yes, we are all well over 18, but who cares !!”   

This production was well cast and there were some good vocal and comic performances. The comic core of the production was very firmly in the capable hands of Neal Carter (Pooh-Bah), and Andy Killen (Ko-Ko). These well established players had excellent comic timing in dialogue and song and were very entertaining. Comic timing is not something you would normally associate with Operetta, but is essential in the lighter G&S repertoire, and the entire principal cast displayed excellent timing in this respect. Gill Pore (Pitti-Sing), and Kate Humphreys (Peep-Bo), along with Neal and Andy, had a great sideline in facial expression and comic asides.  

Everyone was in good voice and the female honours must go to Julie Robson (Yum Yum) and Victoria Norton (Katisha) who were both as good as I have heard them in recent years. Steve Salmon (Nanki-Poo) didnt disappoint and Chris Harvey (The Mikado) was a brave man indeed to partially shave his head to make this character seem very menacing visually.  

As with any Nigel Hickman production , the audience can always expect plenty of comic surprises. Here we had three extra little maids who sang a reprise of the song in Jazz style (a la Hot Mikado) , some nifty new lyrics for “I have a little list”, Andy Bell (Pish-Tush) who had a nice sideline as a council litter picker, and hilariously, two female sumo wrestlers to accompany Katisha.

 Visually the show was a great success with very colourful and attractive costumes (Berenice Costumes) and Scenery (home produced).  

Elaine Gard drilled the company well, with some simple, yet neat and effective choreography. Many members would admit to having two left feet, but that didn’t show here.  

As always, Bob Carters excellent orchestra were located off stage, and supported the company very well without drowning anyone out, especially as radio mics were not in use. I thought sound balance in this respect was the best for some years here.

 All in all, this was one of the better offerings I have seen by this group, and greatly enjoyed by the audience .