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The Mikado Plot Synopsis

Before the show starts:

Nanki-Poo, son of the Mikado, has fled his father’s court, after being told he had to marry Katisha, an older, unattractive lady of the court. Disguising himself as a wandering minstrel, he comes to the town of Titipu, where he meets Yum-Yum, Ko-Ko’s ward. They fall in love, but as she is engaged to Ko-Ko, he leaves.

Act 1

Scene 1: The nobles of the town of Titipu discuss being a gentleman of Japan.

“We are Gentlemen of Japan” - Nobles

Scene 2: Nanki-Poo arrives back in Titipu, having heard that Ko-Ko has been condemned to death for flirting. He asks a noble where he can find Yum-Yum. They ask him why he wants to know and he explains that as she is no longer engaged to Ko-Ko, he hopes to marry her.

"A Wand'ring Minstrel, I" - Nanki-Poo, Pish-Tush, Nobles

Pish-Tush explains that Ko-Ko is no longer in jail, but has been reprieved and raised to the position of Lord High Executioner.

“The Great Mikado” – Pish-Tush, Nobles

Scene 3: Nanki-Poo is shocked to hear that Ko-Ko has been given the highest office in town. Pooh-Bah informs him that it is worse than that; Ko-Ko is also going to marry Yum-Yum that very afternoon.

“Young Man, Despair!” – Pooh-Bah, Pish-Tush, Go-To, Nanki-Poo

Scene 4: Ko-Ko enters and ponders how he became the Lord High Executioner.

“Behold the Lord High Executioner” – Nobles, Ko-Ko

He then tells the nobles of the town that if he ever has to execute someone he has a list of possible victims.

“As Someday it May Happen” – Ko-Ko, Nobles

Scene 5: Ko-Ko and Pooh-Bah discuss the cost of the upcoming wedding. Pooh-Bah, holding every other major office in town, gives Ko-Ko conflicting advice based on his different positions, but says he might be able to get all of his duties to agree on the amount to be spent if he is given a considerable bribe. Ko-Ko says he will think about it.

Scene 6: Pish-Tush enters, bringing the schoolgirls home from school.

“Comes a Train of Little Ladies” – Schoolgirls, Yum-Yum, Pitti-Sing, Peep-Bo

Yum-Yum, Pitti-Sing, and Peep-Bo sing about being Japanese maidens.

“Three Little Maids” – Yum-Yum, Pitti-Sing, Peep-Bo, Schoolgirls

Ko-Ko goes to Yum-Yum and asks for a kiss. She isn’t very enthusiastic, but finally allows him to kiss her on the cheek. At this, Nanki-Poo reveals himself to Yum-Yum. She is delighted to see him; Ko-Ko is not so delighted, especially when Nanki-Poo explains he loves Yum-Yum. Ko-Ko has the nobles remove Nanki-Poo.

Scenes 7-8: Pitti-Sing becomes interested in Pooh-Bah. The schoolgirls, and even Pish-Tush, make fun of him for being so haughty.

“So Please, Sir, We Much Regret” – Schoolgirls, Pish-Tush, Pooh-Bah

Scene 9: All exit except Yum-Yum, who is stopped by Nanki-Poo after he has gotten away from the nobles. They discuss how much they would love and adore each other if it wasn’t for her engagement to Ko-Ko. Eventually, they leave sadly, in opposite directions.

"Were You Not to Ko-Ko Plighted" - Nanki-Poo, Yum-Yum

Scene 10: Ko-Ko enters and soliloquizes about his love for Yum-Yum. He is interrupted by Pish-Tush and Pooh-Bah who bring him a letter from the Mikado. The Mikado is displeased that there have been no executions for over a year, and if someone isn’t executed within the month, the post of the Lord High Executioner will be abolished and the town reduced in rank to that of a village. Ko-Ko begins to worry about whom to execute. Pish-Tush and Pooh-Bah suggest that, as Ko-Ko is already under a death sentence, the logical person is himself, unless he can find a substitute. Ko-Ko happily appoints Pooh-Bah the Lord High Substitute, but Pooh-Bah declines, citing the fact that it would be too prideful of him to accept that position.

“I am so Proud” – Pooh-Bah, Ko-Ko, Pish-Tush

Scene 11: Pooh-Bah and Pish-Tush exit, and Ko-Ko laments that he will have to kill himself. As he’s speaking, Nanki-Poo enters, planning on hanging himself, since he can’t marry Yum-Yum. Ko-Ko decides Nanki-Poo would make a wonderful substitute for the execution, since he’s planning on killing himself anyway. Nanki-Poo agrees, if he can marry Yum-Yum for a month and then be executed. Ko-Ko, seeing no other option, reluctantly agrees that he can postpone his marriage to her for a month until after the execution.

Scenes 12-14: The rest of the town enters to discover what Ko-Ko has decided to do. Yum-Yum is delighted to discover she gets to marry Nanki-Poo. Ko-Ko leaves, broken-hearted. As the town is celebrating, Katisha enters. She has discovered that Nanki-Poo is in Titipu and has come to claim him as her bridegroom. Pitti-Sing and Yum-Yum stir up the townspeople to keep her from being able to accomplish her goal. She leaves, threatening to return with the Mikado.

“Act I Finale” – Full Cast

Act 2

Scene 1: Pitti-Sing, Pish-Tush and the other girls give Yum-Yum advice for her wedding.

“Braid the Raven Hair” – Pitti-Sing, Pish-Tush, Peep-Bo, Schoolgirls

Scene 2: Yum-Yum reflects that she’s the luckiest girl in Japan, since she’s marrying Nanki-Poo and is the prettiest girl in town.

“The Sun Whose Rays” – Yum-Yum

Peep-Bo is annoyed at her self-centered attitude, so she reminds Yum-Yum that her husband has to die in a month. Yum-Yum begins to cry.

Scene 3: Nanki-Poo enters with Pish-Tush and asks why Yum-Yum is crying. Her sister confesses that she was reminding her of his impending death. He says that there’s nothing to be sad about, as time is relative. The women try to cheer up, but end up sobbing. Pish-Tush, Peep-Bo, and Pitti-Sing exit in tears.

Scene 4: As Nanki-Poo comforts Yum-Yum, Ko-Ko enters. He tells them that he will never be able to marry Yum-Yum. They are both delighted, until he explains why to them. It turns out that when a man is beheaded, his wife must be buried alive. Yum-Yum assures Nanki-Poo of her love, but points out that she isn’t particularly interested in being buried alive. The three sing about the difficult position they are in.

“Here’s a How-de-do” – Yum-Yum, Nanki-Poo, Ko-Ko

Scene 5: Yum-Yum runs off crying, and Nanki-Poo begins to determine how he will kill himself, since he cannot marry her. Ko-Ko informs him that he must keep his word and be beheaded in a month. At that moment, Pooh-Bah arrives with the news that the Mikado is approaching the city, and that Ko-Ko needs to kill someone immediately. Nanki-Poo agrees to his head being chopped off right then, but Ko-Ko breaks down and confesses he couldn’t even kill a fly. As they try to convince him that he has no choice, he decides to pretend he’s killed Nanki-Poo. He points out that if Nanki-Poo disappears, no one will know whether he truly was killed or not. Pooh-Bah agrees to perjure himself by saying he witnessed the executions upon receipt of a large bribe, but Nanki-Poo does not want to leave town without Yum-Yum. Ko-Ko calls Yum-Yum and tells the two of them to get married and leave quickly before the Mikado arrives.

Scene 6: The townspeople enter, followed by The Mikado and Katisha. The two of them describe the kind of person the Mikado is and the kind of person she is.

“Miya Sama” – Mikado, Katisha, Pish-Tush, Pitti-Sing, Peep-Bo, Nobles, Schoolgirls

The Mikado discusses his system of justice.

“A More Humane Mikado” – Katisha, Mikado, Pish-Tush, Peep-Bo, Nobles, Schoolgirls

Scene 7: Pooh-Bah, Pitti-Sing, and Ko-Ko enter and describe to the Mikado how the execution took place.

“The Criminal Cried” – Ko-Ko, Pitti-Sing, Pooh-Bah, Pish-Tush, Peep-Bo, Nobles, Schoolgirls

The Mikado says it sounds interesting, but he is here concerning his son, Nanki-Poo. At this moment, Katisha notices that the death certificate says that Nanki-Poo has been beheaded. The Mikado assures Ko-Ko, Pitti-Sing, and Pooh-Bah that he’s not angry, and asks if delaying their punishment until after luncheon will suit them.

Scene 8: Katisha and the Mikado sing with Ko-Ko, Pitti-Sing, and Pooh-Bah about how unfair life is.

“See How the Fates” – Katisha, Ko-Ko, Pitti-Sing, Pooh-Bah

Scene 9: Katisha exits, and the others try to figure out how to avoid being boiled in oil. They decide Nanki-Poo must come back to life. He and Yum-Yum enter, but decline to show themselves to the Mikado. Since they are married, Katisha would be angry, so Nanki-Poo would be beheaded, and Yum-Yum would be buried alive. Unless Ko-Ko marries Katisha, they will stay “dead.”

“The Flowers That Bloom in the Spring” – Pitti-Sing, Ko-Ko, Nanki-Poo, Yum-Yum, Pooh-Bah

Scene 10: Katisha enters and sings sadly about losing her lover.

“Alone and Yet Alive” – Katisha

Scene 11: Ko-Ko enters and tries to convince Katisha that he loves her.

“Willow, Tit-Willow” – Ko-Ko

Katisha’s heart is melted by his song, and she agrees to marry him.

“There is Beauty in the Bellow of the Blast” – Katisha and Ko-Ko

Scene 12: The Mikado is ready for Ko-Ko’s, Pitti-Sing’s, and Pooh-Bah’s execution. Katisha arrives and begs for mercy, explaining that she doesn’t want her husband executed. The Mikado says that as the heir is dead, he isn’t inclined to give mercy. At that moment, Nanki-Poo and Yum-Yum arrive and announce that they are married. Katisha starts choking Ko-Ko, realizing she’s been tricked. The Mikado makes her stop, so that he can find out what happened. Ko-Ko explains that planning on doing something that the Mikado commands is substantially the same thing as actually doing it. The Mikado agrees and everyone celebrates the marriages.

“Act 2 Finale” – Full Cast

Director's Note

Whether Gilbert and Sullivan were aware of it or not, The Mikado illustrates an important spiritual principle. The Bible says that it’s rare for people to be willing to die for even a good man. This show is full of people unwilling to die for each other. Jesus, on the other hand, was willing to die for us when we were still sinners. Romans 5:6-8 “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Our prayer for you is that if you have not received the gift Jesus gave you through His death, that you will be spurred to think about His love for you and to receive the love He gives you.

Thank you for attending our show! May God bless you.

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