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The Mikado

12 customer reviews

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Audio CD, June 30, 2011
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Editorial Reviews

Donald Adams (Mikado of Japan) - Thomas Round (Nanki-Poo) - Peter Pratt (Ko-Ko) - Kenneth Sandford (Pooh-Bah) - Alan Styler (Pish-Tush)... The New Symphony Orchestra of London - Isidore Godfrey, direction

Product Details

  • Audio CD
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Magdalen
  • ASIN: B004HW9BE8
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #986,294 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

5 star
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4 star
33%
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By J. T Waldmann on January 27, 2008
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I must admit that I had doubts about Groucho Marx performing the role of The Lord High Executioner in Gilbert & Sullivan's most popular work, but after several listenings, I find his brand of hi-jinx (". . . equal parts Rufus J. Firefly, Quincy Adams Wagstaff, Otis B. Driftwood, and Captain Geoffrey T. Spaulding"), quite appropriate for this "simple tale of love and intrigue." Perhaps he drags the tempo a bit in "I've Got a Little List," but everywhere else, he's a delight, especially playing opposite Helen Traubel's Katisha (Margaret Dumont, anyone?). Just give a listen to their "There Is Beauty (in the Bellow of the Blast)."

Martyn Green, one of the better Ko-Ko's of modern times, not only was one of the producers of this 1960 Bell Telephone Hour Production (NBC-TV), but he also took on the formidable task of adapting a two-hour stage production into a 50-minute television special. And he's done quite a fine job of it. Most of the familiar song have been retained, albeit somewhat truncated at times, and he has supplied some rather witty dialogue to keep the plot moving at a lively pace. Donald Voorhees even adapted the instrumentation of his Bell Telephone Orchestra to fit Sir Arthur Sullivan's original orchestrations.

Even though Groucho got top billing, the rest of the cast is as good, and in some cases, even better in their respective roles. Leading off is Robert Rounseville ("Candide," anyone?) as Nanki-Poo, Barbara Meister as Yum-Yum, Stanley Holloway as Pooh-Bah (Lord High Everything Else), Dennis King as The Mikado, the aforementioned Helen Traubel, Melinda Marx (Groucho's daughter) and Sharon Randall as the Peep-Bo Sisters, and the incredible Norman Luboff choir as the Citizens of Japan.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By D.L. on December 26, 2007
Format: Audio CD
This version of "The Mikado" is one of the best ever recorded, with popular stars in most major roles, including Groucho Marx as Ko-Ko. It is also one of the most popularly accessible, with its length reduced to less than 60 minutes and virtually (if not actually) all of the dialogue from the adaptation included. Expertly truncated by Gilbert & Sullivan icon Martyn Green, this studio recording of the 1960 Bell Telephone Hour special includes everything necessary to be well-introduced to the full operetta, though I would have preferred to see Katisha's solo omitted to allow complete versions of the numbers included; there are some jarring edits within some of the songs. However, the libretto had to not only be reduced to a single hour but also to three fairly equal parts, so that may have been one of Green's motivations in cutting it as he did. (The oddest shortening is of the Act 1 Finale, which omits Katisha altogether. This may be the reason for including Katisha's solo later in the play, but it also may have been a favorite of Green's and a necessary spotlight for the formidable Helen Traubel.)

The sound is exceptional, as this is not a transcription from the live performance but a studio recording that preserves all the spontaneity of the TV show while offering first-rate engineering. The only quibble I've had with the recording is the heavy mic-ing of Groucho's daughter Melinda on "Three Little Maids," which emphasizes her untrained voice at the expense of the other two singers.

Aside from Groucho's highly enjoyable Ko-Ko (with a surprisingly moving "Titwillow"), Dennis King's Mikado is of particular note, and very original in its depiction of the emperor as a happy technocrat rather than the haughty and foreboding presence typical of most productions.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jason L. Smith on January 12, 2009
Format: Audio CD
I discovered Gilbert and Sullivan when I was in High School. As I learned more and more about Gilbert and Sullivan, I would invariably hear adults wax nostalgic about a production of the Mikado they once remembered seeing on TV starring Groucho Marx. I had all but given up hope of ever hearing his performance, until I discovered this CD on Amazon.

Having finally listened to it, I have to say that it is funny on several different levels. First of all, "The Mikado" is a fairly long play, and for the television production, they had to squeeze the entire story into about an hour. Second, the producers of the play were very cognisant of the fact that viewers were tuned in to see Groucho, not Gilbert and Sullivan. Putting these two facts together, we receive a production which almost seems to be played on fast forward, with musicians playing songs at a much fast tempo, and singers singing only the barest minimum of songs, all so that we can get to the bits of the play that have Groucho (playing Koko, the Lord High Executioner) in them.

Groucho delivers a sterling and hilarious performance (as he always does), but this might not be the best way to enjoy the full glory of "The Mikado." Still, there are many other productions of the play which are available; but there will only ever be one Groucho Marx. It seems a fair trade-off to me.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on January 28, 2008
Format: Audio CD
If I could give this CD one thousand stars, I would. I never got to see the original, but that hardly matters. Any fan of Groucho Marks can fill in all the blanks. Of course, Stanley Holloway tries very hard to steal the show, but instead becomes a perfect complement for Groucho.

I have been jealously guarding my vinyl version, convinced that this would never appear on commercial CD, but "Behold! [We have] the Lord High Executioner" now available for endless hours of fun!
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