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Hot Mikado

In 1939, Gilbert & Sullivan's operetta, The Mikado, was adapted as an all-black musical. While the original story line was pretty much adhered to, the costumes and some of the dialog were updated to reflect the jive culture of the time. The big star was Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, who played the Mikado himself (the title of the Emperor Of Japan).

The musical was produced by Mike Todd (future husband of Elizabeth Taylor), with elaborate cosumes and sets. Some of the songs were updated to have contemporary (called "topical") lyrics that included references to cigarette chislers, professional wrestlers, Father Divine, and Joe Louis.

The production opened at the Broadhurst Theater on March 23, 1939 and ran for 85 performances before being moved to the Hall Of Music in New York World's Fair at Flushing Meadow Park, where it ran, very successfully, until the Fair closed in 1940. The program reproduced below was from the World's Fair engagement.

Others in the cast (at least by the time it moved to the Worlds' Fair) included Bob Parrish (Nanki-Poo), Maurice Ellis (Poo-Bah), Rose Brown (Katisha), and James A. Lillard (Pish-Tush). There must have been a lot of cast changes, since the photo of Yum-Yum (the love interest) is indentified as Gwendolyn Reyde and Ko-Ko (the Lord High Executioner) as Eddie Green; however neither is in the cast list on page 5.

Of somewhat more interest, the "Quartette" in the program consisted of Travers Crawford, Otho Gains, Harry Lewis, and Elmaurice Miller, who, with the correct spellings of their names (Traverse Crawford, Otha Lee Gaines) were the Delta Rhythm Boys. (Keep in mind that bass Lee Gaines was the idol of Jimmy Ricks, bass of the Ravens.)

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