My family and I saw The Mikado at the , performed by the Role Players Ensemble.
I have to admit that I was more excited about seeing the drama troupe and the actual theatre rather than the play itself. I'm not an extreme Gilbert & Sullivan (the playwrights) fan but my husband is and my kids are into it, so we made a nice day of it, on a beautiful Sunday matinee.
So, let's get the negative out of the way - the costumes (which, I was told at intermission by a volunteer were rented) were okay and appropriate, but unfortunately there were a lot of loose threads and ripped clothes, ill-fitting trousers, capes that weren't worn correctly, and undergarments seen (when they weren't supposed to be!)
Unfortunately, when a main character (or two, or three) is wearing a costume that doesn't fit properly, it takes away from the performance. The audience member (me) tends to pay more attention to THAT, rather than the dialogue or action. And seeing an actress's brassiere through an entire scene is embarrassing for everyone. This is Gilbert & Sullivan, not Cabaret.
The band seemed to do what they could, with limited sources. It would have been nice to have a fuller sound, but each musician (usually) cost $$$, and so they were probably light on that front. Understandable. An amateur theatre doesn't have a lot of $$$ to go around.
The use of white face and masks was inconsistent and didn't seem to make much sense. When the white masks came out, I thought maybe the text would be adapted to reference a Greek Chorus or Chinese theatre, but that thread didn't seem to follow through the entire show. The Asian actress didn't wear the mask (because she's Asian?), but the African American actress' white makeup was more blue than white. This created a lot of questions from my kids - they understood the show (they've seen the Mikado several times), but they didn't understand why "that lady's face is blue" and "that lady isn't the same." Plus, the direction seemed a little flat; pacing was slow at times, and blocking boring.
On the brighter side, the theatre itself was pretty darn nice. It's a small, but respectable space, and there seems to be a lot of lighting equipment and decent backstage area to put on a decent show. The set design was interesting - I have never seen The Mikado start with faces in a fan; that was creative and like the orchestra, accomplished a lot with (seemingly) very little.
The best thing in, my honest opinion, of this performance of The Mikado was the voices. For an amateur production, there were some amazing voices in this - and looking at the biographies, I don't think the term amateur should be used for some.
Standing out particularly was Robert Sholty as the Lord High Executioner (with his "little list" - what a riot!), David Zelenka as Nanki-Poo and Sara Couden as Katisha. A lot of the singers in this production could give The Lamplighters, or any other operetta group, a serious run for their money. This singing, alone, was worth attendance and elevated an otherwise very amateur performance to more of a professional production.
So I'm glad we went.
I look forward to seeing more of a straight drama in the future and experiencing the Village Theatre in a different (less musical) way.