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Mikado
Cast

Synopsis

History

 

 

 

MIKADO CAST

THE MIKADO - CHARLES POLE
NANKI - POO (his son, disguised as a wandering minstrel and in love with Yum-Yum) - BYRON MILLER
KO-KO (Lord High Executioner of Titipu) - KEN LEECH
POOH-BAH (Lord High Everything Else) - DEREK NORTON
PISH-TUSH (a Noble Lord) - ROBIN LAURIE

Three sisters - wards of Ko-Ko
YUM-YUM - LYNDA SMART
PITTI-SING - CAROLYN CARVELL
PEEP-BO
JENNIFER HAWLEY
KATISHA (an elderly Lady, in love with Nanki-Poo) - VIVIENNE WARD

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN OF THE CHORUS
DOREEN BEVAN, CATH CARTER, ANN DE VOIL, TRACIE FLAXMAN, ELIZABETH FOX, ZENA GRADY, MARCIA HARRIS, JO HAYES, CHRISTINE HERRICK, PAT HUMPHREYS, HELEN HURST, DEBBIE LEE, POLLY MARY, CLARE REYNOLDS, PAM STOKES, SARAH TAYLOR, PATRICIA TOWNSEND, BETTY WHALLEY. TOM ALLEN, PETER ASTILL, MIKE BEVAN, ERIC BLOWER, JOHN BOOTH, BRIAN FINLEY, RALPH FOGGIN, GRAHAM FROST, DAVID GILBERT, JOHN GOW, CLIVE HAWLEY, RICHARD HOPWOOD, DON JONES, RICHARD McKEOWN, FRED ROWE, ALAN STEWART, MIKE WHITLOCK.

 

PRODUCTION TEAM

Director - John Ragg
Musical Director - Peter Ward

THE STORY OF THE MIKADO

Ko-Ko has been condemned to death by the Mikado for flirting but reprieved at the last moment and raised to the exalted rank of Lord High Executioner. He has three school-girl wards (Yum-Yum, Pitti-Sing and Peep-Bo) and one of them (Yum-Yum) is to be his bride. However, she is in love with the disguised Nanki-Poo, the son of the Mikado who has fled his father's court to escape the amorous attentions of the elderly and unattractive Katisha.

The Mikado has decreed that, as no executions have taken place in Titipu for a year, somebody must be executed in the next month or the city will be reduced to the status of a village. Ko-Ko has to find a willing volunteer.

Nanki-Poo offers himself as the victim provided Ko-Ko allows him to marry Yum-Yum at once, so that he can have a month of sheer happiness before being beheaded. Ko-Ko agrees (on the basis that he will marry her once she is a widow!) and the happy couple are wed. (Their happiness is later marred by the disclosure that when a married man is beheaded, his wife is buried alive!)

Ko-Ko is alarmed to learn that the Mikado is on his way to see if his decree has been carried out. In a panic (and being of far too nervous a disposition to execute anybody) he bribes Pooh-Bah to sign an affidavit saying that Nanki-Poo has been beheaded. He and his partners in crime (Pooh-Bah and Pitti-Sing) gleefully describe the execution to the Mikado and Katisha, his "daughter-in-law elect", but then she realises that the victim is none other than the only son of the Mikado!

Nanki-Poo refuses to come alive again until Katisha is safely married to someone else. Katisha wants something horrible done to the perpetrator of the execution of her "fiance". Either way, it looks as if Ko-Ko is going to be a sacrifice…

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HISTORY OF "THE MIKADO"
The year was 1884. The future of the Gilbert & Sullivan partnership was in jeopardy as Sullivan had announced he would write nothing further for the Savoy theatre. Gilbert was annoyed as he learnt Sullivan's decision second hand and there followed a series of letters between March and May in which Sullivan claimed to be at the end of his tether with regard to the type and style of music required of him and asked (as he had done several times in the past) for "a story of human interest and probability".

Gilbert was offering a libretto which revolved around a magic lozenge and was too similar to "The Sorcerer" in Sullivan's view. Gilbert was very hurt and the stalemate continued, culminating in Gilbert being the one to say he "cannot consent to construct another plot for the next opera". The argument had therefore gone full circle with it now being Gilbert refusing to continue! Of course, neither of them really wanted to terminate the partnership so when Gilbert asked Sullivan if he would accept a plot without elements of the supernatural, Sullivan agreed.

It was less than two weeks later when Gilbert conceived a new plot, perhaps prompted by the Japanese sword on his wall (or by its falling off as legend would have it). By 20th May he told Sullivan the outline of what would become "The Mikado" and Sullivan records "I think the subject excellent - funny" (though how he reconciled his conscience to the highly improbable plot does not appear to be recorded!). Their work continued.

Gilbert was fortunate that a Japanese exhibition opened in Knightsbridge on 10th January 1885 in which a Japanese village was recreated with its hundred inhabitants going about their occupations. These included making fans and pottery, wrestling and performing a Japanese play. From this exhibition came little maids and an interpreter to demonstrate Japanese gait, giggles and fan movements to the Savoy cast.

Further help, probably including the genuine Japanese song "Miya-sama" was provided by Algernon Mitford, formerly Secretary of the British Legation at Tokyo.

The opera finally opened on 14th March 1885, with Sullivan composing until the night before the dress rehearsal and an exhausted cast who had been rehearsing all day and performing other operas every evening.

Despite this it had a tremendous reception and ran for 672 performances, the longest run achieved by any of the Savoy operas. Since that evening it has been parodied, translated and jazzed up but there can be few evenings when some kind of performance of 'The Mikado" is not taking place somewhere in the world.

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