THE MIKADO

April 17th in the Willunga Festival Hall

This was the second time we have used the Festival Hall (also known as the Rec Hall, Basketball Stadium and Willunga Recreation Centre and something will have to be done about this) and it was another resounding success. Approximately 200 patrons and STARS supporters attended and we proved that we have all the facilities we need in Willunga, for putting on large scale events.

Co-Opera once again produced a highly entertaining show, and a big production it was, with thirteen in the cast, ten in the orchestra, five or six techies and a big set to rig.

The Mikado, one of the later works of Gilbert and Sullivan, is of course completely silly. By today's standards it is sexist and racist and the plot makes little sense. It was first presented in 1855, when Gilbert the writer and librettist saw it as a satire on the way that current English society was obsessed with all things oriental. The main theme is also very macabre; Koko the Lord High Executioner is faced with the prospect of beheading himself or finding a willing substitute in order to appease The Mikado, ruler of All Japan. The Mikado's son Nanki-Poo (the name being another ridiculous invention of Gilbert's) agrees to step in because he is very sad, though then he is able to marry his beloved Yum-Yum which means that he is sad no longer. And so it goes. silly indeed.

Sidonie Henbest, playing Katisha and supposedly an ugly harridan, was superb, as was Rod Schultz, playing Koko with a heavy cockney accent. It was no surprise to read that he had also played Fagin in Oliver.

To be honest I thought the male chorus at the beginning was a little flat - they looked as if they were phoning their performances in - but the second act, which was much sillier than the first, took off like an Apollo rocket, and roared to a huge finale. We learned that the company had been on tour in the eastern states for a month, and that can tire anyone.

Musically it was a superb evening, the orchestra and singers combining beautifully, well worn in I should think, by the recent tour.

Once again, after the cast had changed out of their costumes they got on with the job, with the techies' guidance, of pulling the set down and packing it into the pantechnican, ready for the next show down the road somewhere. This to my mind is a wonderful tradition.

Many thanks to Brian Chatterton, father of the company and musical director, and his theatre director Richard Trevaskis.

Wayne Anthoney.