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Wednesday 14 April 2010

Review: Mika's Tribal Pop Opera

Posted in: Performance
By Matt Akersten - 14th March 2010

'He certainly knows how to make an entrance,' I laughed as Mika floated down to the ASB Theatre stage on a wire, the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra began and we entered Mika's World.

Sassy showman: Mika
I'd never been a huge fan of Mika, but I've only really been aware of him during his 'quiet years' featuring the odd TV show and CD single launch. But now he's back… and hosted a spectacular night out.

Mika rarely leaves the stage during the hour-long 'pop opera'. He's the consummate showman, wearing gorgeous costumes (including a very gay spiky headdress for one song), singing in Maori and English, and lightening the mood with a few one-liners here and there. His movements were graceful, and his voice was surprisingly good throughout.

Who says women can't become drag queens too? The highlight of the show was Jackie Clarke appearing in a stunning green frock with feathery headdress, spilling glitter from her brolly. Her song 'Do U Like What U See?' ("Do you want to dominate me, or serve at my feet?") was a lovely one for her. She was a very welcome addition to the show. Go Jackie!

Stunnig voice: Jackie Clarke
The night's dancers did a great job. I must especially mention the Mika Haka Company dancers – even some lesbians in the audience were raving about how "super hot" they were!

Naturally, the very capable Auckland Philly made the events on stage seem epic. The songs themselves were stirring. Friends of mine with good memories remember a few of them with fondness from the 1992 Hero Festival. My favourite was the last song: "Do you want to buy some illusions – slightly used." The scenery is totally stripped away, leaving Mika a tiny figure on the huge naked stage... ready to bow for his enraptured audience.

Pō | Beautiful Darkness was a one-off show to open the Aroha Festival, but knowing Mika, he'll secure 6-figure sums to take the 100% New Zealand Māori production to festivals around the world. That's an exciting prospect; I've always liked the idea of Mika as an ambassador for gay Kiwi life. In a world of rainbow flags, Stonewall tributes and all-American buff boys dominating global queer culture, it's about time Mika was let loose to shake things up on stages far and wide.

Matt Akersten - 14th March 2010

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