Last night’s performance of The Mikado was a historical moment for the Rathmines and Rathgar Musical Society (affectionately known as the “R&R”) as it celebrates its centenary this year. Its very first performance in the Queen’s Theatre, Dublin in 1913 was also Gilbert and Sullivan’s much-loved Mikado, representing a satisfying continuity with last night’s performance. The R&R have produced over 250 shows with an impressive 2,600 performances in its hundred-year history. It is an unusual mix of both amateur and professional: the principal singers and the chorus must be amateurs, as set down by the Society’s regulations, while the orchestra, production team and technical crew are professionals.

The R&R elected for a traditional rendition of this Savoy operetta. The cast were clad in kimonos of vibrant colours and oriental patterns and the sets were cleverly constructed; large brass doors in the centre stage with suitable undulating roofs in the background suggestive of pre-19th-century Japanese architecture. The lighting was vivid and generally evocative of the prevailing emotion of the moment (red lightning when Katisha stormed in looking for her Nanki-Poo, for instance).

Gearóid Grant conducted the RTÉ Concert Orchestra with all the energy and enthusiasm that the music demanded. During the overture the strings sounded somewhat scratchy, an issue magnified by putting a microphone in front of every instrument, which was unnecessary. That said, the orchestra provided a generally reliable, well-paced accompaniment, though a few co-ordination difficulties with the singers appeared every once in a while. Grant notched up the excitement as the plot grew ever more convoluted, and songs such as “There is beauty in the bellow of the blast” were directed with great vim.

Peter O’Reilly sang Nanki-Poo in a light, pleasing tenor voice, settling more and more into the role as the evening went on. There was a natural chemistry between Nanki-Poo and his beloved Yum-Yum, played by Jeanne Wallace. It was evident that Wallace was very familiar with the role (having performed it in the UK before, according to the programme notes), conveying a suitably nuanced portrayal of infatuation, self-advancement and self-protection. Gifted with a versatile, mellifluous voice, she sang her showcase aria “The sun, whose rays are all ablaze” beautifully. Yum-Yum’s two other maidens from school, Pitti-Sing and Peep-Bo, were sung by Heather Fogarty and Tara McSwiney. Fogarty particularly impressed both on a vocal and theatrical level. Her subtle flirtations for social advancement with the powerful Pooh-Bah (sung by Ciaran Olohan) were most impressive as was her excellent voice.

Much of the comedy of The Mikado relies on the persiflage between Ko-Ko, the Lord High Executioner (sung by Damien Douglas), Pooh-Bah and Pish-Tush (Michael Clark). Douglas possessed fine comic timing with plenty of histrionics. There was some clever and amusing updating of his song “I have them on the list” to include politicians, boy bands, and contestants of reality music television shows, who were to be executed. Jackie Curran Olohan delivered a terrific Katisha, and though at times her voice might have wavered, she portrayed both the conniving, ambitious side and the pathetic and forlorn side to Katisha’s character very credibly.

All in all, it was a most enjoyable performance. Here’s to the next hundred years of the R&R.