The Mikado or The Town of Titpu

Date 5th May 2017
Society Eastbourne G & S Society
Venue Devonshire Park Eastbourne
Type of Production G & S Opera
Director Trevor Allen
Musical Director Pat White

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Author: Anne Lawson

When disguised as a minstrel, son of Mikado Nanki-Poo flees his father’s court to escape the intention of marriage by the determined older Katisha. He has fallen headfirst for Yum-Yum, young ward of Ko-Ko now promoted from tailor to Lord High Executioner - his sentencing for flirting reprieved. It’s his intention to marry Yum-Yum. NP thinking she is free to marry him, his hopes are dashed. Despairing NP decides to take his life and Ko-Ko needs a ‘volunteer’ to be executed – he has the answer but NP insists he immediately marries Yum-Yum even though it be for only one month. A furious arrival of the dastardly Katisha. YY now discovers that on the execution of her husband she must be buried alive. Oh horror! What to do! Ko-Ko believes with the arrival of the great Mikado he’ll want proof of the execution and with a little easy bribery Lord High Everything signs the required papers.  However, the Mikado is here for another reason namely to find his Son. More confusion. NP has to be brought to life again.  KK makes the ultimate sacrifice, woos Katisha who pleads for clemency! All are saved, NP marries Yum-Yum, The Mikado is a happy man, and poor old KK gets Katisha. Of course, this is an over simplification of events, and certainly no time for soliloquising, after all this is a G & S opera!

Friends at Matthew 25 Mission and The Eastbourne Shed constructed the beautiful Japanese set together with stage furniture – butterfly stools - of a most professional standard and with well-designed lighting creating colourful effects.  The central ornate Torri gate stood prominent with steps, and angled shoji panels set the scene beautifully.

An authentic Japanese colourful front cover the programme was well presented by Michael Bale in A5 style. Ladies attired in lively coloured kimonos, supplied by the Wakefield G & S Society showing off the obi sashes complete with correct white tights and black pumps to tip toe into positions and together with the most gorgeous fans from the Savoy Opera Fan Company made for a good picture.  The company were certainly well rehearsed in fan operation. Good attention to the detail from Wardrobe Mistress Helen, black bob wigs splendid. Rowan Stanfield looked most attractive throughout, as did her sisters.  Katisha’s gowns were outstanding as was her wig and makeup giving Marian Pierce the perfect appearance for this challenging role. Gentlemen too wore traditional robes looking splendid -  interesting ‘winged’ headdresses. Detail to the makeup was especially impressive and Stewart Patient as the Mikado himself looked quite amazing. His stature extended by those enormous platforms, which he managed with aplomb, sumptuous high collar with extended shoulder wings quite spectacular. Light on his feet Nanki-Poo, tenor Andrew J Daniels, appeared in a simple brown outfit and pumps disguised as the wandering minstrel with his well-made shamisen on his back, a good character wig, and looking quite regal in his wedding finery. Athletic Ko-Ko Lord High Executioner, the most entertaining Paul Eccles, was cheekily made up, black and white outfit with cap – particularly liking the knickerbocker pant length, white socks and pumps and his little list – not so little written in Japanese script. Nigel Lawton as Pooh-Bah Lord High of Everything performed with splendid pomposity.

Pat White led her talented orchestra, who produced a wonderful sound never overshadowing the performers who were strong and articulate.  Some excellent renditions of well-known pieces particularly Paul’s Ko-Ko’s up-to-moment news in his ‘little list’, and ‘tit willow’. A pleasing ‘wandering minstrel’ rendered well by Andrew, with a commendable Yum-Yum solo from Rowan Stanfield solo plus ‘three little maids’ trio with Margot Miller as Pitti-Sing and Gayle Pitts as Peep-Bo, whilst Marian Pierce gave Katisha a bold entrance.   With strong harmony in trios, quartets and ensemble work the singing was a treat. Trevor together with his hard-working cast and behind the scenes team succeeded in forming attractive pictures, lively music, well timed humour, emotion and joy with good lighting, sound and effects.