The Doha Players present their version of The Mikado, and we’re just filled to the brim with girlish glee. Director Christopher Churchouse tells what to expect when Gilbert and Sullivan hits Qatar.
So, first off, what is this show?
Hot Mikado is based on the Gilbert and Sullivan classic musical operetta [The Mikado] which was written in 1885 and remains the most frequently performed Savoy Opera. The original work has been translated into numerous languages and is one of the most frequently played musical theatre pieces in history. In 1986, two American composers re-worked the show, modernising it by taking the original music and giving it a new twist by including jazz, hot gospel, blues, rock, swing and torch songs.
What’s it about?
The plot of Hot Mikado does not stray far from the Gilbert and Sullivan original, with a similar satiric tone. Set in a little town in Japan, the show follows the journey of a young man who is searching for the love of his life, but is foiled by the actions of his father and other people around him. Determined to win his quest, he agrees to sacrifice his life, for a short time, for his love. However, as in all musical comedies, his persistence wins out and he reunites with his family, wins the hand of his love and they all live happily ever after.
Hot Mikado is a bit different than the original, right?
The show is set in the 1940s, with suggested settings and costuming combining Japanese design with American 1940s design. The set uses Japanese architecture and the costumes include zoot suits and felt hats, made in the colourful silk kimono textures of Japan. It’s a night of great music, lively dance and movement, great costumes and pure entertainment. This is not a show of intense emotional struggle like Les Miserables, it is a show of fun and enjoyment.
Gilbert and Sullivan weren’t messing around; this is a tough show, isn’t it?
The greatest challenge is the music and the dance. The music is exciting and fast and has many elements that make it difficult to perform, especially if the actor is a trained classical singer being asked to sing jazz. Couple that with the amazing choreography where the actor needs to be able to sing, dance and breathe. It makes for a lot of fun and laughter!
What’s the cast like?
We have an amazing cast from every walk of life and nationality in Doha. It is one of the pleasures in directing a show here in that there is such a pool of talented actors and singers all keen to find the time and effort to put on the best show possible. The cast committed to learn the music, the dance and the script to produce a show full of fun and excitement.
What’s it like doing a musical?
Doing a musical is tough. There are so many elements to the show that have to all come together at the one time. It is different to doing a play, where you focus on the script and the production needs, such as the set and the props. You have to pull together the musical elements, the dance elements and the script and then take it to a stage that can fit up to 30 performers at the same time. Working with the whole cast to get them co-ordinated and in the zone has many challenges.
What do you love about it?
The people. People who commit to do a musical production are a special group of people who all have one passion; musical theatre. We all come from different backgrounds, have busy lives and are juggling many balls in the air just to get to work and care for our families, but come 7pm we all meet at the rehearsal room and we all have the one goal – to learn this script and score and put on a fantastic show.
What’s your favourite part?
Favourite part of the process is the rehearsal period when you see some of your vision work. As director I see how I want it to look in my head. My challenge is to communicate it to the actors. When I see they have “got it”, when I see they have made it happen on the stage, it is such fun. Favourite part of the show – The Mikado’s entrance. You’ll have to watch it to know why!
Hot Mikado takes to the stage May 29- June 1, location TBD. Tickets are QR75. For more information and tickets, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 4447 4911.