The Gilbert and Sullivan Players came back to Wolf Trap this year to dazzle with “The Mikado”. Once again, NYGASP did not disappoint! They are truly one of the best and most consistent troupes I have ever seen! “The Mikado” is one of the best known from the Gilbert and Sullivan canon and they way NYGASP perform it, you could see it every year and never get tired of it.
David Macaluso is sheer genius on and off stage. He plays Ko-Ko in this season’s production and what he adds to the show is possibly indescribable. It’s little things here and there. Touches that you either see or don’t but he is worth watching his every move to make sure that you don’t miss it. Although, nothing he does is to steal focus, just add to the brilliance of the show. He is responsible for the changing of lyrics and lines to keep the show updated, fresh, and fun. Things are altered without going overboard, which becomes incredibly important. Classics are classics for a reason and there is a right way and wrong way to update classics and Macaluso and NYGASP always get it right!
Along with Macaluso, onstage is a triumphantly talented cast. Louis Dall’Ava portrays Pooh-Bah with the right amount of expert timing. David Auxier is Noble Lord Pish-Tush. I loved Auxier last year in “Pirates of Penzance” and again this year. He has a terrific singing voice. All three men have excellent diction also.
Daniel Greenwood, who seems to play all of the “good looking, leading man” parts was once again the romantic lead as Nanki-Poo. He too has very good diction and is a beautiful tenor. For me, he is my least favorite of the men. He doesn’t add extra zeal to his part, but maybe that is on purpose because he is more of the straight man that way.
Then, there are the ladies…(I love these names)…Yum-Yum, Pitti-Sing, and Peep-Bo, played by Sarah Caldwell Smith, Erika Person and Rebecca O’Sullivan respectively. The ladies all have wonderfully beautiful, melodic voices. The diction lacks and it has in other shows as well. Being that I was only preliminary trained in Opera, I want to assume that maybe the higher the notes, the bigger the loss in diction, when it comes to singing Opera!? While notes were effortless for the women, the diction went by the wayside for the First Sopranos. Pitti-Sing, Erika Person, the Alto of the trio, had a better time putting forth the lyrics at an understandable range than the others. And that goes for the ensemble as a whole. The higher the notes, the less understandable the lyrics, which of course explains why the leading men and the male ensemble don’t have any trouble. All three ladies and the female ensemble have lovely tones though. The trio also have good timing, but the ultra-humor seems to be left to the men in this one.
Secondary players, Quinto Ott and Cáitlín (pronounced Cathleen) Burke certainly brought the stage to life with their portrayals of The Mikado and Katisha. Ott has a distinctive Baritone and made for a commanding presence onstage. Burke is larger than life with a brash belt and terrific diction, that make you take notice. My favorite moment of the show is Burke’s duet with Macaluso towards the end of the show, “There is beauty in the bellow of the blast”. Where some would fall short of Macaluso’s talent, Burke rises to the challenge and matches him punch for punch.
NYGASP is a professional organization founded in 1974 and is a highly reputable company for it’s standard of excellence. Therefore, I don’t need to go into detail about the technical side of things. The costumes, lights, sets, wigs, everything is as you would expect a professional company to be, but I do have to say that this family of thespians has that extra something special and it shows throughout any of their productions. I highly recommend seeing any show they perform!
Production Grade: A++, funny, poignant, and hard to beat this all-around level of talent.
Venue Grade: A+, definitely the right place to this type of show, I only wish they would perform for more than two nights!
For other productions and dates for the NYGASP go to www.nygasp.org
For Wolf Trap’s calendar www.wolftrap.org
TRR Theatre Revue by Denise A.