Words by W.S. Gilbert and Music by Arthur Sullivan
Bad Ischl, Austria,
May 1983
Director: Pam Hoskins
Cast List
Der Mikado

Notes on this performance

59b. Der Mikado

Danke Austria…

The adventure began when Sheila Howard received a phone call from a member of the City of Southampton Orchestra (who had just performed in Austria) intimating that there was a possibility of the Society being invited to perform The Mikado in Bad Ischl. Members were canvassed for their interest and availability and soon a monthly savings scheme was created – the cost of flying was prohibitive so coach and a ferry crossing was the favoured solution.

Eventually, 120 members of the Society and orchestra were seen off by the Mayor from the Guildhall Square in three coaches (one mainly containing the set and instruments) to spend eight days in Austria. On arrival they discovered that G&S was not well known amongst the locals and very few tickets had been sold so the group embarked on a parade around the town in full costume. Ten of the orchestra accompanied them in (and from) a farm cart drawn by two horses and the populace were treated to choruses from the show whenever the police stopped the traffic. The ploy did attract interest and the performances were both nearly sold out.

The Bad Ischl Newspaper included a report on the second performance which translates as: ‘The performance, in true British way, started off in an understated style, but developed wit and sparkle during the course of the evening. The first impression of stiffness gave way to artistic interpretation. With only a basic knowledge of English, it was possible to follow the dialogue and have a lot of enjoyment because the leading actors not only possessed natural talent and enthusiasm but had obviously had a thorough training which gave a special charm to individual scenes. The colourful costumes made up for the rather inadequate scenery.

Playing their parts with verve and enjoyment were the attractive Claire Rutter (Yum-Yum) and the tall young actor Andrew May (Nanki-Poo). This young couple possess pleasing voices which meant that the catchy, well-loved songs had full justice done to them. We were treated to a larger-than-life-size Lord High Executioner, who rolled his eyes, who frisked and writhed, who swore mightily, in short it was a superb performance from Philip de Grouchy, who deserves our thanks for the snatches of German he inserted into his performance. Colin Sly gave us a Mikado in all his pomp. His emperor of Japan conveyed a sense of real dread which made the flesh creep and not only when he raised his voice – every time he snapped open his enormous fan with one, single lordly gesture, everybody jumped! Other outstanding characters in this tuneful extravaganza were Dennis Gooch as Pooh-Bah and the great (in every sense of the word) courtier Pish-Tush, played by Nicholas Short. Yum-Yum’s two graceful sisters, Pitti-Sing and Peep-Bo (Jillian Charnley and Daphne Shaw), fluttered through the scenery like butterflies and really brought their part to life. And finally, the part of Katisha was played by Catherine Baker with true feminine wiles.’

The financial arrangements of the trip meant that SOS kept any profits on the two shows and these amounted to £184.

Terry O'Farrell

 Photo of Trial Scene

Dennis Gooch (Pooh-Bah), Jillian Charnley (Pitti-Sing), Philip de Grouchy (Ko-Ko), Colin Sly (The Mikado), Catherine Baker (Katisha)