You can only see high schools do this with robes and sandals and fans so many times. They established the consequences of the settings very cleverly.
That said, the only thing I could think the entire opening credits was "NONE OF THESE PEOPLE LOOK JAPANESE. THAT'S KIND OF A REQUIREMENT."
Edward Gorey designed some costumes that combined Japanese and Victorian English elements to nice effect:
Also, I'd seen a Los Angeles production of this Mikado with Dudley Moore in for Eric Idle. He wasn't bad at all.
Idle's "digging a grave" dance is still my favorite bit.
I guess this is better than my planned version where everyone wears a bathrobe and a crude helmet fashioned from a plastic mopbucket.
I've never seen Mikado before, and only heard very little about it. But watching this, it seems like this is an amazingly subversive piece of work for having been originally made in the late 1880s; even taking into consideration the original Japanese costumes and such.
The patter song (I've got a little list) is traditionally reworked to be as topical as possible. The book lyrics deliberately leave pauses for the insertion of hack politicians' names (some productions don't "get" this intention on the behalf of Gilbert and sing the fake-out names). The play itself is actually some of the most subversive commentary on the British aristocracy possible for the time, and the setting of Japan actually made it work without pissing too many people off.
One of the great legends of theater involves American troops hijacking the Japanese imperial wardrobe following the war and staging their own version in the imperial palace, which might be one of the more culturally offensive things we've ever done, but, hey, Rape of Nanking makes it look rather trivial, eh?
The original Japanese setting/costumes allowed the libretto to be even more critical of English society and politics than previous G&S operas.
I don't know that I get the point of making it all "english-looking."
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