The production of The Mikado that I saw last night featured references to junk bond salesmen, Saddam Hussein, the Marx Brothers, cell phones, “checkout girls at Rite-Aid perpetually pissed” (special liberties were taken with “I’ve Got a Little List”), and an amusing meta-reference to all of its modern references. I found this patronizing, although most of the audience seemed to like it. The Mikado‘s contemporary relevance ought to be apparent — the “statesmen of a compromising kind”, “happy undeserving A” vs. “wretched meritorious B”, “to let the punishment fit the crime”, etc. — without filching stuff from the newspapers. If not, why put it on? And after all, there are few or no explicit references to British current events of the 1880s and 90s in the originals. I enjoyed the show notwithstanding, because a well-sung Mikado is impossible not to enjoy.
My commentators may now inform me what a curmudgeon I am. I will construe silence as agreement.