After a somewhat lackluster beginning, the Washington Savoyards gradually snapped into form Thursday night in their performance of Gilbert and Sullivan's "The Mikado" at the Duke Ellington Theater. The men's chorus did not project enough energy and volume in the opening number, and some of Ko-Ko's early attempts at humor fell flat. But the men seemed better once the women's chorus arrived, and Jon Riley, as Ko-Ko, soon began to act, sing and dance his way cleverly and nimbly through the key role of Lord High Executioner.

Michael E. Loomis also added humor with his portrayal of Pooh-Bah (Lord High Everything Else), especially when he roared out his titles, collapsed while bowing to the Mikado and shouted down the orchestra's bassoon. Smooth choreography frequently enhanced the comedy: The women tiptoed and giggled in unison, and the men brandished their fans about like weapons.

Among a cast of generally competent singers, several stood out as exceptional: James Orban (Nanki-Poo) displayed a strong, supple tenor; Christina Pasqual (Yum-Yum) sang with a confident, full-bodied soprano; and Catherine Huntress-Reeve (Katisha) showed a contralto of operatic quality.

The production was ably supported by conductor Richard Fazio and an adept orchestra. .