Words by W. S. Gilbert and Music by Arthur Sullivan
The Avenue Hall,
April 1935
Cast List
The Mikado of Japan
Pooh-Bah (a)
Pooh-Bah (b)
Ko-Ko's Assistant
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

12. The Mikado

A jubilee year…

Following the ‘most successful year since its formation’, the Committee was eager to build upon the progress made so far. However, Lady Swaythling then resigned as the Society’s President and was replaced by the Mayor of Southampton - the holder of that position has been the SOS President ever since. Mr R Hughes was also elected as Chairman, a post that he would hold for a remarkable 35 years!

Two shows were presented as possibilities to the membership at the AGM, The Mikado (in its jubilee year and favoured by the Committee) and HMS Pinafore with Trial by Jury. A show of hands resulted in a dead heat, so a secret ballot was held which saw Pinafore/Trial victorious by 27 to 19. Unfortunately, the Committee had a very tenuous grasp of democracy and soon overturned the verdict of the membership and opted for The Mikado, claiming that the stage of the Avenue Hall was too small (9ft x 17ft) to cope with Trial by Jury. Arrangements were made for six performances at their new home – the Stage Manager, Mr W Archer, pointed out that the windows would ‘need to be blacked out as summer time would be in operation.’ It was noted that not many children took the opportunity of watching the two Dress Rehearsals.

The Casting Committee was criticised by some unsuccessful members and letters of complaint were received from Miss Long, Mrs Kennedy and Mr and Mrs Parish, all of whom refused the parts assigned to them (as did Mr Wareham with his understudy role) claiming that they had been unfairly treated.  Further resignations left the tenor section of the chorus reduced to three – new members were needed.

Although there was some muttering from the members, the Committee persevered with the practice of double-casting – all the women’s roles and that of Pooh-Bah were shared. The Echo reviewer watched both casts in action and yet again preferred the efforts of the second (this featured Alfred Tomalin as Pooh-Bah, Eva Thorne as Katisha and Cicely Siggers as Yum-Yum); he wrote, ‘Let me say at once, the roles of individuals apart, that the whole show had recovered from the lack of spirit which was observable during the early parts of Monday’s performance. Everything went splendidly from the start to the last finale.’ He was also much taken by Philip E Graham’s interpretation of the title role, ‘It was one of the best presentations of this character that I have seen on the amateur stage, and it must be particularly gratifying to the Society that Mr. Graham himself is an old member who has only recently been in a position to rejoin the ranks. Mr. Graham not only played and sang remarkably well, but even seemed to bring with him some quality of inspiration which acted as a general tonic.’

Even though fans cost 5/6d (28p) for a dozen, the accounts for The Mikado showed a profit of £44 9s 2d (£44.46) and, as fund raising had been good over the year, this was again rounded up to £50 and given to charity - £35 was donated to the Southampton Federation of Boys’ Clubs and £15 to the Jubilee Nursing Institute.

Terry O'Farrell

Photo of Principals

               Clifford Dunkley (Pish-Tush)                                             George W Mitchell (Ko-Ko), Marjorie Kennedy (Katisha)                        

 LB books dog

Hopefully coming to you in early 2021!