The production is not lavish, with a single, unadorned set and fairly basic staging. But there are some brilliant effects such as the entrance of the Mikado, enclosed in a litter, which his carriers open to reveal him standing magnificently in a miniature interior. Many of the comic lines have been updated, and with impressive wit. It's too bad that their topicality results in a lot of 1980s Canadian references, which will leave 21st-century non-Canadians feeling left out. Still, this is a highly satisfying interpretation of a classic. --David Olivenbaum
It consists of fine, athletic acting and good singing, with fairly minimal sets. The orchestration has been tarted up, as some have noted, but it's not too bad. Richard MacMillan's entertaining Pooh-Bah sticks in the mind particularly, as does Gidon Saks' maniacal Mikado.
There are a few Canadian references which are fast becoming too topical even for natives of the North: wage and price controls ("six and five"), former Prime Minister Mulroney's pretty wife Mila (left off the little list), and even a brief digital salute to Pierre Trudeau from the irrepressible Pooh-Bah.
The CBC's production values are less than stunning. You get mediocre sound, no libretto, and the same tourist promotion video that is seen on other DVD's in the Stratford set. However, the wit and polish of the performance make up for any deficiencies.
Overall, a very worthwhile buy for anyone except a real sourpuss, and enjoyable even after the twenty fifth viewing.
The stage sets are simple yet effective and do not detract from the performers. Read more