Words by W. S. Gilbert and Music by Arthur Sullivan
The Guildhall,
March 1972
Cast List
The Mikado of Japan
Ko-Ko's Assistant

Notes on this performance

45. The Mikado                                                                                                                                                                   

Yum-Yum is delicious…

As headlines go ‘Yum-Yum is Delicious’ is quite eye-catching and the reporter thought that the rest of SAOS’s 1971 show was quite tasty too, but a lot had to happen in the background before this could happen. First, the opera had to be chosen and, as ‘a financial success was of paramount importance,’ it had to be The Mikado.

Secondly, the Society had finished the previous season without a Chairman so one had to be found. He or she did not necessarily have to come from within its ranks though and Dr Horace King (who had retired as Speaker in the House of Commons) was unsuccessfully approached. Instead Dr Murray Bigby was elected and later become the first Chairman to provide a ‘Welcome Message’ for the programme.

Harold Dunford continued as Producer as did Valerie Mansell as MD (though she was now Mrs Valerie Nunns) but, after 39 years, Alfred Tomalin resigned as Secretary opting instead to act as assistant to his successor, Barbara Wotton. The Committee reverted to the previous system of notifying candidates of the results of the principal auditions by post, but for the first time in 25 years Tom Judd’s name was not on the list. He had also decided to retire and both his and Alfred Tomalin’s efforts were recognised by awarding them both life membership and a presentation.

A third problem nearly led to the cancellation of the show as it was the year of the miners’ strikes and the three-day week. In order to preserve fuel, the electricity to areas in the City was often cut off for periods of three hours, usually this was announced beforehand but that could not be guaranteed. The group regularly changed the rehearsal venue to a presumed ‘safe place’, but an unscheduled power cut at the University meant that one session carried on thanks to oil lamps. Bob Gibson made arrangements in case a sudden cut happened at the Guildhall where it was planned to use Calor Gas floodlights for the stage and battery powered lanterns elsewhere. Fortunately, the industrial problems were resolved with two weeks to spare.

The Echo review approved of the traditional production and singled out several performers for special mention, ‘All of the principals are of high quality; John Hoskins’ pleasant tenor, good stage presence and ready smile brings the wandering minstrel Nanki-Poo to life. Jillian Charnley, with excellent voice, is a delicious Yum-Yum. Peter Robson, as Ko-Ko, is given full scope. Pooh-Bah, is a difficult part to play but Dennis Gooch has obviously given deep thought to the characterisation. Nicholas Short (Pish-Tush) acts neatly and sings with nicely focussed tone. In the named part, Bert Clague looks and moves like the Emperor that he is; but his smiling eyes could never allow him to be wholly tyrannical. Katisha is superbly played by Pamela Hoskins. Predatory but pathetic, aged yet feline, all facets are masterfully portrayed.’ The chorus came in for praise as it was ‘well drilled and grows in unanimity as the evening progresses. It was musically well balanced with a strong soprano section.’

The Mikado made a profit of £353.65 and the temptation to give some of this to charity was resisted due to the next show being the unpredictable Ruddigore.

Terry O'Farrell

The only two photos of this production in the archives...

Photo of Cast


mik72 2

Dennis Gooch (Pooh-Bah), Nicholas Short (Pish-Tush), John Hoskins (Nanki-Poo), Jillian Charnley (Yum-Yum), Pam Hoskins (Katisha)

 LB books dog

Coming to you in January 2022!