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NYGASP Cancel Production of THE MIKADO; Regret 'Missed Opportunity' to Adapt

An etching of W. S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan

When W. S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan's THE MIKADO premiered at The Savoy Theatre in 1885, it was a time when trade had recently opened up between the two island empires of Great Britain and Japan, and Japanese culture quickly became an obsession among the British people. THE MIKADO's setting, the fictional Japanese town of Titipu, may have been an attempt by the composers to hop on the cultural bandwagon of the time.

As BroadwayWorld's Michael Dale wrote in his column yesterday titled, "Is It Time to Rewrite THE MIKADO?" (click here to read in full) "It's unlikely that Gilbert had meant THE MIKADO to be taken as a serious attack on insensitive white people appropriating another culture for their own entertainment. He was more concerned with lightheartedly satirizing his countrymen's foibles."

As was recently reported, New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players had announced their production of THE MIKADO, scheduled for the NYU Skirball Center for Performing Arts this holiday season. Today, in a post on their official Facebook page, the New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players have announced the cancellation of their production of THE MIKADO and replaced it with THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE. They explain, "NYGASP never intended to give offense and the company regrets the missed opportunity to responsively adapt this December."

The full announcement follows:

New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players announces that the production of The Mikado, planned for December 26, 2015- January 2, 2016, is cancelled. We are pleased to announce that The Pirates of Penzance will run in it's place for 6 performances over the same dates.

NYGASP never intended to give offense and the company regrets the missed opportunity to responsively adapt this December. Our patrons can be sure we will contact them as soon as we are able, and answer any questions they may have.

We will now look to the future, focusing on how we can affect a production that is imaginative, smart, loyal to Gilbert and Sullivan's beautiful words, music, and story, and that eliminates elements of performance practice that are offensive.

Thanks to all for the constructive criticism. We sincerely hope that the living legacy of Gilbert & Sullivan remains a source of joy for many generations to come.

David Wannen
Executive Director
New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players

In his feature, Dale suggests, "THE MIKADO has one of the funniest librettos ever written in the English language and surprisingly little of it depends on a Japanese setting... For 40 years the New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players have made valuable contributions to our city's performing arts scene. Keeping the D'Oyly Carte style of Gilbert & Sullivan alive and vibrant is absolutely a worthy artistic mission and it can be used in every other one of the pair's glorious works. But with THE MIKADO... The time has come to find more effective ways to respect both the material and contemporary realities."

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