Words by W. S. Gilbert and Music by Arthur Sullivan
Mayflower Theatre,
February 1989
Director: Anne Starbuck
Cast List
The Mikado
Ko-Ko's Attendant
The Mikado's Daughter

Notes on this performance

71. The Mikado

Old reliable…

There was a scare when the manager of the Mayflower informed the Society that the New Sadlers Wells Company was planning to perform The Mikado at the theatre but, when that visit did not materialise, there was only one real option available for a minimal risk show and the Committee seized the opportunity. 

Both Anne Starbuck and Graham Buchanan were keen to produce The Mikado and the Committee’s vote was split evenly between them, leaving the Chairman to make a casting vote in Anne’s favour. Finding an MD was not so easy though, Philip Johnson and David Frost had already declined the offer and Paul Spanton, Valerie Nunns and Cliff Palmer followed suit before Pamela Bennett agreed to fill the vacancy. Ray Olden was Stage Manager and, whilst he was delighted with the number of volunteers to paint the set, he was less than happy that only Phil Dennis turned up at Nursling on the Sunday morning to help unload the van and carry the flats into the store.

The newly formed Junior Section immediately began to fulfil the hopes of the Society as two members, Lucy Braga and Nyle Wolfe, successfully auditioned to join the ‘Seniors’ and, furthermore, eight junior members were included in the company as coolies, children of Titipu and Ko-Ko’s assistant (Dominic O’Farrell). The auditions nearly produced a full cast but a suitable Nanki-Poo was not found. An ex-member, Philip Ferris, was approached to audition for the part (which he did successfully) – a move that did not have the approval of all the members. 

Anne made great efforts to ensure her production was as accurate as possible and even contacted the Japanese Embassy in London requesting details of the Japanese Tea Ceremony (there was no internet to ‘google’ in 1989) and they responded by sending her a video of the tradition. A group of four then copied the required moves to perform and help set the atmosphere during the overture. When the curtains opened, the audience was greeted by the sight of a very busy market place in Titipu lying in the shadows of a menacing volcano. There were 41 in the chorus and nine ‘extras’ so, with the addition of two Japanese-style carts, even the large stage was full.

The Echo reviewer was obviously impressed by the spectacle: ‘Startling reds, oranges and yellows, stunningly pretty sets and costumes with a traditional Japanese feel have been chosen as the backing to the rich score. I loved the new words to the List Song which poked fun at health fanatics, politicians and paperboys. The three schoolgirls, Cerys Williams (Yum-Yum), Jenny Foster (Peep-Bo) and Margaret Amey (Pitti-Sing) were debs of delight. David Jupp played the snobby Pooh-Bah, Peter Robson as Ko-Ko and Pamela de Grouchy (Katisha) were good in the comic scenes and Paul Shakespeare brought menace to the stage as the black-clad Mikado. Impressive singing came from the other leads and chorus in this capital production.’

As usual, The Mikado did not disappoint financially making an overall profit of £3817 but after VAT was subtracted, the balance book only showed £2513.

Terry O'Farrell

 Photo of Pish-Tush

Philip Ferris (Nanki-Poo), Colin Sly (Pish-Tush), David Jupp (Pooh-Bah)

Photo of Maids

David Jupp (Pooh-Bah), Margaret Amey (Pitti-Sing), Cerys Williams (Yum-Yum), Jenny Foster (Peep-Bo), Peter Robson (Ko-Ko)

Photo of Trio

Peter Robson (Ko-Ko), Philip Ferris (Nanki-Poo), Cerys Williams (Yum-Yum)

Photo of Quintet

David Jupp (Pooh-Bah), Margaret Amey (Pitti-Sing), Peter Robson (Ko-Ko), Paul Shakespeare (The Mikado), Pam de Grouchy (Katisha)

Photo of Katisha

Pam de Grouchy (Katisha) with Peter Robson (Ko-Ko)

 LB books dog

Hopefully coming to you in early 2021!