In the city of Titipu, the Gentlemen of Japan set the big-band-meets-Japan scene.
Suddenly, Nanki-Poo arrives, asking where he might find Yum-Yum. The men ask who he is,
and he answers, A Wand'ring Minstrel I. We learn that he fell in love with Yum-Yum while
traveling with the Titipu orchestra, and having heard the rumor that her fiancé had been
executed, he has returned to wed her. However, the men inform Nanki-Poo that her fiancé,
Ko-Ko, was actually saved at the last minute and the two are to be married that afternoon
(And the Drums Will Crash). They also explain that Ko-Ko was appointed Lord High Executioner,
so now no one in Titipu can be executed (because Ko-Ko is first on the list).
Ko-Ko himself appears, and sings about the many people he would execute, given the chance
(I've Got A Little List).
Yum-Yum and her two sisters, Pitti-Sing and Peep-Bo, make their way home from school
(Three Little Maids), when they run into Nanki-Poo, who tries to explain his real identity
to Yum-Yum: he is the son of the great Mikado, and heir to the throne, and has run away from
an undesired arranged marriage. They mourn their betrothals, embracing and lamenting,
This Is What I'll Never Do. Ko-Ko enters, having just
received a letter saying he must execute someone within the month or he will lose his job,
and Titipu will be "reduced to the rank of a village." Ko-Ko, Pooh-Bah (the Lord High Everything
Else) and Pish-Tush contemplate who will be sacrificed (I Am So Proud), when Nanki-Poo enters,
about to kill himself for lack of Yum-Yum. Ko-Ko spots an opportunity, and the two strike a
bargain: one month of wedded bliss for Nanki-Poo and Yum-Yum, before he is to be executed.
The town celebrates (Let the Throng Our Joy Advance)
until Nanki-Poo's vengeful fiancé, Katisha, appears (Katisha's Entrance).
Yum-Yum and Katisha are about to quarrel when big sister Pitti-Sing steps
between them and tells her off, For He's Gonna Marry Yum-Yum. Katisha grieves
that "The Hour of Gladness is dead and gone," before attempting to expose Nanki-Poo's
identity to the town. Yum-Yum, privy to his secret, cuts her off and leads the town in
song, drowning her out (Act One Finale).
The act opens with Yum-Yum preparing for her wedding to Nanki-Poo
(Braid the Raven Hair), and she marvels at her own beauty (The Sun & I).
The ensemble enters, decorating for the wedding (Swing A Merry Madrigal).
All is joyous until it is revealed that an executed man's wife must be buried alive,
upon which Yum-Yum begins to rethink the plan (Here's A Howdy Do).
Pooh-Bah announces the Mikado is on his way, so Pooh-Bah hurriedly marries them,
Ko-Ko forges a death certificate for Nanki-Poo to satisfy the Mikado's decree,
and they send the couple to hide. The Mikado arrives (The Mikado Song) - not
to check up on Ko-Ko, but actually to find his son, Nanki-Poo, who is set
to marry Katisha. Ko-Ko tells him that his son has been executed, insisting
that he did not know his identity, so the Mikado cheerfully informs him that he
and his accomplices will be sentenced to death by boiling oil. A panicking
Ko-Ko begs Nanki-Poo to come out of hiding, but he refuses, saying that he will
surely be executed for his marriage to Yum-Yum by the request of Katisha.
She is expressing her sorrow for her deceased fiancé (Alone and Yet Alive) when Ko-Ko
appears, to profess his love for her, and to proclaim that he will die if she does not
marry him (Tit-Willow). She is wooed (Beauty in the Bellow), and begs mercy for Ko-Ko
and his companions. Now that everything has been resolved, Nanki-Poo and Yum-Yum reappear
for a happy ending (Act 2 Finale).
THE MIKADO: Japanese nobility, the "J. Edgar Hoover of Japan."
Carefree and relaxed, he just wants every criminal's punishment to
serve as entertainment, and he loves a good joke. Although his demeanor
is never serious, he is very strict about following the laws of Japan, as
inconvenient as they may be. (Tenor, C3 to G4)
NANKI-POO: The son of the Mikado, and heir to the Japanese throne.
When he was betrothed to Katisha against his will, he ran away and disguised himself
as a (less-than-talented) trumpeter for the Titipu orchestra.
A na•ve hopeless romantic, he will do anything to be with Yum-Yum, even be beheaded.
(Tenor, Eb 3 to C5)
KO-KO: Theatrical, clumsy, and cowardly, he is the most unlikely candidate
for his post of Lord High Executioner. He takes great pride in having power,
but can't actually bring himself to execute anyone. He is Yum-YumÕs fiancé and guardian.
(Tenor, Bb 2 to Eb 4)
POOH-BAH: "Lord High Everything Else," from the Archbishop
of Titipu to the chief of police. He gives matter-of-fact advice
from any of his many points of view, and will say anything (even state secrets)
for a bribe. He is pompous and loves to show off.
(Tenor, A2 to Eb4)
PISH-TUSH: The coolest gentleman of Japan, he knows everything that
is going on and has an opinion on it all. No matter whatÕs happening,
he's in the middle of it.
(Tenor, G3 to B4)
3-6 GENTLEMEN OF JAPAN
PITTI-SING: The oldest of the three little maids.
She is sarcastic at times but always speaks the truth.
She stands up for her sister when Katisha arrives in town.
(Belter, Eb 3 to D5)
YUM-YUM: The sweet, bubbly, middle child. She is betrothed to Ko-Ko but
in love with Nanki-Poo. She is emotional and at times self-absorbed, as
she wonders why she is "more attractive than anybody else in the whole world."
(Soprano, Bb 3 to G5)
PEEP-BO: The sassy, youngest little maid. She has a big voice, but tags along
with her older sisters.
(Alto, B2 to D5)
KATISHA: Nanki-PooÕs "just a teeny weeny wee bit bloodthirsty" bride-to-be.
Although plain of face, she has a striking left shoulder blade, fascinating
right elbow, and stunning right heel. She comes to Titipu to claim her "prey"... er, fiancé.
She is fierce, but quickly won over by Ko-Ko.
(Alto, E2 to B4)
3-6 LADIES OF JAPAN