Ballymoney woman prepares for theatrical journey to Japan

THE Mikado, as Emperor of Japan, has decreed that all acts of flirting within his jurisdiction of Titipu will be outlawed - but one Ballymoney woman is having none of it!

This is the risible premise for the fast-paced musical comedy “Hot Mikado” presented by Portrush Music Society at the Riverside Theatre from 27 April to 4 May and Ballymoney teacher Laura Fisher is playing one of the lead roles.

Inevitably, chaos ensues as the emperor’s son is forced to run away from the imperial court and its ludicrous officials when a matronly femme fatale mistakes his innocent familiarity for an amorous approach. Of course virtue is ultimately victorious and true love conquers the awkward arrangements of court etiquette.

Director Kerry Dunn’s approach to this production takes much from popular Japanese “Manga” comic books including the schoolgirl chic of the female costumes. The male costumes are brought right up to date, being influenced chiefly by the geeky retro “Gangnam” style of the anarchic South Korean pop star PSY. Kerry’s stylised set design exudes authentic vintage appeal.

The musical score is bursting with foot-tapping numbers in a variety of styles including jazz, blues, swing and gospel. Richard Campbell, the Musical Director, has again used his expertise to mine and hone the talents of the Society to produce some incredible four part vocal harmonies as well as encourage outstanding solo singing performances.

The principals in this year’s show include the incredible singing talents of Helen Wilkinson as Katisha and Laura Fisher as Pitti-Sing.

The comedic partnership of Alan McClarty and Harry Stinson creates some hilarious scenes in the interaction between Lord High Executioner and Lord High Everything Else. The hopes of young love are represented by the beautiful Louise McClarty as Yum-Yum and Peter Olphert as the plain but well-connected Nanki-Poo. The coolest gentleman of Japan, Pish-Tush, is played by the irrepressible Rory Sheehan, the senior little maid Peep-Bo is played by Amy Rankin and the part of The Mikado is taken by Harry Coates.

Ditanya McKinty’s clever choreography reflects the popular dances of the 1940’s with elements of Jazz Tap, the Lindy Hop and Jitterbug in some of her arrangements. In the bigger dances, incorporating the full ensemble, more than a nod is directed to the genius of the likes of Busby Berkeley whose works are synonymous with the greatest of the Hollywood musicals.

The show is a spectacular opportunity for escapism for anyone nostalgic for musical extravaganza. In true Gilbert and Sullivan fashion this adaptation presents a funny but mind-boggling critique on the social mores of our time. Just what Jeremy Kyle would make of the complicated love tangles is anyone’s guess!

Tickets and further information available from the Riverside Theatre box office, telephone 028 70 123 123 or online at www.riversidetheatre.org.uk.