New York Times
Music Review | 'The Mikado'
Tweaking a Few Lines (They’ll None of Them Be Missed)
Published: January 8, 2007

Albert Bergeret and his New York Gilbert and Sullivan Players have been plying the Savoyard repertory for more than three decades — starting at a time when small operetta companies were plentiful in New York — and outliving all the competition. That isn’t how fans of this repertory, and even admirers of this company, would have wanted it; although the groups that flourished in the 1970s worked on tight budgets that barely allowed for makeshift sets and costumes, their combined activity kept the scene lively and the music on the stage.
Still, it would be hard to find a more devoted champion of this repertory than Mr. Bergeret, whose company has come a long way. Its productions, if by no means Met-scale extravaganzas, are attractively built. And the troupe has moved from Symphony Space to the more grandly theatrical City Center. If only its season stretched through the year, as it did in the early days, instead of being confined to a few weeks every January.

Mr. Bergeret revived his trusty production of “The Mikado” on Saturday, and the evening performance (there was also one in the afternoon) had everything an admirer of this music could want. There was, for example, a fine balance of the traditional text and topical amendments.

In “As Someday It May Happen,” for example, Ko-Ko, the squeamish Lord High Executioner, expanded his little list of those who would not be missed to include S.U.V. drivers and “the checkout girl at Rite Aid who’s perpetually” annoyed. In the “Mi-Ya Sa-Ma” chorus the nonsense syllables were replaced with the names of Japanese electronics and motorcycle companies after the first pass. And when the Mikado sang of making the punishment fit the crime, he suggested severe penalties for cellphone users in the theater.

Mostly Gilbert’s libretto and Sullivan’s music were left to do their work as written. That work includes skewering governments, bureaucrats, legal arcana and, not least, opera itself. Along the way it offers a parade of Gilbert and Sullivan favorites, among them, “A Wand’ring Minstrel I,” “Three Little Maids From School Are We” and “Here’s a How-De-Do.”

Daniel Lockwood’s strong, attractive tenor served Nanki-Poo’s music well and proved to be the most polished voice in the cast. But vocal beauty isn’t the point here. If Stephen Quint was a vocally rough-hewn Ko-Ko, he has a good theatrical voice and an ear for broad comic timing. Broader still was Louis Dall’Ava’s portrayal of Pooh-Bah as a roly-poly in makeup reminiscent of that worn by the rock band Kiss.

Elizabeth Hillebrand gave a lovely performance as Yum-Yum, and she was well matched in the ensembles with Melissa Attebury, as Pitti-Sing, and Lauren Wenegrat, as Peep-Bo. Dianna Dollman contributed a suitably imperious rendering of Katisha. Keith Jurosko, as the Mikado, and Edward Prostak, as Pish-Tush, played their roles with comparative subtlety. Mr. Bergeret paced it all comfortably and drew a solid performance from the orchestra.

The New York Gilbert and Sullivan Players perform “The Mikado” on Tuesday and Friday through Sunday at City Center, 131 West 55th Street, Manhattan; (212) 581-1212. The company will perform “The Rose of Persia” on Thursday and “The Yeomen of the Guard” on Saturday.