Bits & Bytes
G&S Society opens sparkling Mikado, Mitzi Gaynor headlines SF Castro tribute
by Milton W. Hamlin - SGN A&E Writer

The Seattle Gilbert & Sullivan Society offers G&S's immortal The Mikado to celebrate the group's 54th season. The spirited satire opened last night, too late to review in this week's SGN, but it has "hit" written all over it. The world respected Emerald City G&S troupe uses a cast of 36 performers, an orchestra of 27 musicians and about two zillion hokey comic moments.

Written in 1885, the ninth collaboration of G&S, the show has never fallen out of favor. Topical updates, a tradition dating back to the original production, keep the show lively and the satire topical and spirited. One major change in this new production is the casting of longtime Seattle favorite Dave Ross as the title character, not the male lead he has played many times. Should be a fun variation.

The Mikado continues through July 26 with weekend performances, including three incredibly popular Saturday matinees and three Family Night, with reduced prices for family appeal. Tickets and complete performance information at (206) 341-9612 or at (one of the cleverest website puns this scribe has ever seen). Check it out. And, yeah, go ahead and tell 'em Bits&Bytes told you to call.

Mitzi Gaynor, Hollywood musical star of the 1950s, gets a big Gay welcome at the upcoming career tribute at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco. The July 25 event, one of an ongoing series of Hollywood Legends Live and In Person at the Castro, is organized and hosted by Marc Huestis, producer, who has found his calling in these nostalgia fests and feats.

Gaynor, who starred in the problematic Hollywood version of Rodgers & Hammerstein's immortal South Pacific, will participate in an onstage tribute, a chatty interview with Gay comic/writer Bruce Vilanch, and questions from the crowd. Her 1975 Emmy-winning TV special, Mitzi...and 100 Guys, will be screened after the 8 p.m. onstage appearance. Following that, a reel of film clips from her Hollywood heyday will end the evening.

Tickets for the Castro Theatre event are $27.50 and the series usually sells out weeks in advance  plan ahead. The evening starts with a option VIP meet-and-greet cocktail party at the theater at 6 p.m. Tickets for the VIP reception and the screening are $60 and "always sell out." Information and tickets are available at (415) 863-0611.

Seattle fans of the talented musical star have fond memories of her headline the touring edition of the Lincoln Center revival of Cole Porter's Anything Goes at the Paramount many years ago. Gaynor made few live appearances in her career, but her Reno Sweeny was a topnotch outing for the talented, probably underrated star.

Gaynor, who now admits to being 76, asked the producers of the touring edition if Reno's quartet of angels, who join the star in "Blow, Gabriel, Blow" and other Porter classics, could be cast as male angels, a casting concept that had never been considered. It seems that the glamorous and "ever-young" Gaynor never appears next to young women on stage, in films or TV appearances. Worked beautifully and made her seem "Younger Than Springtime" indeed.