Words by David H. Bell and Music by Rob Bowman
Nuffield Theatre,
June 2011
Cast List
The Mikado

Notes on this performance

116. Hot Mikado 

Time for hot Ko-Ko…

It is never easy to know when to put on a production of The Mikado, the Committee is always keen to have it on the future shows list because it consistently does well at the box office but, as it comes round so frequently, members tend not to be too enthusiastic about performing it yet again – with all that in mind, the lively Hot Mikado seemed to be a sensible compromise.

The show is Martin Paterson’s favourite so finding a willing MD was easy and, as it involves a lot of dancing, Marina Voak was an obvious choice as Director. However, the transformation of Sullivan’s music to blues, gospel and swing did not appeal to many acting members and several new members were actively recruited. Worryingly, an advertisement had only been on the website for a few hours before a letter from a regular follower was received accusing SOS of ‘betraying the memory of Sullivan!’

Rehearsals were great fun and the principal auditions allayed any fears that it might not be possible to cast the show – in particular, two new members (Maz Hill and Abigail Miller) stunned and thrilled the audience with their auditions for Katisha. Later on Margaret Fields of NODA wrote: ‘Katisha is often the weak spot in Hot Mikado, but certainly not in this production. Marlene was fabulous. The act 1 finale was brilliant, with excellent staging and singing from everyone and wonderful rapport between Pitti-Sing (Abi Miller) and Katisha.’  Matt Sturgeon also impressed her ‘Ko-Ko was delightful and Matt played the part to perfection. There was definitely a touch of the Harold Lloyds and he ended up as a very sympathetic character.’

After the auditions, the main problem became obvious; once the principals were removed, the men’s chorus was not as strong as one would wish and a few of the older members definitely did not qualify as ‘good movers’! Furthermore the men featured in the first five numbers and the necessary confidence to carry this off did not seem to be there. Martin even urged them to make some noise so he could then judge whether they were singing the right notes (or not) and actually help them…

The Echo reviewer seemed to agree with much of this, as she reported: ‘Katisha (Marlene Hill) commanded the stage with her severity and stunning, soulful voice. There was a nice stand-off between her and Pitti-Sing (Abigail Miller). But the real treat was in the second act, when paired with Ko-Ko (Matt Sturgeon), who held his character (and accent) throughout, providing endless comedy (in a good way!).

The Mikado (Mike Pavitt) was also good in his cameo role. Sadly the ensemble were not slick enough in their execution of the lyrics to provide the crisp sound or energy that would have lifted the production, but hopefully this was just first-night jitters.’

It did not help that the country had just entered a recession, nor that the weather was hotter than usual but Hot Mikado, despite some truly magical moments, was not very well supported and made an overall loss of £3495.

Terry O'Farrell

Photo of Three Little Maids

Three Little Maids from School - Vicky Wilson (Yum-Yum), Emily Billett (Peep-Bo) and Abigail Miller (Pitti-Sing)

Photo of Katisha

Abigail Miller (Pitti-Sing) and Marlene Hill (Katisha)

Photo of Yum-Yum

 Abigail Miller (Pitti-Sing), Vicky Wilson (Yum-Yum), Tony Lehrle-Fry (Pish-Tush)

Photo of Flowers that Bloom

Jason Sly (Nanki-Poo), Vicky Wilson (Yum-Yum), Matt Sturgeon (Ko-Ko)

Photo of the Mikado

Mike Pavitt as the Mikado of Japan

Photo of Tit Willow

Matt Sturgeon (Ko-Ko) attempts to woo Marlene Hill (Katisha)