Curtain up on Halifax Gilbert and Sullivan Society's production of the Mikado at the Playhouse

The curtain goes up on Halifax Gilbert and Sullivan Society’s production of one of the duo’s most popular works – The Mikado at the Playhouse next week.
Three Little Maids From School - in the Mikado at Halifax PlayhouseThree Little Maids From School - in the Mikado at Halifax Playhouse
Three Little Maids From School - in the Mikado at Halifax Playhouse

This is the Halifax Society’s sixth production of The Mikado, which it first gave in 1977.

Making her debut as director is Christine Roberts, who has been in the cast for the last three productions, playing Yum-Yum in 2003.

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Keira Watson is another newcomer, taking over the musical direction.

Keira has already conducted shows at the Playhouse, most recently with Halifax Light Opera’s The Addams Family last year. She has also conducted shows for Woodhouse Musical Theatre Company in Huddersfield.

The G+S comedy features Yum-Yum and Nanki-Poo, star-crossed lovers. They are played by Rowena Thornton and John Tattersall, who tied the knot themselves in July.

Katisha, the fearsome lady with designs on Nanki-Poo, is Anna Trent, who during the day is a senior registrar with Kirklees, thus transforming in the evening from a person who performs marriages to one who tries to break one up.

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The Mikado is played by Steven Greenwood, a founder member of the society which started in 1968. He directed the show in 1985 and played Nanki-Poo in 1995.

Leon Waksberg is Ko-Ko. He played the role in the society’s last production of The Mikado.

Pooh-Bah is played by Edward Thornton. Yum-Yum’s two schoolgirl friends are Clare Williams and Deirdre O’Shea, while Pish-Tush, a noble lord who acts mainly as Pooh-Bah’s sidekick, is Richard Buxton – himself a former Nanki-Poo, who directed and conducted the Society’s last production of the show in 2013.

The show is a satire of social and political life in 19th-century Britain, disguised in a picturesque Japanese setting.

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The Lord High Executioner of the town of Titipu, Ko-Ko, has been promoted to a post far beyond his capabilities, while the haughty Pooh-Bah, who holds multiple positions, requires a hefty bonus for actually doing any work.

The Mikado, Emperor of Japan, is a benevolent despot who rules his country with a singular mixture of humour and sadism.

Meanwhile Yum-Yum, just out of school, has fallen in love with Nanki-Poo, whom she thinks to be a strolling minstrel. He has a past, however, which includes being pursued by Katisha, a redoubtable lady of the Mikado’s court.

All these characters come together in a series of thwarted advances, misunderstandings and desperate cover-ups, all set to some of Sullivan’s most memorable music.

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Director Christine Roberts said: “After 35 years of treading the boards myself, I was thrilled and honoured this year to be invited to step up into a new role of director for The Mikado.

"I first fell in love with G&S as a teenager & have never looked back. The catchy tunes, witty humour and clever lyrics have such timeless appeal, with jokes that – although written so many years ago – are still incredibly relevant to society today.

“I'm loving the challenge of directing my first show and have aimed to create a bright and colourful production, firmly routed in tradition, but with an added mix of fresh ideas. I hope our audiences enjoy it.”

The Mikado runs from Wednesday November 15 to Saturday November 18, daily at 7.30pm with an additional matinee performance at 2.30 onSaturday.

Tickets for all performances are £14, £12 for concessions (over 60; full-time students) and £6 for under 16s.