After a few weeks of rehearsals, a group of children ranging from mid-teens to under 10 pulled off Gilbert and Sullivan's "Mikado" with professional aplomb on Saturday. The ensemble, combining the World Children's Choir and youngsters from as far away as Arizona and Toronto, offered a full-length version of this giddy but beloved English farce at the Ernst Community Cultural Center on Northern Virginia Community College's Annandale campus.
Perhaps most remarkable were the soloists. Joseph Herman, Ross Wolfarth and J.P. Klingenberg (the Mikado, Nanki-Poo and Ko-Ko) heroically tackled the leaps in register and nuances of sonority needed while keeping their inevitable adolescent huskiness within bounds. Rebecca Herman, Caitlin Lockwood, Katherine Ennis, Amanda Dahlin, Katie Saik and Katie Gerwin (Pooh-Bah, Pish-Tush, Yum-Yum, Pitti-Sing, Peep-Bo and Katisha) juggled Sullivan's frilly melodies while conveying the idiosyncratic persuasions and outrageous wit of their roles.
The Choruses of Nobles and School-Girls meticulously enunciated Gilbert's multisyllabic lines, projecting their voices with transparent resonance. All the performers also managed their assigned choreographic hurdles without tripping over kimonos or dropping their gesticulating fans. Conductor Sondra Harnes and director James Selway deserve accolades for finding the musical side of these young voices while avoiding raucous show-biz hype.