Written by 12:08 am Chapman, Musical, Orange, Uncategorized

Hot Mikado @ Chapman University – Review


Poster of The Mikado

Photo by Kathryn Wilson

Written by Alina Mae Wilson 

The 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 preparing for a 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 instrumentals drowned out the performer’s voices. During the solos, when they quieted the band down, I had no difficulty 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.”

 The program 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 were being criticized at the time for promoting unqualified men to places of high office to spare other rich people shame. This perfectly parallels Koko’s promotion to the highest post in town. Although I understood how silly Koko’s promotion was at the time, I do not doubt that it would have been much more amusing if I lived at that time or were even more of a history buff.  


The set was fantastic. 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 another place or that the choreography was suffering. “Hot Mikado” is a solid show; unfortunately, the issues with music and outdated humor keep it from being a show for everyone.  


Date & Location :

October 2-4, October 9-11

Waltmar Theatre
One University Drive
ORANGE, CA 92866

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