Words by W. S. Gilbert and Music by Arthur Sullivan
The Guildhall,
March 1966
Cast List
The Mikado of Japan
Ko-Ko's Assistant

Notes on this performance

39. The Mikado

Mr Skinner escapes…

No one can doubt that W O Skinner was an excellent Business Manager, he had served the Society splendidly since 1946 but had been seriously overworked. He tried to resign in 1959 and, although he was granted an assistant and some of his duties were shared amongst others, it took another seven years before he was forced to leave due to his ‘physical incapacity’. He was made a Life Member for his sterling service.

Some new members were beginning to make their mark: Dougie Huggins complained about the choice of The Mikado for the next show and again suggested The Sorcerer should be considered for the following year, whilst Bob Gibson was highly critical of the stage lighting at the Guildhall and asked that steps were taken to improve it. 

Thirteen new members were taken in and the principal auditions nearly produced a full cast (they were still seeking a suitable Pish-Tush). Newcomer Dennis Gooch was even awarded the part of the Mikado without serving the obligatory year in the chorus. Some promising performers had been accepted but it was felt that more would join if there were a better chance of gaining a main part. It was decided that a smaller second production each year at the Nuffield Theatre with new principals might help. 

There were the first signs of ‘up-dating’ by the Society in The Mikado! The Echo review began, ‘With references to a televisionist and Timbertop (Prince Charles’ school in Australia) and a momentary caricature of a pipe-smoking politician (Harold Wilson), SAOS have given some up-to-date touches to that 81 year old evergreen, The Mikado.’ Later the reporter mentioned that there was evidence of a great team spirit in the company and added, ‘Later I discovered that among the cast of 44 there are six married couples and five of those romances blossomed in the society. Keenness is there too, one young housewife managed to take time out to have a baby and return.’

Once again Tom Judd caught the eye, ‘The undoubted master of clear delivery was Tom Judd, as Ko-Ko. A cavorting, lovable tailor-turned-Lord High Executioner, he didn’t miss a trick.’ Other principals also impressed, ‘Bernard Harman, as Pooh-Bah, was a particularly haughty and excusive person and never forgot it for a moment. John Hoskins, a fine tenor, was Nanki-Poo, and soprano Jill Meager was Yum-Yum his sweetheart. Newcomer Dennis Gooch, as the Mikado, showed that the society has another rich voice to call upon. Ralph Denby, as Pish-Tush, did well after three or four years in the chorus. Marjorie Kennedy as the elderly Katisha, Pamela Hoskins and Margaret Lawrence as Pitti-Sing and Peep-Bo gave good support.’

As usual, The Mikado sold well and made a profit of £296 18s 9d (£296.94) which was actually less than anticipated. However, the Society still donated 280 guineas (£294) to various charities - the British Empire Cancer Campaign received 100 guineas and the Mayor’s Appeal, Muscular Dystrophy Research, the NSPCC, the Southampton Samaritans’ Fund for Old People, the Southampton Children’s Fund and the Mentally Handicapped (Cold East) each gained 30 guineas.

Terry O'Farrell

Photo of Trio

Ralph Denby (Pish-Tush), Tom Judd (Ko-Ko), Bernard Harman (Pooh-Bah)