The operettas of Gilbert & Sullivan are probably best taken on in infancy – and, in fact, generations of fans have done just that since their incarnation in the late 19th century, thereby becoming an integral part of the Brit and (post) colonial culture alike. Often initially discovered via school and amateur productions, the Savoy operas are either loved or loathed. Of course, back in the 1980s attempts to clue in a younger audience were made by including pop singers who could sing the music in productions of the most popular titles including HMS Pinafore, The Pirates of Penzance and The Mikado.

The female ensemble. Photograph © Soda Street Productions

This praised production of The Mikadowas initially mounted in 2011 in Queensland and has gone on to continued success interstate and in New Zealand. While State Opera South Australia’s cast is all about creating an ensemble, it is ensemble casting at its best. Artistic Director Stuart Maunder has ingeniously updated this perennial favourite to the age of Britney Spears and Taylor Swift complete with pink hair, chunky shoes and stylised athletic gear whilst keeping the often barbed criticism of W.S. Gilbert –...

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