The Mikado

Date 8th April 2022
Society Opera South East
Venue White Rock Theatre Hastings
Type of Production G&S
Director Denis Delahunt
Musical Director Kenneth Roberts


Author: Anne Lawson

What a delight after such a long period of forced theatre darkness being back at The White Rock Theatre listening to the uplifting overture to The Mikado and the see OSE’s version of this satire and the farcical happenings in Titipu.

The simple single scene unfolds showing flats on one side as a Sushi Bar, small tables, and chairs outside, with beaded entrance separated by a flowering bush and angled to the other Titipu’s Town Hall signed telling residents flirting is punishable by death with downstage angled bench, blossoming bushes dressed to the side. With DNA’s traceable to practically anywhere in the world,  the story takes place somewhere in Japan probably in fairly recent times with a mix of modern  and addition of Japanese traditional wardrobe. Certainly colourful – schoolgirls with long socks, white blouses and using bright red hair ribbons and trims with Yum-Yum, Pitti-Sing and Peep-Bo in gymslips and traditional wedding kimonos. The wedding scene kimonos with vibrant sashes, men’s flowing jackets, and spectacular full kimono with hair dressed for Katisha most elegant. An unusual take on The Mikado himself for his visit to the seaside in Hawaiian shirt, long shorts, trainers and a back-to-front baseball cap with a McDonalds ‘M’ plus bucket and spade -  wonderful and matched bass, David Wolozko’s comic approach, enjoying both his sand dance and his ‘Mi-ya Sa-Ma,’ ‘A More Humane Mikado’ and ‘See how the Fates’. Wardrobe was arranged by Miranda Taylor assisted by Leslie Moore with properties supervised by Malcolm Atfield and Margaret Smart.

An interesting opening from the men of Titipu in their black trousers, white t-shirts performing morning PT exercises., and how nice to see some new young faces enjoying the experience of ‘If your want to know who we are.’ Having fled from court to prevent a marriage to a lady of a certain age, Katisha, disguised  as a wandering minstrel, Nanki Poo, son of the Mikado has met Yum-Yum one of three sisters and wards of Ko-Ko and fallen in love with her. She, however, is betrothed to her guardian Ko-Ko. However, he had been condemned to death for flirting! Nanki-Poo learns from Pooh-Bah a corrupt public official and nobleman Pish-Tush that Ko-Ko has become Long High Executioner which prevents decapitation and that he will in fact marry Yum-Yum that same day. To prevent losing his position he must find someone to execute, and Nanki-Poo bent on suicide as Yum-Yum is  not available conjures a plan! As in G & S opera the complex story unfurls with many extraordinary escapades and of course a solution is found. Nanki-Poo and Yum-Yum are married so Katisha cannot have him and Ko-ko solves the problems by offering his hand to Katisha and after his rendition of ‘Willow, tit-willow’ she accepts. With licence to alter lyrics some wonderful up to date most amusing lines were delivered.

Present student at the University of Chichester Conservatoire tenor Kristian Thorkildsen gave a splendid performance in both script and lyric including ‘A Wandering Minstrel I’ ‘The Flowers that Bloom in the Spring’ and as part of the madrigal with the sisters and Pooh-Bah. ’The Three Little Maids’ trio from Louisa Alice-Rose talented versatile Soprano was strongly supported throughout by Ruth Parsons and May Godlonton-White both a credit.

Ko-ko Lord High Executioner was multi-talented Oscar Smith playing this part with aplomb – simply dressed with waistcoat master with his hat and a spring in his step. Most amusing current ‘I’ve Got It On The List.’ Polished performance. A very enjoyable trio ‘I am so Proud’ came from Will O’Brian, Baritone attired in black, top hat and a rather large sparkling medallion hanging around his neck  together with Ko-Ko and a very fine nobleman in bowler hat, allrounder Richard Moore.

Lesley Moore, Soprano took on the role of Katisha and certainly showed us her wrath and particularly liked her duet ‘There is  Beauty together with solo ‘Alone yet Alive.’ Singing and dialogue from the main characters in OSE tradition was first class and accompanied by the large Sussex Concert Orchestra under the expert baton of Ken Roberts. With strong ensemble work the interpretation of the music and story was a credit to both Artistic Director Denis Delahunt who also created the lighting design and to MD Ken Roberts.