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William S. Gilbert (operetta)
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A staging of "The Mikado" set in an English country hotel during the 1920s. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
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Its in Japanese See more (8 total) »


  (in credits order)

Eric Idle ... Ko-Ko
Lesley Garrett ... Yum-Yum
Bonaventura Bottone ... Nanki-Poo
Richard Van Allan ... Pooh-Bah
Felicity Palmer ... Katisha
Richard Angas ... The Mikado of Japan
Susan Bullock ... Peep-Bo
Ethna Robinson ... Pitti-Sing
Mark Richardson ... Pish-Tush
Findlay Wilson ... Katisha's Unrequited Lover
rest of cast listed alphabetically:

Kevan Allen ... Ensemble
Bret Macey ... Chorus
Marian Martin ... Chorister (uncredited)

Directed by
John Michael Phillips 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
William S. Gilbert  operetta

Produced by
John Michael Phillips .... producer
Other crew
Jonathan Miller .... stage director

Production CompaniesDistributors

Additional Details

Also Known As:
Aspect Ratio:
1.33 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:

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Movie Connections:
Version of The Mikado (1926)See more »


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2 out of 6 people found the following review useful.
Its in Japanese, 5 October 2010
Author: Gyran from Birmingham, England

This is the story of a faraway almost-forgotten land. No, not feudal Japan but Britain in1987 when a commercial television company was able to broadcast opera to peak-viewing audiences. Unfortunately, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher put a stop to all that and, in 1992, Thames received its own short, sharp shock when it lost its franchise.

When I was 12 years old I was a fairy in Iolanthe. Since then my interest in opera has tended towards the more serious end of the spectrum and I have never seen a Gilbert and Sullivan opera live. My knowledge of The Mikado is limited to the excellent, but truncated, 1939 Hollywood version and the execrable 1996 Australian version which is still, sadly, doing the rounds.

We have to be grateful for Sky Arts rediscovery of this English National Opera production, directed by Jonathan Miller, a recording that I did not even know existed. Miller updates the production to the 1920s and there is nothing at all Japanese about the sets or costumes. This may offend a few purists but I found it delightful. It stars Eric Idle as Ko-Ko, bringing his own Little List to the production. His comic timing is wonderful. I particularly enjoyed his licking the Mikado's boot and his exclamation when he has to read the Mikado's decree: "It's in Japanese!" His delivery of Gilbert's dialogue is strangely reminiscent of Monty Python.

Lesley Garrett is Yum-Yum, making clear her star quality at a very early stage in her career. There is a hilarious Pish-Tush from Mark Richardson with an outrageous Yorkshire accent and an even more outrageous orange toupee. Richard Van Allen is a droll Pooh-Bah. Bonaventura Bottone is slightly disappointing as a rather fruity Nanki-Poo. Richard Angas plays the Mikado as a jovial giant turtle in a huge fat suit with his scrawny neck sticking out of an outsize collar. His dancing is a delight, as is the Busby Berkeley style dancing of the ensemble of bellboys, schoolgirls with lacrosse sticks and maids with feather dusters. Finally, I must mention Felicity Palmer's delicious performance as the scheming Katisha, despite being much too attractive to be completely convincing in the role.

The sound quality is not brilliant. It sounds as though you are listening to a performance in your local scout hall. Visually the production is a bit fuzzy but probably state of the art for 1987 with on-stage hand-held cameras and some vignetting which other reviewers have found irritating. This is a triumph for Jonathan Miller but, if he was watching this broadcast last week, I'm sure he would have cringed at the sight of the Gentelemen from Japan making slitty-eyed gestures and karate-chop motions.

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