The first time I ever saw Gilbert and Sullivan's Mikado, I was a fresher at grammar school. Up until then, my only experience of anything vaguely operatic was the annual TV showing of The Sound of Music and The Wizard of Oz. Hey, we're talking a long time ago, before TVs had colour.
The very grown-up sixth-formers who inhabited a mysterious smoke-filled room in the bowels of the school were normally never to be seen and far too cool to even cast a glance at the little first-formers. But they emerged fully-costumed for the school production of The Mikado.
I was mesmerised. These fantastic people with brains the size of a planet were up there on the stage, normally only used for the daily assembly, where the only singing was a rather feeble version of Now Thank We All Our God. It was fantastic. Real singing. A proper, if truncated, orchestra and progammes, there were printed programmes frm the school's trusty Gestetner. Oh, it was heaven and I wanted to see it ever day.
I've seen many musicals since then, but never a professional production of The Mikado, so when the Carl Rosa Company came to the Sheffield Lyceum with its West End version, I just had to go.
All I can say it, this was fantastic. Music, costumes, singing, acting, hamming, leg room in the stalls, clean toilets, everything. The Big Name was the last of the silly Dr Whos, Silvester McCoy. Silvester took over the Tardis from 1986 to 1989 before the series almost sank without trace – not his fault, it was lacking decent scripts.. Anyway, I digress. Silvester has a great acting pedigree (he's just been The Fool to Sir Ian McKellan's Lear), but I'm not sure he was made for singing, though his animated eyebrows played a pretty tune.
My award for best performer goes to Fenton Gray as Ko Ko, the Lord High Executioner. He gets pretty much all the best lines, and his 'little list' of people for execution was updated to include people who text or whose mobiles ring during performances. Execution's too good for 'em, that's what I say…..
Today's lovely thing
Watching an old movie together (Shane)