Nanki-Poo, the son of the Mikado, leaves home and disguises himself as a musician to escape a distasteful marriage - and meets a beautiful girl, Yum-Yum, with whom he falls in love. He ... See full summary »

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(libretto) (as William S. Gilbert)
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Graeme Ewer ...
Gregory Yurisich ...
Heather Begg ...
Anne Maree McDonald ...
...
Robert Eddie ...
Jennifer Bermingham ...
Caroline Clack ...
John Germain ...
Robert Mitchell ...
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Storyline

Nanki-Poo, the son of the Mikado, leaves home and disguises himself as a musician to escape a distasteful marriage - and meets a beautiful girl, Yum-Yum, with whom he falls in love. He desperately wants to marry her, but obstacles are cast in his way by Yum-Yum's guardian, Ko-Ko, the Lord High Executioner, who is also in love with Yum-Yum and has every intention of marrying her, himself. Also causing problems is Katisha, Nanki-Poo's jilted bride, who arrives in Titipu in the company of Nanki-Poo's father, the Mikado. Written by David McAnally <D.McAnally@uq.net.au>

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Musical | Comedy

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1987 (Australia)  »

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Opera Australia: The Mikado  »

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Version of El Mikado (1987) See more »

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Mixed feelings
12 October 2011 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

I love Gilbert and Sullivan, but I don't consider myself a purist really and bash anything that moves away from its original source. I always try to judge something by their own merits, and I will aim to do so now.

The Mikado is not my favourite of G&S operettas, I am more a Pirates of Penzance and HMS Pinafore person myself, but I love the oriental setting, the characters(gotta love Nanki-Poo), the witty dialogue and the sparkling music.

Against all this I only had mixed feelings on this 1987 Mikado. Musically I had no problem whatsoever with it, the music is still as brilliant as ever, the singing and enunciation is good with Heather Begg and Gregory Yurisich coming off best and the orchestra and conducting are stylish.

Production-values-wise The Mikado is decent. Some mayn't like the mix of oriental and Victorian clothes all at once, I personally didn't mind it, while the set design is like a lovely Japanese fantasy land. The video directing is good and while grainy at times, at least on the video I saw, the picture quality was decent.

My main problems with this Mikado were the sound and staging. The sound is awful, very low in volume making some of the dialogue and the singing when the singers are at the back of the stage rather inaudible, Anne Marie MacDonald suffers from this the most. If I were to sum the staging in one word, it would be distracting. The more choreographic parts of the staging comes across as messy, while all the business with the performers popping out of jugs and cabinets, schoolgirls arriving on trains and the three sisters squabbling got too much after a while.

The dialogue is witty and delightful when done right. The sound however spoils it, and I found some of the singers especially Graeme Ewer's Ko-Ko overly-milking it in their acting. Also some of the best bits of dialogue are thrown away, and what remains just doesn't have the impact.

Performances were mixed, the singing was good in general, the acting ranged from effective to overdone. I'll start with who I was impressed with. There were two performances I loved. One was Heather Begg. Of the cast, she is one of the more experienced singers and a delight in everything she appears. Here is no exception, her Katisha is a very touching and nasty performance. The other is Gregory Yurisich, whose Pooh-Bah is appropriately sly.

Others were mostly good, but could've been even more. Anne Marie MacDonald is a beautiful and well-sung Yum Yum, and she is very charming. The sound however eluded her, when she is at the back of the stage I had to crane my ears to hear her properly. Also Robert Eddie has a limpid voice and is a majestic presence as the Mikado. The problem was I remembered Begg and I remembered Yurisich, after watching Eddie wasn't as memorable.

Then there are some I wasn't crazy about at all. The worst for me was Graeme Ewer, of all the Ko-Kos I've seen thus far, Ewer's is the only one that has fallen flat for me. I felt his whole performance relied too much on the mugging and over-milking and not enough heart and subtlety. If there were any moments of his performance I did like it was his rendition of the Titwillow song, this was touching. Usually I find Nanki-Poo likable and hilarious, as much as I did find Peter Cousen very handsome, the production did make Nanki-Poo too much of a smarmy brat for my tastes.

Overall, very mixed feelings on this Mikado. 5/10 Bethany Cox


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