Groucho Marx in the Mikado
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VAI's edition adds a number of interesting special features, including:
* Commentary: "Revisiting Mikado" - audio interviews with cast members and friends of Groucho, including Dick Cavett, Melinda Marx Leung, Barbara Meister, Sharon Randall Erdman, and Yvonne Chauveau Dollard (widow of Martyn Green).
* Video bonus: Scenes from H.M.S. PINAFORE featuring Martyn Green, Margot Moser, and Mac Morgan (Bell Telephone Hour, 1963; 12 minutes, color)
* Cast bios
* The original Bell Telephone commercials
At 70, he's absolutely amazing. If Groucho starring is amazing enough, the supporting cast is absolutely terrific. In fact, in many ways Groucho is nearly outclassed by his co-stars, yet his love of the material is so patently there, and his comic technique, suited more to musical comedies than the more rarified operetta format, serves him well. Shot live and in color, with the gargantuan cameras, the whole thing must have been a pretty terrifying experience, and in the early parts of the piece, he seems a bit nervous. But, by the end of the show, he is absolutely glowing with happiness, talent and joy.
The producers have surrounded Groucho with the best of the best. Musical and operetta star Dennis King, who made his Broadway debut in the early '20s, is a spectacularly funny Mikado. He doesn't have the lower register that most Mikado's boom out, but the subtlety in his humor and dexterity with the murderously difficult Gilbert dialogue more than make up for the lack of growl. Barbara Meister is a young and appealing Yum-Yum, but surely Gilbert and Sullivan must be the purgatory for any legit soprano, which she clearly is. Robert Rounseville is a secure and masculine Nanki-Poo, traits not common in most Gilbert and Sullivan tenors. With a little bit of luck, Stanley Holloway, fresh from My Fair Lady, is a properly pompous and pretentious Pooh-Bah.Read more ›
As previously noted, the print is in black and white as no color kinescope has ever been found. But the print that VAI has is more than acceptable. The three acts were condensed into 52 minutes by G&S expert Martyn Green, but all the major songs are there. Watching Groucho and Helen Traubel sing "There is beauty in the bellow of the blast" is wonderful. Traubel is a Margaret Dumont who can sing! Groucho was 70, as was Traubel, when this show was performed.
VAI added great bonuses too! The 27-minutes of "commentary" consists of separate recorded phone interviews made in May 2012 (boy, did they work fast on this!) with Dick Cavett (good friend of Groucho's), Melinda (Marx's daughter, who also appeared on the show), Barbara Meister (also in cast) and Green's widow. These audio commentaries are heard while we see stills as well as some scenes from the performance.
Then there are the three Bell Telephone commercials (lasting six minutes total) which were excised by VAI to allow you to view the three acts without interruption. Each has a relation to music or Japan. Lastly we have 12 minutes IN COLOR of Green performing excerpts from G&S's H.M.S. Pinafore from 1963
A must for G&S fans, Marx brothers fans and anyone who remembers when shows like this aired for FREE with commercials that actually respected the viewer.
This is first time on home video for this show - the soundtrack was released after the airing on Columbia Records.
Thank you VAI! Hip Hip Hooray!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Low production values. Marx is neither funny nor otherwise entertaining; he's just annoying. The 1987 Eric Idle version is far better.Published 2 months ago by GOM6
Pretty good quality, especially since the material is unavailable anywhere else. Groucho plays his part well, which is not surprising, especially since he loved Gilbert and... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Amazon Customer
Another odd pairing that works well -- Groucho Marx and Gilbert and Sullivan. An outstanding cast (Holloway, Traubel, King, Rounseville is the icing on the... Read morePublished 9 months ago by Eric White
I wish I read the descriptions to see if this were in color or in black and white. While I enjoyed watching this, I would have enjoyed it more if I could see the stunning scenery... Read morePublished 12 months ago by S. Forbes
Groucho is fabulous as Koko, especially when interacting with Helen Traubel playing Katisha. Groucho is certainly not pitch perfect, but his singing is fine and his antics are... Read morePublished 13 months ago by John of Door County
It's a very truncated Mikado (edited, however, under the guidance of the great Martyn Green), and Groucho is a somewhat uneven Ko-ko, but it's such a pleasure to see him obviously... Read morePublished 15 months ago by J. C. Robinson
I missed seeing this when it wasfirst broadcast, being away at college with limited access to a television. I'd heard that it wasn't very good, except for Helen Traubel's Katisha. Read morePublished 15 months ago by Phyllis A. Karr
Too much fun to see Groucho especially when he was creeping up on Katisha.Published 16 months ago by Judith Etheridge