1978 The Mikado

BWT Review


Witham Operatic Society

Are local playgoers getting somewhat saturated with Gilbert and Sullivan?
Within the space of a month our amateur operatic performers have been busily engaged on no fewer than three full-scale productions by those eminent Victorians. Should they ease off ere we get tired before they do? The answer as far as I am concerned is an emphatic "No!" always provided we get presentations so entertaining and so beautifully produced as last week's Mikado by Witham Operatic Society.

Prizewinning director Derek Collins, retaining all that is best from traditions built up over the years, injected plenty of vitality into the old story and the split-second timing of his ingenious fan routines was a bit of theatrical genius. His own contribution was notable. He defied gravity in both its senses with his funny, feather-footed Ko-Ko.

But it was by no means a one-man show for very distinguished performances came from Nicholas Clough as a pompous, sententious Pooh-Bah, who made sure we did not miss a syllable and from Peter Charters as a stately and mellow-voiced Mikado. Once again, Pat Harris with her soaring soprano gave us a lively picture of the delectable Yum-Yum and she was delightfully supported by the vivacious Pitti-Sing of Janet Collins and the sweetly bitchy Peep-Bo of Kate Stevenson.

Malcolm Lowe, as the wandering minstrel, looked slightly worried on the first night. He had no need to be as his excellent tenor voice was fully equal to every demand of the part of Nanki-Poo while Howard Brooks made a sonorous and dependable feed-man as Pish-Tush.

Most Katishas appear as large, ill-favoured ladies with booming voices. Sheila Ferris presented a pocket-sized one with a light voice but she could spit venom just as well as her bigger sisters. Still another member of the talented Sheppard family made his debut. This was young Jonathan as the diminutive axe-bearer.

All Orientals are said to look alike to us so it was difficult to pick out our favourite chorus girl from all those black-wigged, yellow-faced damsels. They moved and sang most tunefully only to be slightly up-staged by the impressive men’s chorus.

Ken Ferris's orchestra gave an efficient accompaniment and if they must keep on doing G and S, do it like this!

Gilbert Sutcliffe.

Gazette Review

Society's Mikado is really top drawer

PARK your Toyota within reach of Witham’s public hall and see what the Japanese were up to before they started to make motor cars. Witham Operatic Society’s revival of The Mikado, which runs until Saturday, brings to life on stage the town of Titipu teeming with black-haired oriental beauties and statuesque gentlemen.

Perhaps the vocalists were a mite restrained, at first, but the quality is there and they will soon loosen up. Pat Harris is a decorative and tuneful Yum-Yum with Janet Collins delightfully roguish as Pitti-Sing. Sonorous and ponderous is Nicholas Clough’s Pooh-Bar and Peter Charters provides a spectacular Mikado. Tenor Malcolm Lowe is the romantic lover who escapes the clutches of the spine-chilling elderly lady Katisha, so well played by Sheila Ferris.

The costumes, the staging and lighting, together with the orchestra, under Ken Ferris, are all out of the top drawer.