A View from the Cliff: “Singapore Mikado” at Theater 2020

Air raid! It’s 1941 and the British stronghold at Singapore is under attack. Although the enemy is at their gates, the English soldiers and civilians throw a party. Their entertainment is the classic Gilbert and Sullivan operetta, “The Mikado.” Yes, it’s going to be a very, very interesting performance.

On Sunday afternoon, Producing Artistic Directors David Fuller and Judith Jarosz are everywhere. Fuller is the show’s director, does lights, then plays Colonel Brian Lefferts and pompous Pooh-Bah. He also conceived the double edged British/Japanese concept with Charles Berigan.

Tireless Jarosz is this show’s choreographer. She also greets the crowd. Equally fascinating as he chats with the audience is Sir Evelyn Estebrooke (David Arthur Bachrach), who morphs into the Mikado himself. Tying the show together is Musical Director Michael Hopewell who plays the piano with incredible wit and energy.

Though not exactly a play-within-a-play, the cast’s dual roles as British soldiers (and civilians) then as Japanese characters in “The Mikado” creates a powerful paradox. The Japanese-themed operetta takes clever, comical jabs at British and Japanese norms. Meanwhile, the “Singapore” component, unrepentant, shatters both the British and Japanese sense of complacency.

The cast, as usual, is extremely talented. Their harmonies are glorious, and their humor and mannerisms are a delight. Beautiful, elegantly vain Yum-Yum (Brianne Keefe) and her true love Nanki-Poo (Michael Penick) are charming and very watchable. Their frequent sense of irony is particularly appealing.

Ko-Ko, aka The Lord High Executioner, is played by Greg Horton. His timing, along with facial and physical expressions is very, very funny. His bride Katisha (Chrysten Peddie) swaggers across the stage with a wonderfully facetious sense of ownership.

Pitti-Sing (Lorinne Lampert), Peep Bo (Michelle Seipel) and Pish-Tush (Thomas Slater) provide strong musical and comical strength.  The Ladies and Gentlemen’s Ensemble develops its own characterizations. It is made up of Jefferson Behan, Lauren Green, James Junio, Michael C. O’Day, Natalie Ramirez, Megan Sears and Kristen Sweeney.

Theater 2020 stands by the motto “Visions for a New Millennium.” The on-stage talent is driven by its artistic leadership. The current production utilizes Ricky Lurie, Annie Harris (costumes), Dana Robbins, Marcina Zaccaria and Marilee Kilsheimer (Stage Managers).

“The Singapore Mikado” is currently running at St. Charles Borromeo Church on the corner of Aitken and Sidney Place in Brooklyn Heights.  For this and future productions surf to www.theater2020.com, www.facebook.com/Theater2020 or Twitter@Theater2020. As always, save me a seat on the aisle!

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