The Mikado 2016

July 16, 17 2016

The Gilbert & Sullivan Very Light Opera Company was pleased to perform The Mikado, once again, at the Lake Harriet Bandshell, with the Minneapolis Pops Orchestra over a beautiful July weekend.

This presentation of The Mikado was different than all previous presentations, however, as the Company had become more fully aware of the controversy regarding The Mikado and the negative racial stereotypes which the work has perpetuated.  While there are those who might respond to the controversy by choosing not to perform the piece, the Gilbert & Sullivan Very Light Opera Company believes that The Mikado is an extraordinary, classic theatrical work that should be performed, with the firm conviction that that which is best about the piece … it’s beautiful music, it’s delightful dialogue and hilarious storyline … can be preserved while that which is inappropriate can be removed.

The Company made its first attempt towards achieving this goal with this summer concert presentation.  In this concert presentation of the operetta, all references to Japan were removed from the text.  The character of the Mikado was referred to as the Emperor.  The names of almost all of the characters were changed to variants of the originals.  The Japanese texts were changed.  “Miya Sama” was rendered in a free translation of the original Japanese song upon which the piece was based, “Mighty Monarch, fearless leader, Marching in the thund’ring dawn, Banners flutter bright to meet you, And the horse you’re on.  Get it done, fearless leader, get it done.”  Gilbert’s original, nonsensical Japanese text, “O ni, bikkuri shakkuri to!” was rendered as an equally nonsensical, “Oh, my pinkery stubbery toe!”  This text, however, was not an attempt at translation, but one that simply rhymed with the surrounding texts and had the right number of syllables! 

It is the Gilbert & Sullivan Very Light Opera Company’s hope that this first attempt at presenting The Mikado with revised text demonstrated that the work can be performed successfully without the negative stereotypes.  The Company will do so again in its fully staged Spring 2019 production of The Mikado, to be directed by Rick Shiomi, using his reimagined version of the operetta.  We look forward to that opportunity!

The cast for this concert production of The Mikado included:

The Emperor Christopher Michela
Nanke Pugh Eric Mellum
Pooh Bah Waldyn Benbenek
Posh Tuff Tom Berg
Quogh Quogh Felix Aguilar Tomlinson
Yum Yum Sarah Wind Richens
Pretty Sing Maggie Burr
Peep Bow Sarah Mehle
Katty Shah Deb Haas

Women’s Chorus

Mary Mescher Benbenek, Kirsten Bighia, Cynthia Dickison, Marlene Doll, Karen Erickson, Taylor Ann Grand, Carmelita Guse, Lesley Hendrickson, Shawn Holt, Kaitlin Klemencic, Sarah LeitzkeJenny Lovitt, Holly MacDonald, Anna Maher, Jo Pasternack, Nicole Riebe, Brianna Sullivan, Rhea Sullivan

Men’s Chorus

Joe Allen, L. Peter Erickson, Clyde Gerber, Alexander Gerchak, Stephen Hage, Andrew “A.J.” Herman, Jerry Kurek, John Orbison, Eric Pasternak, Wendell Peck, Aaron Roloff

Production Coordination

Waldyn Benbenek

Rehearsal Accompanists

Jean Orbison Van Heel, Steven Norquist

The following version of the “I’ve Got a Little List” song was performed by Felix Aguilar Tomlinson, as Ko-Ko, at our 2016 Summer Concert performance of The Mikado. It was written by Tom Berg and Maureen Kane Berg, with a third verse nod to the 2016 presidential campaign.

As someday it may happen that a victim must be found,
I’ve got a little list – I’ve got a little list,
Of society offenders who might well be underground,
And who never would be missed – who never would be missed!
There’s the robo-caller phoning when you’re sitting down to eat;
The high school kid who knocks at midnight, shouting “Trick or treat!”
Receptionists who make you wait a half an hour more;
And golfers who will smack your head and only then yell “Fore”;
The fool drowned out by airplanes, the Mikado soloist,
I don’t think he’d be missed, I’m sure he’d not be missed!

There’s the driver who will barge into the crossroad and get stuck,
And the texting motorist – I’ve got them on the list;
The clown who takes the last two parking spaces with his truck.
He never would be missed, he never would be missed!
And traffic engineers who close a road a month or more,
And send you on a detour back to where you were before;
And airlines who have made their flights a tiresome ordeal,
With tiny seats and bag of mini-pretzels as a meal;
And travelers who zip by on the TSA-Pre list,
They’d none of them be missed, they’d none of them be missed!

But this year I would start with all political buffoons who act obstructionist.
I’ve got them on the list;
Who whistle past a crisis with the same old tired tunes.
They never would be missed, they never would be missed!
All hosts on Fox and CNN and MSNBC;
All those who post on Facebook and who disagree with me;
And candidates like what’s-his-name and also you-know-who.
The task of filling up the blanks I’d rather leave to you;
And that singular anomaly, the orange narcissist, who Marla Maples kissed.
I know he’d not be missed!

Additional alternate lyric versions of the “Little List” song can be found on The Mikado page in our Gilbert & Sullivan Revised section of our website.