In 1991, Nelson Little Theatre presented “The Mikado” for local audiences. It was great fun, (even though it seemed preoccupied with the notion of chopping off heads) and I had the good fortune to play Ko-Ko.
105 years earlier, Victoria, BC. was treated to its own production of this Gilbert and Sullivan classic, on the very eve and day of Robert Sproule’s scheduled execution. Fortunately, he was to live to see another day but, alas, never a performance. His execution date was postponed on six different occasions till finally he was hanged on Oct. 29, 1886. Here’s what one journalist had to say about the show:
"Victoria has been taken by storm. The Thompson Opera Company achieved a brilliant success at the Victoria last evening. The house was crowded, and from the beginning to end the entertainment was a succession of triumphs. No company with so many excellent performers has before appeared on Victoria boards. The acting could not have been better; the vocalism was of the highest order, and the stage settings were most appropriate. It has seldom been our good fortune to listen to a tenor of Mr. Branson’s ability, a baritone of Mr. Seaman’s power, or bassos of Mr. Gillow and Mr. Murray’s capacity. The character of Katisah (sp. Katisha) by Miss Godfrey was admirably sustained and her lovely voice had excellent scope. Yum-Yum by Miss Hall, Pitti Sing by Miss Vining, Peep-Boo by Miss Branson, were successful efforts. Ko-Ko in Mr. McCollin’s hands is on e of the most amusing roles ever attempted, and was delightfully performed. There were frequent encores during the evening, particularly the National Anthem at the close. The choruses were sustained. There is not an inferior singer or actor in the company. The town is ringing with their success. Readers should not fail to see the Mikado, which will be repeated to-night. Seats may be secured at Waitt’s."