Orange County Theatre Reviews


Poster of the The Mikado – Play Hot Mikado is based off of the Mikado

Written by Alina Mae Wilson 

Satirical musical “Hot Mikado” playing at Chapman University, isn’t my cup of tea but it probably should be.  

Our tale takes place in a Japanese town with natives who are preparing for the wedding between two people who don’t want to be married, a man named Koko and a young woman named Yum Yum.  Nanki-Poo the true lover of Yum Yum arrives and is dismayed to find that the inept and buffoonish Koko is not only not dead as Nanki-Poo thought, but has been recently named The Lord High Executioner making it impossible for him to marry Yum Yum.  

I tried to enjoy the music but the performer’s voices were drowned out by the instrumentals.  This is strictly during the segments with multiple singers, during the solos when they quieted the band down I had no difficulty at all distinguishing one word from another.   However, the issues with audibility were constant enough to inhibit my enjoyment of the songs for most of the production–the glaring exception to this is Beauty in the Bellow. The music is so catchy, the choreography so lively, and the energy between the two actors onstage is so infectious that you can’t help but sit up and take notice.  

“Beauty in the Bellow is indisputably the musical highlight of the show.”

 In the program it says that the script is written to poke fun not at the Japanese but at the British Empire.  I  found out that the British government/society/institutions was being criticized at the time for the promotion of unqualified men to places of high office to spare other rich people shame. This is a perfect parallel of Koko’s promotion to the highest post in town.  Although I understood how silly Koko’s promotion was at the time, I have no doubt that it would have been much more amusing if I were living at that time, or even just more of a history buff.  

The set was awesome, they have this Japanese style bridge that they moved around to set the scene. This was a big hit for me, they used it consistently but in many different ways so I never had trouble feeling I was in a different place, or that the choreography was suffering. “Hot Mikado” is a solid show unfortunately the issues with music and outdated humor doesn’t make it a show for everyone.  


Date & Location :

October 2-4, October 9-11

Waltmar Theatre
One University Drive
ORANGE, CA 92866

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