“A more humane Mikado never did in Japan exist, to nobody’s second, I’m certainly reckoned a true philanthropist. It is my very humane endeavour to make, to some extent, each evil liver a running river of harmless merriment.”
The Mikado or The Town of Titipu
March 9 to April 1, 2007
The idea for this production (the third full staging of The Mikado by The GSVLOC) was born at long-time company member Dean Laurance’s cabin in Stone Lake, Wisconsin. The question came to this: Concept or no concept? The former offered opportunities to look at the material in a new and fresh way— but this also brought with it certain risks, i.e. why tinker with greatness? Is the concept merely a caprice of the director or is there a meaningful reason for a new approach? What about those who have never seen The Mikado—will they be robbed of the opportunity of enjoying Gilbert and Sullivan’s greatest work without, well, enhancements, at best, and distracting clutter, at worst?
I’ve never been a fan of “concept for concept’s sake” productions. So, I gave careful consideration to both points of view and ended somewhere in the middle. This show is at once a respectful production of a masterwork and an homage to our oldest company member, Warren Loud. There are elements of fantasy, to be sure, but the intention is, nevertheless, respectful to the source material. In short (too late?), my goal was to provide those who have seen The Mikado many times a respectfully interpreted version that would offer them something new while not offending their sensibilities. And for those new to The Mikado, my hope is that they will enjoy an interpretation that is true to the spirit of the original and in many ways very traditional in its approach. So, fear not. Yum-Yum does not wear army boots, and Titipu is not placed at the base of a hydro-electric dam.
This is a show seen through the lens of memory—a lens through which some events are remembered with great accuracy, others are tinged with sepia, and some surface with the bold fantastical elements that can only be the result of the dreamlike quality of the subconscious mind.
I hope you enjoy our production.
Warren In the Spotlight
The framing story for this production of The Mikado featured Warren Loud, who was, at the age of 85, our oldest performer.
Warren Loud was born September 13, 1921 and grew up in Weymouth, Massachusetts, in a family that loved music. He took piano lessons as a child and had an aunt who particularly encouraged sight-reading. He first sang Gilbert & Sullivan songs in the Glee Club (as a second bass) at MIT where he earned his Bachelor’s degree and doctorate in Mathematics. His first full production was in 1947 when he was recruited by a friend (who was playing Pooh-Bah) to be in the chorus of The Mikado, being done by a Catholic girls club in Boston. He and his fiancée, Mary Lou Strasburg, were particularly struck by the duet “There is beauty in the bellow of the blast,” which seemed to reflect their own continuing discovery of tastes in common.
In 1947, Warren left the labs of MIT to take a teaching position in the Mathematics Department at the University of Minnesota, returning that December to Boston where he and Mary Lou were married December 27th. (During their few months of separation, he wrote every day!) After forty-five years of teaching, he retired from the University in 1992, but continues to volunteer as a math tutor at the English Learning Center and at Whittier School in Minneapolis.
Warren has been in the GSVLOC since it began in 1979. He played the Judge in Trial by Jury in the first production and Colonel Calverley in Patience. He missed two productions altogether, but has performed the entire canon of G&S works with our Company. In recent years, the distinction of being the oldest performer has landed him some good moments in the spotlight, including his wheelchair participation in Iolanthe’s “March of the Peers” (followed shortly by a little enchanted dance out of the wheelchair).
He was for many years, part of the non-performing Gilbert & Sullivan Society in the Twin Cities, meeting monthly to listen to recordings. He also sang with the Plymouth Congregational Church choir for forty-four years and performed with the Minneapolis Civic Opera at Lake Harriet.
Warren spent three of his sabbaticals abroad, in Germany, Japan, and Italy, studying the language of each before going. (He admits these locations are an “ironic combination” for someone who came of age in World War II). Japan (1974-75) was particularly fun because of the Gilbert & Sullivan connection, and they tracked down the Titipu – Chichibu connection. In retirement, they have enjoyed Elderhostels and Oberlin-run trips, including visits to China, South Africa, Egypt, Morocco, and South America. Warren and Mary Lou have three children (Margaret, Elizabeth, and John) and four grandchildren, one of whom is following in his grandfather’s footsteps and working on a doctorate at MIT.
Warren passed away January 15, 2010 at the age of 88.
|Warren Loud, as The Old Man, with Sarah Wind, as Yum-Yum, on stage in our production of The Mikado.
|Warren Loud, backstage, during our production of The Mikado.
Two excellent internet resources for information about The Mikado:
Photography by Daniels Studio
“For he’s gone and married Yum-Yum – Yum-Yum!
Your anger pray bury,
for all will be merry,
I think you had better succumb –
And join our expressions of glee!
On this subject I pray you be dumb
Your notions, though many,
are not worth a penny,
the word for your guidance is “Mum” – Mum-Mum!
You’ve a very good bargain in me.”
“I’ve Got a Little List,” with Peter Hedlesky as Ko-Ko, the Lord High Executioner, and Men’s Chorus. This rendition includes a number of topical references, including a reference to “lutefisk,” attesting to the Minnesota locale for this production.