by Gilbert and Sullivan, adapted for young performers by Bartlett-Billings-Leehy-O’Mara.
Duration: 60 minutes. 10 principals. Provisions for choruses of Japanese villagers, nobles and guards. 1 or 2 basic sets.
Written to suit performers from middle primary to early secondary.
Minstrel comes to Titipu looking for his true love, only to find that she is to marry Ko-Ko, The Lord High Executioner (and the runner of local scams). Suddenly – the town learns of an imminent visit from the Mikado. Something funny is going on here …
ROYALTY PAYMENTS: 12% of gross takings, with a minimum of $150 per performance + GST. Click here to learn more about performance royalties.
Before the story
NANKI-POO is the son of the MIKADO (Emperor of Japan). When faced with having to marry the Noblewoman KATISHA, he runs away to the little town of Titipu, disguised as a wandering minstrel. There he meets and falls in love with YUM-YUM, only to find that she is betrothed to KO-KO, a cheap tailor. He leaves in dejection.
KO-KO is thrown into jail for flirting (a capital offence) and is awaiting execution.
The townsfolk are worried that the new anti- flirting rule will eventually affect all – young and old alike! What to do?
The NOBLES let KO-KO out of jail and promote him to the rank of Lord High Executioner. Now … as his name is the next on the list for execution (and as he is the executioner) he cannot execute anyone else in the town until he has executed himself first.
However, not many NOBLES like KO-KO and all the Officials resign rather than serve under an ex-tailor. This leaves the way clear for an unscrupulous Noble, POOH-BAH, to take on all the top positions (and the attached salaries). He becomes the Lord High Everything Else.
It is a year later. NANKI-POO has learned that KO-KO is in jail awaiting execution (but hasn’t learned that he has subsequently been released and promoted). He hurries back to Titipu, still disguised as a musician to claim YUM-YUM.
He learns that KO-KO is now Lord High Executioner and that YUM-YUM finishes school that very day and is returning to marry KO-KO.
As KO-KO is organising the wedding with POOH-BAH (and trying to wrangle money from the Treasury to fund it) YUM-YUM arrives with her schoolgirl friends PEEP-BO and PITTI-SING. NANKI-POO enters, sees YUM-YUM and declares his love for her to KO-KO … who dismisses him with unconcern.
Alone, NANKI-POO tells YUM-YUM who he really is and why he ran away from the Imperial Court.
Meanwhile, POOH-BAH has received a letter from the MIKADO. The letter states that no executions have taken place for a year and that KO-KO has one month to change the situation – or else the post of Lord High Executioner will be abolished and the town reduced to the rank of Village. KO-KO needs to find a substitute or he shall have to execute himself.
Enter NANKI-POO, carrying a rope and intent, since he can’t have YUM-YUM, to hang himself. A conniving KO-KO asks him to submit to public execution instead. NANKI-POO agrees – on condition that he gets to marry YUM-YUM and spend one month with her. KO-KO reluctantly agrees, as he will still be able to marry YUM-YUM after the execution.
All prepare for the wedding of NANKI-POO and KO-KO – but during the celebratory chorus, KATISHA arrives to give a warning to the audience that she wants revenge.
YUM-YUM is being prepared for the wedding, but her bridesmaids are in tears because her husband has only a month to live. But NANKI-POO is happy.
KO-KO learns that, under Japanese law, when a man is executed, his wife must be buried alive with him. This dampens YUM-YUM’s enthusiasm for the coming wedding.
Then – to make matters worse, KO-KO learns that the MIKADO is arriving in ten minutes. NANKI-POO realises that he cannot marry YUM-YUM, as it will mean she will be buried alive. Yet he cannot bear to live without her. So he instructs KO-KO to carry out the execution immediately. KO-KO is horrified and extremely squeamish.
But he has an idea: why not get KO-KO and YUM-YUM to marry and disappear immediately? Then fake an execution certificate and present it to the MIKADO!
The MIKADO arrives with his troops, a haughty, angry KATISHA with him.
KO-KO presents the certificate – only to find that the purpose of the visit is not to check up on KO-KO … but to locate his missing son, NANKI-POO.
When KATISHA sees NANKI-POO’s name on the execution certificate she is horrified. The MIKADO, however, is not as concerned. He feels that if his son is to run off, disguised as a musician, he deservers whatever he gets.
However … there is a hideous punishment for causing the death of the Heir to the Throne … and, unfortunately, the law being the law, KO-KO, POOH-BAH and PITTI-SING are condemned to death – to be carried out immediately after luncheon. The MIKADO & Co retire to dine.
NANKI-POO and YUM-YUM enter, about to leave for their honeymoon. KO-KO explains the situation and begs him to stay. But NANKI-POO points out that he is now married and that if KATISHA finds out she will insist on his execution – and that means that YUM-YUM will be buried alive!
NANKI-POO has a suggestion: if KO-KO persuades KATISHA to marry him, she will forget about NANKI- POO. So KO-KO woos and marries KATISHA.
After lunch, the MIKADO is ready for the executions. KATISHA explains that she has married KO-KO and pleads mercy for her new husband. But the MIKADO is troubled – the hier-apparent has been slain and the law is the law. Just in time, NANKI-POO arrives to show that the heir-apparent is indeed very much alive.
All seems well – except for the fact that KO-KO has … lied to the MIKADO about the execution of NANKI- POO. However, as KO-KO explains:
When your Majesty says, “Let a thing be done,” it’s as good as done – because your Majesty’s will is law. If Your Majesty says, “Kill a gentleman,” that gentleman is as good as dead – practically, he is dead – and if he is dead … why not say so?
The MIKADO is satisfied with the explanation and everyone is happy.