The Mikado

Comic opera by WS Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan. Set against the exotic background of Japan this comic opera recounts the absurd tale of the bizarre goings on in the mythical town of Titipu.

1986 - 2019: London Revival at the London Coliseum

1989: West End Revival at the Savoy Theatre

2000: West End Revival at the Savoy Theatre

2002: West End Revival at the Savoy Theatre

2008: West End Revival at the Gielgud Theatre

Other Gilbert and Sullivan opera's seen in London include Iolanthe, The Pirates of Penzance, H M S Pinafore, and The Gondoliers. Adaptations include The Hot Mikado, by David H Bell and Rob Bowman.


1986: London Revival (London Coliseum)

Previewed Thursday 18 September 1986, Opened 27 September 1986, Closed 25 November 1986 (in repertory) at the London Coliseum

The original September 1986 cast featured Richard Angas as 'The Mikado of Japan', Bonaventura Bottone as 'Nanki-Poo', Eric Idle as 'Ko-Ko', Richard van Allan as 'Pooh-Bah', Mark Richardson as 'Pish-Tush', Lesley Garrett as 'Yum-Yum', Jean Rigby as 'Pitti-Sing', Susan Bullock as 'Peep-Bo', and Felicity Palmer as 'Katisha'.

Directed by Jonathan Miller, with choreography by Anthony van Laast, designs by Stefanos Lazaridis, and lighting by David Cunningham.

This production returned to repertory from February to April 1987, November 1988 to February 1989, February to April 1990, September to November 1991, March and April 1993, September and October 1994, December 1996, January 1997, September and October 1997, December 2001 to February 2002, April and May 2004, February and March 2006, February and March 2008, February and March 2011, December 2012, January 2013, November 2015 to February 2016, and October and November 2019.


1989: West End Revival (The New D'Oyly Carte)

Opened 12 September 1989, Closed 2 December 1989 (in repertory) at the Savoy Theatre

The New D'Oyly Carte present Gilbert and Sullivan's The Mikado in London

The cast featured Michael Ducarel as 'The Mikado of Japan', Hugh Hetherington / Garth Bardsley as 'Nanki-Poo', Eric Roberts as 'Ko-Ko', Richard Suart/Gareth Jones as 'Pooh-Bah', Gareth Jones as 'Pish-Tush', Kate Flowers as 'Yum-Yum', Thora Ker / Pauline Birchall as 'Pitti-Sing', Yvonne Patrick as 'Peep-Bo', and Susan Gorton as 'Katisha'.

Directed by John Wells, with choreography by Micha Bergese, designs by Eileen Diss, and lighting by Paul Pyant.

Presented in repertory with The Pirates of Penzance.


2000: West End Revival (D'Oyly Carte)

Previewed 15 September 2000, Opened 21 September 2000, Closed 13 January 2001 at the Savoy Theatre

A major revival of Gilbert and Sullivan's The Mikado in London presened by the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company

The cast featured Malcolm Rivers as 'The Mikado of Japan', Colin Lee as 'Nanki-Poo', Richard Suart as 'Ko-Ko', Royce Mills as 'Pooh-Bah', Gareth Jones as 'Pish-Tush', Jacqueline Varsey as 'Yum-Yum', Maria Jones as 'Pitti-Sing', Sophie-Louise Dann as 'Peep-Bo', and Deborah Hawksley as 'Katisha'.

Directed by Ian Judge, with choreography by Lindsay Dolan, designs by Tim Goodchild, and lighting by Wayne Dowdeswell.

This production returned at the Savoy Theatre, in a re-cast staging, in June 2002.

"D'Oyly Carte has not only made a comeback, but seems to be going from strength to strength... Musical standards both on stage and in the pit struck me as exceptionally high, with none of the over-amplification that afflicts so many West End musicals. Best of all is the sheer wit and exuberance of Ian Judge's fresh-as-paint production, brilliantly designed by Tim Goodchild... There are winning performances all round. Colin Lee has a fine tenor voice and a lovely open-countenanced innocence as Nanki-Poo... Jacqueline Varsey, as Yum-Yum, has a deliciously pert sense of humour, while Deborah Hawksley finds moments of unexpected poignancy as Katisha... Royce Mills plays Pooh-Bah with a beaming countenance and plummy-voiced self-satisfaction... while Richard Suart provides a comic gem of a performance as Ko-Ko... The whole show is a thoroughly English treat." The Daily Telegraph

"Calling the designer the star of the show usually means that he has overwhelmed the cast, or that they're not up to much. But that's not the case with Tim Goodchild, whose set for the D'Oyly Carte Mikado is a lovely toy-box framed in lipstick-red lacquer - just the thing for a child you want to be a posh interior decorator... The comic honours go to Royce Mill's jovially greasy Pooh-bah, his handlebar moustache announcing a model that, although often used, is still perfectly suited to this characterisation... Colin Lee is a splendidly innocent but manly Nanki-poo, while Jacqueline Varsey is a surprisingly astringent minx... Richard Suart, however, is a disappointingly bland Ko-Ko - stooping and cringing, too poleaxed by his grand appointment to enjoy it... While the other actors' charm, though, matches that of the setting, their articulation doesn't." The Independent

The Mikado in London at the Savoy Theatre previewed from 15 September 2000, opened on 21 September 2000, and closed on 13 January 2001


2002: West End Revival with Jasper Carrott (D'Oyly Carte)

Previewed 25 June 2002, Opened 27 June 2002, Closed 14 September 2002 at the Savoy Theatre

The D'Oyly Carte Opera Company present Gilbert and Sullivan's The Mikado in London

The cast featured Graham Stone as 'The Mikado of Japan', Joseph Shovelton as 'Nanki-Poo', Jasper Carrott as 'Ko-Ko' (not Thursday 11 July, Friday 26 July and Saturday 27 July), Royce Mills as 'Pooh-Bah', Gareth Jones as 'Pish-Tush', Jacqueline Varsey / Charlotte Page as 'Yum-Yum', Sandra Nakhosteen as 'Pitti-Sing', Michelle Lokey-Smid as 'Peep-Bo', and Susannah Self as 'Katisha'.

Directed by John La Bouchardiere, from the original by Ian Judge, with choreography by Lyn Jolly, from the original by Lindsay Dolan, designs by Tim Goodchild, and lighting Wayne Dowdeswell.

Revival of the production originally seen at the Savoy Theatre in September 2000 - see above.

"Jasper Carrott certainly looks suitably outlandish - a cross between a dolorous, shock-haired, ageing hippie and an exotically beaky wading bird. The voice is light, but he can successfully carry Sullivan's tunes while ensuring that Gilbert's words come crisply across. But this is an irritatingly low-key performance, suited more to stand-up drollery than the eccentric, exaggerated world of the Savoy operas. Put him beside Royce Mills's wonderfully theatrical, extravagantly plummy Pooh-Bah and you have to, many times - and this Ko-Ko is eclipsed... Ian Judge's production certainly gets it right, the laughs (and there are lots) coming mainly from the silliness of the English japing at being Japanese... There are two outstanding vocal performances in Joseph Shovelton's matinee-idol Nanki-Poo and Jacqueline Varsey's knowing Yum-Yum. But in the end Jasper is, well, Jasper. And being himself is never quite enough." The Daily Mail

"As a rule, comedy travels poorly across the centuries... Usually the solution is an update. In this D'Oyly Carte production, comedian Jasper Carrott as Ko-Ko sings I've Got A Little List with new words - although he had only to say Two Jags or Ken Livingstone to cause hilarity which is hardly wit. Carrott pulls poignant faces as the unlucky clown who is supposed to behead himself for flirting. His thin tenor makes nothing of the story in the lovely Tit-Willow. His acting is suitable for TV rather than the stage. His gestures should be grander, more definite and actorly. Royce Mills as Pooh-Bah has the right idea. He sings Punishment Fit The Crime imperiously... Tenor Joe Shovelton and soprano Charlotte Page are excellent as lovers Nanki-Poo and Yum-Yum. He sings A Wandering Minstrel with tight-trousered innocence. Her vowels are exquisite... Comedy may not travel well but music does. The best of Sullivan is here and deserves better." The Daily Mirror

The Mikado in London at the Savoy Theatre previewed from 25 June 2002, opened on 27 June 2002, and closed on 14 September 2002


2008: West End Revival with Alistair McGowan (Carl Rosa)

Opened 30 January 2008, Closed 9 February 2008 at the Gielgud Theatre

A major revival of Gilbert and Sullivan's The Mikado in London presented by the Carl Rosa Theatre Company

Featuring the Oscar winning sets and costumes from Mike Leigh's film Topsy Turvy, this superb production transports us to the magnificent court of Titipu and the hilarious tale of love, corruption in local government, marriage, executions and heroics! Written in 1885 when Gilbert had the inspired idea of transplanting mid Victorian England in to the exotic background of oriental Japan, it is has a cast of comic characters whose names themselves epitomise the very essence of G&S: Koko, Yum Yum, Nanki Poo, Katisha and, of course, the Mikado himself. With Sullivan also at his very best the score is a toe sparkling gem, speeding the story along with a host of toe tapping greats.

Carl Rosa Opera's new production is a historic re-creation of the original authorised Savoy production of 1885. Gilbert's authenticated prompt book has been the source for the direction, staging, and choreography. This production presents a faithful reproduction of the original stage settings, together with historic costumes designed by Wilhelm as seen in the 1953 film The Gilbert and Sullivan Story. Many drawings, photographs, designs, and research material have been unearthed for this ongoing project that has taken four years to co-ordinate.

The cast featured Alistair McGowan as 'The Mikado of Japan', Andrew Rees as 'Nanki-Poo', Fenton Gray as 'Ko-Ko', Bruce Graham as 'Pooh-Bah', Steven Page as 'Pish-Tush', Charlotte Page as 'Yum-Yum', Sophie-Louise Dann as 'Pitti-Sing', Lesley Cox as 'Peep-Bo', and Nichola McAuliffe as 'Katisha'.

Directed and designed by Peter Mulloy, with choreography by David Furnell, and lighting by Mark Doubleday.

The Carl Rosa Opera Company's 2008 London Season at the Gielgud Theatre includes Iolanthe from 11 to 16 February 2008 and The Pirates of Penzance from 18 February to 1 March 2008.

Alistair McGowan's London theatre credits include the role 'Orin Scrivello, The Dentist' in Matthew White's revival of the Alan Menken and Howard Ashman musical Little Shop of Horrors at the Duke of York's Theatre in 2007.

Nichola McAuliffe's London theatre credits include the roles of 'Judith Fellowes' in Anthony Page's revival of Tennessee Williams' The Night Of The Iguana at the Lyric Theatre in 2005; 'Edwina Buckingham' in Murray Melvin and Syd Ralph's production of the Alberto Carrion and Cinda Fox musical Murderous Instincts at the Savoy Theatre in 2004; 'Baroness Bomburst' in the original cast of Adrian Noble's production of the Sherman Brothers' Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at the London Palladium in 2002; 'Dorothy Price' in Philip Prowse's production of Noel Coward's Semi-Monde at the Lyric Theatre in 2001; 'Mrs Allonby' in Philip Prowse's revival of Oscar Wilde's A Woman of No Importance, for the Royal Shakespeare Company, at the Barbican Theatre in 1991; 'Lilli Vanessi'/'Katherine' in Adrian Noble's revival of Cole Porter's Kiss Me Kate at the Old Vic Theatre in 1987; and 'Queen Victoria' in Terry Hands and Ian Judge's production of the Peter Nichols and Monty Norman play with songs Poppy at the Aldephi Theatre in 1983.

The Carl Rosa Opera Company's 2008 London Season at the Gielgud Theatre includes Iolanthe from 11 to 16 February 2008 and The Pirates of Penzance from 18 February to 1 March 2008.

"The Carl Rosa Company production of The Mikado is as close as possible to WS Gilbert's original intentions... The result is a fascinating re-creation. The sets, with their layers of receding flats and practicable pagodas, bring a sense of real Victoriana to the project. The costumes look great too, and the choreography is amusingly lively. The only problem is with the on/off lighting scheme, which looks worryingly insufficient rather than nostalgically charming. There are some terrific performances, however. Impressionist Alistair McGowan brings a tremendous sense of authority to the role of the Mikado... Charlotte Page is vocally and dramatically charming as Yum-Yum and Sophie-Louise Dann displays a gift for comedy as Pitti-Sing." The London Metro

"At the start, a sly fragment of rehearsal dumb-show makes the link with Mike Leigh's brilliant film Topsy-Turvy, designs from which have been borrowed for Peter Mulloy's 'authentic' Victorian production. This device neatly diverted attention from a sketchy account of the overture and an initial uncertainty of style... But the experienced Steven Page (Pish-Tush) and deft, lively conductor Martin Handley, guided the company back to Gilbertian crispness and Sullivanian classical pastiche... As the gruesome Katisha, Nichola McAuliffe came out in grand style as a creditable contralto... The title role appears on stage well into Act II. Alistair McGowan, playing the benign Mikado as a cocktail of Fry, Paxman and Cleese, was worth the wait. His timing, inflection and comic expression, together with a well-trained light voice, showed how it should be done." The London Evening Standard

The Mikado in London at the Gielgud Theatre opened on 30 January 2008 and closed on 9 February 2008.