A video of a 1982 performance at Canada's Stratford Festival (live, though with some singing dubbed), this is very much a theatrical experience, with the buoyancy of a show played before an audience. The cast and spectat... more »ors take obvious pleasure in each other, and in classic Gilbert and Sullivan tradition, several numbers are encored. Subtlety is not this production's strong point, but you don't look to G&S for subtlety. As Ko-Ko, Eric Donkin doesn't exactly create a character. His performance is that of a vaudeville clown--he even wears a Japanese version of baggy pants. But his straight-to-the-audience delivery is irresistible. Gidon Saks plays the title role in Japanese-theater style, drawing out his syllables, rising to a scream at the end of a sentence. Though these mannerisms are a bit much, his demented tyrant of a Mikado is gripping and even spooky. The production is not lavish, with a single, unadorned set and fairly basic staging. But there are some brilliant effects such as the entrance of the Mikado, enclosed in a litter, which his carriers open to reveal him standing magnificently in a miniature interior. Many of the comic lines have been updated, and with impressive wit. It's too bad that their topicality results in a lot of 1980s Canadian references, which will leave 21st-century non-Canadians feeling left out. Still, this is a highly satisfying interpretation of a classic. --David Olivenbaum« less
"This is the version done at the Stratford Festival in the late 80s with Eric Donkin and Marie Baron. The staging is very sparse, but quite well done. This new version is not as high quality as the earlier (more expensive) version, but well worth the $17. Purists beware -- some of the songs have been gutted and the lyrics have been changed!"
Hazen B Markoe | 09/17/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"My wife and I really enjoy G&S - not aficionados, just fans. The Stratford Festival's version of "The Mikado" was wonderful. While we are relatively new to the works of G&S, this production was by far the best we've seen. The Canadian "flare" in "They'll None of 'Em Be Missed" brought back many, many fond memories of the times we've spent in Canada and of our first exposure to "The Mikado" in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Stratford's cast will live forever in their lively and thoroughly entertaining "Mikado." We look forward to many more enjoyable evenings listening to and watching the banter between Ko-Ko and Pooh-Bah. Thanks to Stratford (and AMAZON.COM) we're anxiously awaiting delivery of "The Pirates of Penzance" and "Iolanthe." G&S lives! Tom & Carol Weber Chesterfield, MO, USA"
Stratford gives a fun-filled and energetic MIKADO
Hazen B Markoe | St. Paul, MN United States | 06/30/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"While some Gilbert & Sullivan devotees may quibble with this Canadian version of their masterpiece, THE MIKADO, there's no denying this version's infectious energy and fun. This production by the Stratford Festival is awash with high-jinks antics, solid acting and a boldness rarely seen since the Kevin Kline/Linda Ronstadt version of THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE. Director Brian Macdonald directs this production with a sure hand and a fine sense of humor. Eric Donkin makes for a solid and delightfully uptight Ko-Ko, while the tall and very lanky Richard McMillan steals the show as the self important Pooh-Bah. Marie Baron's Yum-Yum is a pure delight, and Karen Wood is a delightful Pitti-Sing. Gidon Saks makes for a rather hammy, but delightfully fierce, Mikado. Henry Ingram seems a little old for the youthful Nanki-Poo, but he definitely gets into the spirit of this wonderfully broad production. Some fans may not appreciate the "modern" Canadian references nor the very slight liberties in the score, but this is probably the one production that doesn't treat the immortal work like a museum piece. This is definitely the best version on DVD to date and one that I would definitely recommend."
A very good, funny production!
Sean | LOOK | 07/09/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This was a wonderful production from the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Ontario, Canada.The cast is very strong, and benefits from being actors, as opposed to singers. The weakest link in the cast (and I think any one will agree with me) is Henry Ingram as Nanki-Poo, who is not an actor, just a singer. He's not the young, handsome type that one would like to see in the role, nor is he even all that funny. Marie Baron as Yum-Yum is high spirited, bubbly, and funny. Also exceedinly comical is Richard McMillan's Pooh-Bah, who steals the show. Eric Donkin is a perfect Ko-Ko, of the D'Oyly Care breed. Pish-Tush (Allen Stewart-Coates) is generally a non-descript, but is of strong voice and personality here, and is left to be fairly memorable. Karen Wood is PERFECT for the adorable Pitti-Sing, and is cute and charming to boot! My least favorite presence in the cast, though, is Gidon Saks as The Mikado of Japan himself. Now, I love over the top performances, as you can tell from my praise of McMillan, but this one crosses the lines of what's bearable. I feel that a strong Mikado, next to being highly comical, should at least be somewhat intimidating. Saks just plays the Mikado as a big goofy man, that strikes fear into no one (except for the cast, for some strange reason).The production was brilliantly and swiftly staged by Brian MacDonald, who keeps everything comical and at a swift pace.(Incedentally, I did THE MIKADO myself this summer with the local G&S Society, a first-rate Summer Stock company. A Canadian tenor played Nanki-Poo, and he told me HORROR STORIES of what it was like for friends of his who have worked with Mr. MacDonald.)This is the best out of the Stratford G&S series, since it's the beginning, and it was before MacDonald and musical director Carriere got too self-indulgent in what they thought they could do to Gilbert & Sullivan's work.The two CBC documentaries included on the DVD are very informative. And I seriously doubt that it was really filmed live. The laughter and applause sounds canned, and you never ONCE see the audience. And from the way the camera moves, I think it was filmed in an empty theatre with the audience added later.But this is still a first-rate production. Mnimalist and fast-paced, it is theatrically refershing, and a great introduction to G&S for any one!"
Great rendition! Small flaws
J. Burke | Boston, MA USA | 10/14/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The video/DVD is of a staged Canadian production, filmed from the proscenium-audience point of view with some close-ups, in full costume and makeup appropriate to the G&S script and score. The score is very well sung although the songs are dubbed, you have to pay special attention to notice this. The lip-sync is very, very good and since they don't have to worry about singing perfectly "live" with the camera, they can do more acting while mouthing their parts, and it all works very well. Some wonderfully stylized performances make it fun, expecially from Pooh Bah who is the tallest actor I've ever seen in a G&S opera! Folks who are addicted to perfect-score singing will notice some deviations (not bad ones, just different) but overall its well-done and includes encores that are usually performed of the most popular numbers at high speed for an appreciative audience. I recommend this version to Mikado-lovers."