Words by W. S. Gilbert and Music by Arthur Sullivan
Watts Hall,
April 1928
Cast List
The Mikado of Japan
Yum-Yum (a)
Yum-Yum (b)
Pitti-Sing (a)
Pitti-Sing (b)
Peep-Bo (a)
Peep-Bo (b)
Katisha (a)
Katisha (b)

Notes on this performance

5. The Mikado 

More Gilbert & Sullivan…

After the success of The Gondoliers, it will come as no surprise that the Society then attempted a production of The Mikado since, even in 1928, it was the most popular of the G&S operettas and was a guaranteed seller at the box office.  For the first time, the group indulged in double casting certain parts (just the ladies’ roles, though), it was possibly an attempt to keep everyone happy and also not to let some members monopolise the lime-light to the detriment of others – the Society was certainly not short of women members and they did only perform one show a year… 

Nobody thought to save the Echo review for this show, but the archives do hold a critique by Sterling MacKinlay, which appeared in The Amateur Stage. Sterling actually refers to the group as Southampton Operatic Society and starts off in a complimentary fashion, ‘Could one meet with a more complete exposition of Amateur enthusiasm? It may be doubted, for the word Amateur could be applied not merely to the actors and the entire orchestra, to the producer, Miss Edith Ashdown, the Conductor, Mr C. J. Andrews, the scene painter (whose efforts were anonymous) and the electrician, Mr J. B. B. Howatt, but to those who had constructed the stage and filled up the proscenium. On the instrumental side special congratulations must be tendered to the violins whose musicianly rendering was a joy to hear, while the sympathetic piano playing of Mrs. Julius Caesar was above suspicion.’

However, he was more critical then the usual Echo fare and perhaps it gives us a better idea of the group’s standard than other reports. He continued, ‘The outstanding feature of the performance was the clearness of the words throughout the dialogue and the vocal numbers. The tone of the chorus was particularly good, when the ladies were heard alone, and again during the passages for male voices only. The members of the chorus were less satisfactory in the stage side of their work. Their movements seemed to be rather mechanical, facial expression was not a strong point, and the incessant fanning distracted one’s attention from the matter in hand. 

As the Mikado and Pooh-Bah, Philip E. Graham and Herbert W. Adcock were excellent, while George Mew proved an excellent Ko-Ko, when he did not over elaborate his part and indulge in business more suitable to pantomime. As Nanki-Poo, Sydney W. Egerton was variable, often he sang delightfully, but there were times when he wandered up the mountain side in his intonation. Eva Thorne, an impressive Katisha with a fine voice, spoke her lines well and sang effectively, but should keep her voice steadier. The Yum-Yum of Peggy Eric-Parish had much charm, but there were signs of tremelo, and her pitch was not always like Caesar’s wife.’ He obviously couldn’t resist the temptation of commenting on Mrs Julius Caesar’s name but missed Mr Julius Caesar’s appearance on stage as an Attendant.

The amount given to charities due to The Mikado and a reprise of The Fool, now stood at £940 7s 10d, giving a profit of £213 17s 1d (£213.85) for both productions.

Terry O'Farrell

Photo of Nanki and Ko-Ko

                   Publicity photos of Sydney Egerton (Nanki Pooh) and George Mew (Ko-Ko)

Photo of Yum-Yums

Two Yum-Yums - a result of double casting: Peggy Eric-Parish and Kathleen Long