Words by W. S. Gilbert and Music by Arthur Sullivan
Nuffield Theatre,
January 2016
Cast List
The Mikado of Japan
Kenji the Komodo Dragon

Notes on this performance

126. The Mikado   

A pre-war French crooner in Titipu…

The AGM of 2015 bought significant changes, after three years as Joint Chairs Jonathan Fulcher and Terry O’Farrell both stood down to allow more time to be spent on business and home situations respectively – after five years as Vice Chair Sam Sly also resigned to concentrate on DYT affairs. The Society’s dwindling finances indicated that it was indeed time for a change at the top and the enthusiastic trio of Mark Allen, Brigitte Lavoie (Joint Chairs) and Jo Barnard (Vice) were duly elected.

There was freshness about the Directing Team as well with both Sarah Fulcher (Director) and Fiona Willsher (MD) making their debuts in their roles – Sarah had impressively reset two reprises of HMS Pinafore in 2013 and the Committee was eager for her to attempt a main show. Sarah Hogger joined them as Choreographer and it soon became obvious that the three ladies were a well-organised, creative and dynamic team.

Rehearsals began well when Caroline Taylor (named the Best Female Voice at the 2014 International Gilbert & Sullivan Festival) joined the company but took a turn for the worse when two strong sopranos dropped out soon after the principal auditions and bordered on the catastrophic when two tenors followed suit a few weeks later – the men’s chorus then numbered eight and six of those were basses (echoes of 1935 when only three tenors could be found in Titipu)! This time the problem was partly resolved by including Nanki-Poo and Pish-Tush in more chorus numbers than usual.

An on-line review from SceneOne declared the production to be ‘not only seamlessly smooth but it is essentially well-intentioned and good-hearted. It is clearly fun for both cast and audience’ and this verdict was supported by the critique in the Echo which, having noted the ‘cleverly updated script’ continued: ‘Director Sarah Fulcher utilised a well-lit, good-looking set, with clear sound and colourful costumes (courtesy of Jan Sly, Penny Hawkesworth and Maureen Street). The top-class chorus, under the guidance of Musical Director Fiona Willsher, as well as the ever-reliable Martin Paterson’s orchestra, set the bar high for the leading players to emulate – which they did.’ The reviewer then gave an outline of the plot commenting briefly on the principals, something that SceneOne also did but with a little more panache, thus; Matthew Pike (Nanki Poo) ‘sustains a clear voice and appropriate naivety’, Caroline Taylor (Yum-Yum) ‘the stand out voice’, Roger Lamb (Ko-Ko) ‘versatile, engaging actor and a strong voice with a distinct resemblance to Gok Wan’, Jonathan Fulcher ‘a gorgeous singing voice somewhat reminiscent of a pre-war French crooner’, Paul Dawson-Plinke (Pish-Tush) ‘gives strong backing’, Katy Lewis (Pitti-Sing) and Sophie Barnard (Peep-Bo) ‘each goes far beyond a support role and makes a clearly delineated character of her own’, David Collis (the Mikado) ‘an awe-inspiring figure’ and Tina Adams (Katisha) ‘captures the mix of pitiful villainess perfectly’.

As usual The Mikado sold well, justifying the decision to move the ‘annual G&S show' to the winter slot. It recorded a healthy profit of £5551 and presented the new Joint Chairs with a very encouraging start to their first year in office.

Terry O'Farrell

Photo of Maids

Three Little Maids from School: Caroline Taylor (Yum-Yum), Katy Lewis (Pitti-Sing), Sophie Barnard (Peep-Bo)

Photo of Pooh-Bah

Sophie Barnard (Peep-Bo), Caroline Taylor (Yum-Yum), Jonathan Fulcher (Pooh-Bah), Katy Lewis (Pitti-Sing)

Photo of Dragon

Tina Adams (Katisha) with Sophie Lipscomb (Kenji the Komodo Dragon)

Photo of Bells

Kneeling: Katy Lewis (Pitti-Sing), Caroline Taylor (Yum-Yum), Matthew Pike (Nanki-Poo), Paul Dawson-Plincke (Pish Tush). Ringing Bells: Suzie Pavitt, Mark Allen, Anne Waggott, Hilary Green, Nichola Paterson, Tony Jardine                                                               

Photo of Ko-Ko

Matthew Pike (Nanki-Poo), Caroline Taylor (Yum-Yum) and Roger Lamb (Ko-Ko)

Photo of Mikado

David Collis (The Mikado of Japan) trampling on Tim Syed

Photo of Katisha

Tina Adams (Katisha) with Roger Lamb (Ko-Ko)