The Mikado   (Groucho Marx, Helen Traubel)    (VAI 4554)
Item# DVD0680
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Product Description

The Mikado   (Groucho Marx, Helen Traubel)    (VAI 4554)
DVD0680. THE MIKADO, w.Voorhees Cond. Bell Telephone Orch. & Norman Luboff Choir; Groucho Marx, Helen Traubel, Stanley Holloway, Dennis King, Robert Rounseville, Barbara Meister, etc. VAI 4554, from 29 April, 1960 Telecast. - 089948455493


“Groucho Marx as Ko-Ko in THE MIKADO? It sounds like perfection. He incessantly learned the words to many of the patter songs, and loved to sing them….His partner…is Helen Traubel, who although not posessing a true contralto voice, wins us over with her strong singing….Stanley Holloway [is] an excellent Pooh-Bah….Barbara Meister is a fine Yum-Yum, and Robert Rounseville was an exceedingly good Nanki-Poo. Melinda Marx, Groucho’s daughter, was the Peep-Bo.Groucho’s costume was a direct replica of the costume designed for Henry Lytton in 1926, and later Martyn Green, who wore a variant of it in the 1938 British film of THE MIKADO. The one thing that was retained was Groucho’s New York accent, which proved very exciting after seeing so many Brits as Ko-Ko!”

Richard Traubner, AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE, Nov./Dec., 2012

"It’s not generally known that Groucho Marx, that king of comic chaos, had an absolute passion for the precise, Victorian-era comic operas of Gilbert and Sullivan. In fact, a self-proclaimed highlight of Groucho’s long career came when he played the role of Ko-Ko in THE MIKADO, a 1960 Bell Telephone Hour TV production.

Family and friends say that Groucho’s devotion to the British composer-librettist duo’s work bordered on an obsession, and his uncharacteristic casting in the hour-long TV production 'fulfilled a lifelong ambition'.

The 1885 opera, a thinly disguised satire on English bureaucracy, focuses on 'cheap tailor' Ko-Ko, who is promoted to the lofty position of Lord High Executioner in the town of Titipu and constructs an elaborate ruse involving the Emperor’s lovesick son and his lovely ward Yum-Yum.

For the Bell Telephone Hour’s 60-minute format (minus time for commercials), the original score had to be tightly condensed by Gilbert and Sullivan expert Martyn Green. The cast studio recording (which differs from the TV soundtrack) has been available on audio since 1960, but this DVD marks the first time the video has been released for public consumption.

For his operatic début, Groucho was surrounded by a top-flight cast, including Helen Traubel as Katisha, Stanley Holloway as Pooh-Bah, British actor Dennis King as The Mikado, Barbara Meister as Yum-Yum, Sharon Randall as Pitti-Sing, and Melinda Marx (Groucho’s 13-year-old daughter) as Peep-Bo."

- Dennis King,, 4 June, 2012

"For the legendary comic actor Groucho Marx, playing the role of Ko-Ko in THE MIKADO 'fulfilled a lifelong ambition'. THE MIKADO was Groucho’s favorite among the works of his beloved Gilbert and Sullivan, and the 1960 Bell Telephone Hour production was adapted for television and directed by Martyn Green, a man Groucho revered as an authority on interpreting the rôle of Ko-Ko. The strong supporting cast features distinguished veterans like Helen Traubel, Stanley Holloway, Robert Rounseville, and Dennis King, as well as young artists like the lovely soprano Barbara Meister as Yum-Yum and Groucho’s 13-year-old daughter, Melinda, as Peep-Bo.

Special features [46 minutes] include audio interviews with Dick Cavett, Melinda Marx, and Barbara Meister; Martyn Green in excerpts from H.M.S. PINAFORE (Bell Telephone Hour, 1963, in color), cast bios, the commercials from the original telecast, and more!"

- Loyal Bluto