Words by W. S. Gilbert and Music by Arthur Sullivan
The Guildhall,
October 1949
Cast List
The Mikado of Japan
Ko-Ko's Assistant

Notes on this performance

21. The Mikado

Encores banned…

In the years after the War, SAOS was awash with sub-committees and the one set up to investigate the possibility of staging two shows in a year recommended that doing so ‘might be possible as it’s part of the 25th Anniversary celebrations but two major shows a year is not desirable.’ The Committee decided to accept the challenge and recommended Iolanthe as the extra show but the members, as usual, dismissed their suggestion and voted overwhelmingly for The Mikado

Rehearsals began very soon after Pirates finished with John A Edwards and D Cecil Williams again making up the directing team. The problem of having too many in the chorus was again evident, but the Committee insisted that everyone who regularly attended rehearsals would be involved and nobody would be asked to stand down due to numbers – in the end there were 28 in the ladies’ chorus and a mere 21 in the men’s. Furthermore, the Casting Sub-Committee was instructed to select understudies for every role who would then be expected to attend the relevant principal rehearsals. They were unable to find a second Pooh-Bah, so an enquiry was sent to Eastleigh Operatic Society asking whether they had a suitable candidate. However, a request to reinstate encores for this show was not accepted.

Mr Skinner was far from pleased with the quality of the Echo report for Pirates and, on behalf of the Committee, wrote a letter of complaint in which he demanded that a more experienced critic attended The Mikado - his penmanship was obviously rewarded… ‘One of the things that for long has been high on my list of never would be missed is Gilbert and Sullivan played my amateurs, but SAOS’s performance of The Mikado at the Guildhall this week has made me change my mind.

The sparkle of the Savoy Operas can be obtained by amateurs apparently, and I think I shall transfer the entry to the list of things not to be missed, so long as the production reaches the high standard of The Mikado and so long as such a capable body of principals is available. The Mikado is the best I have seen from the Southampton Society. There ought not to be an empty seat in the Guildhall any night this week. I do not think local societies should have support unless they provide something good, but here is a production of real merit, and I shall be surprised if the reaction of many who attend is not a quick effort to book again, or at any rate to put Iolanthe on the list for next April.’

The reviewer ended with, ‘It was pleasant to hear the music of Sullivan. It was nice to be old-fashioned. The chorus of schoolgirls and nobles did its support work splendidly. The singing was good, the drill had been well learnt (an important feature) and the crowd scenes made the usual attractive Savoy picture. Producer John A. Edwards deserves to be complimented on a good job of work.’

The Mikado made an impressive profit of £447 and the Committee resolved to ask the membership to donate £210 from funds to charities at the next AGM.

Terry O'Farrell

Photo of Ko-Ko and Katisha

Tom Judd (Ko-Ko) with Marjorie Kennedy (Katisha)

Photo of Maids

Mary Richens (Pitti-Sing), Jill Thomas (Yum-Yum), Eileen Gosham (Peep-Bo)

 LB books dog

Hopefully coming to you in early 2021!