Hot Mikado – BCA’s 2017 Musical!
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Photo credits: Sabrina Sam
“If you want to know who we are…we are gentlemen of Japan!” The opening lines of Hot Mikado kicked off the jazzy musical at 7:30 Friday night (March 7), with two more performances following on Saturday at 2:30 and 7:30. The comedy, directed by Mr. Kaplan, boasted an on-stage pit, jazzy songs and dance numbers, as well as costume designs bright color. The set was of grandeur as well, featuring huge red gates and an elevated platform for the band.
Although the pit band is usually below the stage, the pit was smaller and remained onstage for this production. In some scenes, the band even participated in the acting. For example, Justin Ha, the pianist, is killed, and on a few occasions the characters and band converse.
The play follows Nanki-Poo, the son of the Mikado of Japan, disguised as a musician, and Yum-Yum, his love interest. Yum-Yum is engaged to Ko-Ko, the Lord High Executioner of Japan, despite her truly loving Nanki-Poo. The executioner’s job is to behead those who disobey the law, especially the anti-flirting law. Nanki-Poo reveals to Yum-Yum that he had left his position because he was part of an arranged marriage with Katisha, another woman. When Katisha arrives to claim Nanki-Poo, and Ko-Ko receives a letter from the Mikado that he must find someone to execute, they must find a way to dodge their fates. (A full synopsis of the play may be found here: http://www.theatreink.net/shows/2007/mikado/characters ; though note that the Mikado is female in the BCA production.)
According to a survey sent out a few days after the show, the main highlights of the show included character solos, comedic moments, musical numbers, and dancing. Many even compared the production to Broadway. “I really liked the Mikado’s tap dancing, but there was so much I loved so much about [the play],” said someone anonymously. “I wasn’t surprised, because once again BCA has had another amazing musical.”
When asked to choose their favorite moments of the play, responses from both audience and members involved students were quite varied. Grace, the flutist for the pit orchestra, wrote that her favorite moment of the play was “definitely Claire Kwon’s big solo because she is absolutely amazing!!”
“My favorite moment,” wrote Moritz Reichert, an audience member, “was definitely when Katisha and Pitti-Sing fought each other as she was about to reveal the true identity of the protagonist as the Mikado’s son.”
Besides the musical numbers, many audience members loved the comedy in the play.
“I don’t know if I could choose just one moment! I really liked all of Jasmine Sharma’s (Pooh-Bah) impressions, or Anastasia Lallos’s (Katisha) singing. Oh I really liked when Anastasia’s character had to come back on stage that one moment to take her lamppost with her off stage,” wrote Jacob Raghoobar, audience member.
“I really liked all the times the actors broke the fourth wall and spoke/looked directly at the audience. I also loved Jasmine’s character’s impressions and anytime Claire/ Anastasia/ Rose/ Darien sang. There are such talented people at our school and it’s such a pleasure to hear them share their talents with the rest of the school!!” said Merav Epstein, audience member.
Others said their favorite moments were “when Jasmine Sharma does all of the different voices,” or “when Ko-Ko starts breathing into a paper bag before trying to convince Katisha to marry him.” Jaid Green, a Gentleman of Japan, said “I like when The Mikado (Ebony) said ‘It’s written in Japanese… Oh wait we are Japanese!’ and then the entire cast let out a super loud, super quick, and super fake laugh.”
“My favorite moment from Hot Mikado was when [Ko-Ko] was singing the story of Tit-Willow. The dancing was very elegant and seemed to have a strong emotional effect on Katisha. But then once Tit-Willow was done dancing, he slipped her some money. The entire audience was laughing and I absolutely enjoyed it!” said Ryan Leung, an audience member.
Others appreciated the stunts performed onstage. One person said they liked “the gunshot and how all of the actors moved quickly and in unison. It was a very cool effect.”
Before the play, the play was rumored to have somewhat racist aspects. However, as Minsung Cho commented, “It was less offensive than I think a lot of people made it out to be.” One of the actors commented, “One of the biggest struggles that we had with this musical was making it its modern best, driving it away from its more racist roots. […] we all were trying out different things, and even cutting some parts of the show to ensure that it would be received well. We wanted to make sure that the show was fun for everyone and offered a tidbit of thought while again, remaining wholly fun, and certainly not offensive.”
The actors and everyone who helped offstage shared their perspectives on the difficulties of creating this production. For many actors, managing rehearsal time and schoolwork was a challenge. “At first it was difficult to manage staying after school and homework, but in the end I think it was worth it!” said Kavya Parameswar, a member of the ensemble. Max Feld, who played Ko-Ko, wrote, “I had to memorize my lines, which was difficult because there were so many and I had to know each one perfectly, as well as memorizing my music, blocking, choreography, etc.” Many other actors agreed that the rehearsals weren’t easy, but they paid off in the end. Max says he enjoyed “all of the laughter throughout ‘I’ve Got a Little List’, especially when I had to shake hands with an audience member.”
Anastasia Lallos, who played Katisha, said that her favorite moment onstage was “when Claire Kwon sings ‘Away don’t prosecute your quest’ and on cause then I would get to watch her sing and make funny faces at her.” Claire Kwon, Anastasia’s theater child, said that it was her favorite moment as well.
Offstage, though, there was plenty of work to be done by costume designers, stage crew, tech crew, orchestra, and many other involved individuals. “I was in costume design and overall it was a very fun experience since the style and material/pattern of clothing were very different from what I usually have seen,” said Anjana Prakasam, costume designer. “There were just some struggles with the last minute costumes.” Some actors said that their favorite moments offstage included getting costumes though!
Melissa Kaliberda, a Gentleman of Japan, said “My duet with my friend Liza where we did gymnastics tricks” was her favorite moment of the play.
Many cast members commented on the more sentimental moments backstage. Lily Cohen, another Gentleman of Japan, wrote, “Before a few of us went on for one of the songs on closing night, four of us sat down in the stage right- alcove and did a little ‘prayer circle’. We all held hands, closed our eyes, and said we would miss waiting in the alcove together.”
“This show was one of the best shows I have ever been in,” said Julia Huston, a Gentleman of Japan. Jaid Green added, “Thank you to Mr. Kaplan, Ms. Crochet, Mr. Spinelli, and everyone else involved for creating an amazing show!”
Feel free to check out some other photos from the play below, taken by Sabrina Sam!