The recent Seattle Gilbert and Sullivan Society production of Mikado was largely blasted by the Asian American community, but as Minnesota’s Mu Performing Arts has shown, it’s possible to present the Mikado without using white actors in yellowface and portraying Asians as exotic Orientals.
Skylark Opera had approached Mu Performing Arts about collaborating in a joint production. The theater was aware of Mikado’s history and was stunned it was even asked to get involved.
Rick Shiomi who directed the Mu presentation wrote in the Seattle Times about his initial reaction to steer clear of the production and about how he ultimately decided to alter the play .
“After I recovered from the shock of Skylark Opera’s offer, I realized that if Mu Performing Arts rejected the proposal, Skylark would simply go ahead and do the piece anyway,” wrote Shiomi. “So I made a counterproposal to Skylark: Mu would collaborate if I would be allowed to create some alternative interpretation of it. To its credit, Skylark agreed.”
You can read about the changes Shiomi made in the production and how both Skylark and the audience reacted in the Seattle Times.