The Mikado, the best known and best loved of all Gilbert and Sullivan shows, is at Pantages Playhouse Theatre this week. From April 24 through April 27, Winnipeg becomes the imagined Japanese town of Titipu, full of puffed up politicians and young ingénues ruled by a power-hungry emperor.
The production by the Gilbert and Sullivan Society of Winnipeg features a number of local references in the famous song, "As Some Day It May Happen," also known as the "List Song." It's traditionally sung by Ko-Ko, who will be performed by local singer Fred Cross.
SCENE asked Cross to fill us in on this song's tradition:
In the song, Ko-Ko, or the Lord High Executioner, lists "society offenders who might well be underground and who never would be missed." It's all bluster on the part of Ko-Ko, who by his own admission couldn't harm a mosquito. But listen to the lyrics and you might be surprised to hear some sharp lampooning of famous and infamous people in our own society!
W. S. Gilbert, who wrote the libretto for The Mikado in 1885, began the tradition of updating the lyrics to the "List Song" for subsequent revivals of the show. Since then, audiences have come to expect that Ko-Ko will have something topical to say when he rattles off the list of ne'er-do-wells.
So who's on Ko-Ko's list in this production? If we gave away all the details, Ko-Ko would almost certainly add us to his list, but we can provide a few hints as to who is named this time around.
A well-known misbehaving athlete is on the list as well as some thoughtless people we run into at the local grocery store. Considering the appalling climactic conditions in Winnipeg this April, a certain CBC weatherman is being held accountable. We are unable to reveal our source for the next offenders, but we have it on good authority that certain local politicians will be included - by inference, if not by name.
Performances of The Mikado run at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 24; Friday, April 26 and Saturday, April 27 with a 2:30 p.m. show Saturday, April 27.