Warner Bros. presents The Mikado

Reported by Bruce Miller

When Warner Brothers road-showed the 1966 D'Oyly Carte film of The Mikado in the United States, they issued promotional material that included at least two records. These discs were not sold commercially. I have examined two of them; there may be additional examples.

One was a 10 inch, vinyl, single sided 33 1/3 lp record, containing radio advertising spots. The white label, containing black print, reads as follows:

WARNER BROS. | presents | 'THE MIKADO"
[Record number] WB-4281 | STEREO
Created and Prod. by B. G. Charles, Inc.

Five cuts are listed on the label. Cuts 1 through 3 are :60 each; Cut 4 is :30; Cut 5 is :10.

I listened to all of them. Each contains music from the Overture (different portions in each cut). The third cut contains some wild 60's pop music (in the same key as the Overture, which follows this music) with a "hip" announcer, followed by a more sedate one who "apologizes" for the first.

No vocal music is included. The text (a four-page script accompanies the record that almost, but not entirely, accurately reflects what is spoken on the record), identifies this as part of a promotional advertising campaign for the (evidently quite limited) American release of the 1966 D'Oyly Carte film.

Here's the text of the first cut:


"From Warner Bros., the company that launched the actual performance series with Hamlet, La Boheme and Othello comes a brand-new actual performance of the world-famed D'Oyly Carte Opera Company in "The Mikado"...now on the screen in Technicolor. Here is all the music, magic and magnificence of what has been universally acclaimed the most delightful Mikado ever."



Premiere engagements of "THE MIKADO" start at the ________________ theatre March 8 and 9. 4 performances only.


Special engagements of "THE MIKADO " at the ____________________ theatre March 15 and 16. 4 performances only.

The identical tags are found following the other four cuts. This all suggests that Warner Brothers distributed the film on an extremely limited basis, probably only in major art houses and larger cities, for two weeks only. So this company, at least, realized that the D'Oyly Carte film of The Mikado was definitely not for a mass audience.

[Stan DeOrsey reported that the film was shown in Lewiston, Maine, where he lived at the time, for one night only, at the Empire Theater. —ed.]

The 3rd cut is rather amusing and gives us something of a late 60's cultural perspective in the United States:



O.K., you swingers, you movers and groovers, let's get right down to the nitty gritty. You've heard of the Mersey Sound, the Liverpool Sound, well...here's the real London sound. Put together by a couple of swinging cats named Gilbert and Sullivan.


Ladies and Gentlemen, the management of this station and the sponsors of the new motion picture "THE MIKADO", wish to apologize to our listeners for the over-enthusiasm of our local D.J. What he is really trying to say is that Warner Bros. now brings you a brand-new actual performance of the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company in "THE MIKADO"...in Technicolor.

The second record so far examined is a single-sided 45 rpm disc, with a white label similar to that on the lp disc:

WARNER BROS. | presents | "THE MIKADO" |
45 rpm [Record number] WB-4302 | Continuous Play |
Lobby Spot | Created and Prod. by B. G. Charles, Inc.

As the label indicates, theater managers were asked to put this record on a changer that would play it continuously. The idea evidently was to encourage advance sales.

The record consists of two consecutive renditions of the first cut from the lp (see above). At the end is a spoken tag: "For the first time...the full dimension of opera on film. Tickets on sale at this theater now. Four performances only."

Issue History
1966 Warner Bros. 10" Stereo LP WB-4281 See discussion above for differences between these two issues
Single-sided 45rpm WB-4302