Arts / Sending the fans home humming

Nanki-Poo (played by Lachlan McGinnes) and Yum-Yum (Alyssa Morse) as the young lovers in “The Mikado”. Photo by Bec Doyle

Nanki-Poo (played by Lachlan McGinnes) and Yum-Yum (Alyssa Morse) as the young lovers in “The Mikado”. Photo by Bec Doyle

JUDE Colquhoun is an unabashed Gilbert and Sullivan tragic – “I absolutely love doing G&S”.

That’s good, because she’s the director of Queanbeyan Players’ coming production of “The Mikado”, part of the 50th birthday celebrations for the community group that began in 1965 and now numbers around 120 members from both sides of the border.

What got Colquhoun hooked on G&S was “the wit, the humour – there are some very droll lines that are meant to be delivered straight-faced… I’m still laughing at lines even though I know the show backwards,” she says.

The other attraction is in the beautiful harmonies that Arthur Sullivan wrote.

“If you listen carefully to our orchestra playing, you realise the music is very intricate, but very catchy,” she says.

“People will be humming something from the show as they come out.”

Colquhoun has lost count of how many times Queanbeyan Players has staged “The Mikado”, saying: “It’s part of the history of Queanbeyan Players and I’m proud to be part of that history.

“Although we take small liberties, basically the lyrics are the same, so it won’t upset the purists.”

She enthuses over the colourful costumes designed by Janette Humphrey, who will incorporate some of the beautiful kimonos created for an earlier production of “The Mikado”.

Colquhoun’s vision is of the fictional town Titipu encountering modernity, allowing her to take advantage of the same “Japanese” colour and life that appealed to Gilbert and Sullivan.

As president of the Queanbeyan Players, Peter Smith sees this celebratory G&S as “a return to our roots”. He joined the Players in 1993 and has been president for about six years. He figures that they did one G&S a year until very recent times.

“They’re amusing, they’re entertaining and there’s a lot of work for the choir to learn the wonderful harmonies,” he says.

Smith gets to sing the Mikado’s big Act II song “A More Humane Mikado”, but there’s a little bit of improvisation. Just as WS Gilbert saw fit to poke fun at the London railway system, so Smith – in the guise of the Mikado – has something to say about “Mr Barr’s new railway line”.

Smith sees a rosy future for the Queanbeyan Players, with next year’s planned shows “The Music Man” and an amazing reworking of “The Merry Widow” into Australian idiom.

“The Mikado”, The Q, Queanbeyan, November 6-15, bookings to theq.net.au or 6285 6290.

 

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