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The Mikado: Big In Japan

There’s much to love about New Zealand Opera’s latest offering The Mikado – from its Harajuku-styled school girls, magnificent magna-bright fluid set, putting the boot into a certain tangerine-hued newly-elected president, and the brilliant stand-out performance of local performer Byron Coll’s Lord High Executioner.

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Dragged kicking and screaming into 2017, the 132-year-old Gilbert & Sullivan’s famed fake Japanese town Titipu features mobile phones, fit bits and more socially-relevant cultural references than you can poke a chopstick at, alongside more classic slapstick comedy and the duo’s now famous witty ditties.

A killer set that seamlessly transitions in an effortless display of origami-chic provides the backdrop for some extraordinary talents where the lantern-jawed handsomeness of wandering minstrel/Japanese Bieber Jonathan Abernethy’s Nanki-Poo tracks down the object of his affection Yum Yum (Amelia Berry in fine, giggling coquettish school girl form), who is unhappily betrothed to Coll’s conniving executioner – who himself chews up the stage with some brilliant, next-level Kenny Everett campness (complete with a thick Scottish brogue) that keeps the audience in stitches.

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Props also go to Andrew Collis, he of the haughty sneer as the multi-tasking, backhand collecting Pooh-Bah, the Cruella de Vil creep of fur-clad harridan Helen Medlyn (sporting some serious cirque du face make-up) and an exceptional performance from Christchurch Symphony Orchestra.

While the story might be as old as time, New Zealand Opera has not only made the endearing tale socially relevant, but have also proved that The Mikado still has a few tricks up its fraying kimono sleeve.

The Mikado
9, 10 & 11 March
Isaac Theatre Royal
nzopera.com

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