Hastings & St. Leonards on-line community newspaper

Three little maids…take a selfie, it seems.

The Mikado comes to town

Opera returns to Hastings this weekend when Opera South East stage Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado at the White Rock Theatre. Though set in Japan, its satirical object is British society of the time. Nick Terdre sets the scene, photos from dress rehearsals by Mark Duncan.

On Friday and Saturday Opera South-East presents Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado, one of the most popular and humorous operas ever written. It satirises Victorian British society, customs and pretensions through a farcical Gilbertian plot brimming with wit and sharp observation, all under the disguise of the Japanese Imperial Court of long ago, says OSE.

”In this topsy-turvy world, flirting is punishable by death, and Ko-Ko, the hapless Lord High Executioner, has much on his mind, including trying to avoid his own decapitation!

The Mikado has something to say.

”A tale of love and deception, with many memorable songs and plenty of opportunity to poke fun at 21st century Britain and its leading establishment and political figures. Who can we be thinking of? Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose!”

It is customary with G&S to tweak the libretto to include a topical reference here and there.

Whatever Gilbert’s intentions, on the occasion of a state visit by a Japanese prince in 1907 the British government was sufficiently concerned that the opera could cause offence that they banned all performances. The prince, disappointed not to be able to see it, dispatched a Japanese journalist to catch a production up north – expecting “real insults” to his country, he reported back that he found only “bright music and much fun.” So says Wikipedia.

Bright music and much fun

And bright music and much fun is what the OSE plans to bring to the audience at its third attempt – productions in 2020 and 2021 were thwarted by Covid. By way of compensation the performers are by now very well practised!

Nanki-Poo gets close up and personal with Yum-Yum.

The Mikado will be performed by the OSE chorus accompanied as ever by the Sussex Concert Orchestra conducted by Kenneth Roberts – who has the remarkable record of having conducted all 51 of the company’s fully staged operatic productions in the 42 years since it was founded.

The principal roles will be performed by David Woloskzo as the Mikado, Kristian Torkildsen as his son Nanki-Poo, Oscar Smith as Ko-Ko, Louisa Alice-Rose as Ko-Ko’s ward Yum-Yum and Lesley Moore as Katisha, an elderly lady.

The production is directed by Denis Delahunt, who has an extensive CV as both singer and actor, and will give a free pre-show talk about the work at 6pm on Saturday, 9 April  which will be open to ticket holders from both nights.

OSE points out that tickets purchased for its thwarted productions in 2020 and 2021 will be valid for the current production. The company has previously performed The Mikado in 1987 and 2004, and in 2019 presented a “rollicking romp” through the G&S repertoire.


The Mikado, by Gilbert and Sullivan White Rock Theatre, 7.30pm, Friday 8 and Saturday 9 April. Tickets £21, £17 and £13. Available from the box office (tel 0343 310 0031) or online. A free ticket for an under 16-year-old is available with every adult ticket bought.



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Posted 12:11 Thursday, Apr 7, 2022 In: Music & Sound

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