The Hot Mikado | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader
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THE HOT MIKADO, Drury Lane Dinner Theatre. Joyously debuted locally in 1993 at Marriott's Lincolnshire Theatre, David Bell and Rob Bowman's swing adaptation of Gilbert and Sullivan's "Japanese" operetta is a nonstop, unstoppable delight, from its boogie-woogie hepcats in flaming zoot suits and fedoras to its Andrews Sisters "three little maids" in bodice-busting frippery and killer pumps. Energetically choreographed by director Marc Robin with jazzy salutes to the lindy and jitterbug, plus the most terrific tap dancing since Riverdance, this Hot Mikado is homage at its most hilarious. Bell and Bowman's jive-wise version continues a tradition that began with the minstrel-style Black Mikado in 1886: they change the first-act finale to a gospel rouser, "Braid the Raven Hair" to a hot tango, the madrigal to a scat session, and Katisha's lament to a blues showstopper.

The cast is superb. Curt Dale Clark's fleet-footed Nanki-Poo is also a golden-voiced crooner, and Kathy Voytko (recalling Patti LuPone) has fulsome fun as narcissistic Yum Yum. E. Faye Butler belts out Katisha beyond Hale-Bopp. If this Japanese joint is jumping, it's because these zanies could crack up a crematorium. Full of quick-change verve, Scott Calcagno has a wicked face for each of Pooh-Bah's offices, Ron J. Hutchins's Mikado taps his way to hoofer heaven, and Tom Mula is as funny as Ross Lehman's legendary Koko, ranging from gut-busting to sidesplitting. --Lawrence Bommer

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