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  • Writer's pictureSarah

Review of an all male 'The Mikado' at Wilton's Music Hall

Three men wearing shorts with flower crowns on their headssing into a badminton racket
The Mikado '3 Little Maids' Richard Russell Edwards (Hebe Flo) Sam Kipling (Miss Violet Plumb) Owen Clayton (Bluebell Tring) and cast Photo credit Mark Senior

Despite this being one of Gilbert & Sullivan’s most famous operettas I hadn't seen it previously. I was familiar with the songs “A Wand’ring Minstrel I”, “Behold the Lord High Executioner” and “Three little maids from school are we” as my aunt was part of an Am-Dram group and used to frequently sing refrains from the latter.

With music by Arthur Sullivan and libretto by W. S. Gilbert, this was their ninth of 14 operatic collaborations. It opened on 14 March 1885, in London, where it ran at the Savoy Theatre for 672 performances, the second-longest run for any work of musical theatre and one of the longest runs of any theatre piece up to that time. By the end of 1885, it was estimated that, in Europe and America, at least 150 companies were producing the opera.

Almost anything playing at Wilton's is going to be a draw for me, it's one of the prettiest and most atmospheric small theatres in London. I got there early enough for a nice glass of house rose and a slice of pizza in the upstairs cocktail bar and soaked up the atmosphere of this historic building.

Like Sasha Regan, I'd attended an all girls school, so was familiar with the concept of having to play the opposite gender in school plays. I remember being cast as Huckleberry Finn in Tom Sawyer (probably because I was short, as opposed to possessing any actual talent). Her all male cast is a playful nod to those days, she makes this into a boys school camping trip.

And this is where I was confused. This operetta is traditionally set in Japan, with 'Mikado' being the title traditionally given to the Emperor of Japan. Instead the camping trip is set in a fictional county called Titipu, yet the title remained Mikado. I couldn't tell if the boys were supposed to be putting on a play, or the action was happening around them - one minute they were boys with cricket bats and badminton rackets being boyish and the next they were old men in the story.

A man with his head poking out of a tent flap and second man standing to the right of the tent flap
David McKechnie (Mr Cocoa) and Aidan Nightingale (Albert Barr) Photo credit Mark Senior

The cast use the all male casting to good effect, camping up the camping, which caused lots of laughter in the audience. Notable performances came from the more experienced actors. David McKechni's Mr Coco, previously an tailor under a death sentence for flirting is now the 'Lord High Executioner', and Aidan Nightingale as Albert Barr is the 'Lord High Everything Else' made for a good comic partnership. Whilst Declan Egan as Bertie Hugh and Sam Kipling as Miss Violet Plumb managed to bring great tenderness to the relationship that seems impossible until there are a number of plot twists and turns.

If you fancy seeing something a little different in the most beautiful venue, this is not to be missed.

Cast of the all male Mikado at Wilton's: Declan Egan (Bertie Hugh) (the night we visited the role was played by Oliver Bradley Taylor) Sam Kipling (Miss Violet Plumb) Lewis Kennedy (The Mikado) David McKechnie (Mr Cocoa) George Dawes (Wilfred Lush) Aidan Nightingale (Albert Barr) Owen Clayton (Bluebell Tring) Richard Russell Edwards (Hebe Flo) Christopher Hewitt (Kitty Shaw) Ensemble Harry Cooper-Millar Oliver Bradley-Taylor Patrick Cook Struan Davidson Francisco Gomes Elliot Akeister Shane Antony-Whitely Creative Team Director: Sasha Regan Musical Director/Pianist: Anto Buckley Choreographer: Adam Haigh Designer: Ryan Dawson Laight Producers: Regan De Wynter Williams

Where is the Mikado on?

Wilton’s Music Hall

Graces Alley,

London E1 8JB

When is the all male Mikado on:

Now until Saturday 1st July 2023.

7:30pm Mon - Sat / Thu & Sat matinees 2:30pm

It will then tour to Theatre Royal Winchester 3 - 8 July, Theatre Royal Bath 10 - 15 July, Hall for Cornwall 20 - 22 July.

Running Time: approximately 2 hours 10 mins, plus an interval of 20 minutes.

Box Office: 020 7702 2789

Tickets: £12.50 - £32 full price | £10 - £29.50 concessions


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