Essgee's The Mikado
Essgee's The Mikado
Apply for:
  • Share This Show

What’s a boy to do when his father insists he marry an older woman? Flee the kingdom and take on a new identity, of course! This is exactly what happens to the Japanese emperor’s son, who arrives in the unassuming town of Titipu disguised as a street musician. He falls for the local villager Yum-Yum, but she’s already betrothed. What follows is a comedy of errors as the men compete for their beloved Yum-Yum. The Mikado has charmed countless audiences since its 1885 debut, and this reimagining of Gilbert & Sullivan’s most popular operetta (with a 1960s pop chorus to boot!) will seduce the eye, charm the ear, and tickle the rib.


Our story begins in the town of Titipu in Japan where, having introduced themselves, Japanese nobles meet a wandering minstrel named Nanki-Poo. He tells them of his love for Yum-Yum, whom he first saw as he was playing in the Titipu town band. Yum-Yum was engaged to Ko-Ko, a cut price tailor, but he has been sentenced to death for flirting, so Nanki-Poo returns to find his beloved Yum-Yum and marry her.

The death sentence for flirting is the idea of the bloodthirsty ruler of Japan, the Mikado. The gentlemen of Titipu decide to get round this law by creating Ko-Ko Lord High Executioner on the grounds that he is then unlikely to execute himself. All the senior Titipu civil servants resign in protest at these shenanigans, only to find that the ambitious Pooh-Bah snaps up all their jobs, salaries, and perks to become Lord High Everything Else.

Ko-Ko is set to marry Yum-Yum, who arrives with her girl friends, Pitti Sing, Peep-bo, and Yo-Ko— three little maids from school. When Yum-Yum sees the handsome Nanki-Poo, she is overjoyed since she does not love Ko-Ko, but duty makes her reluctantly realise that her wedding with the recently ennobled cheap tailor must take place.

Then a crisis hits the town. The Mikado is coming to visit Titipu to check that his savage law has been carried out. Since Nanki-Poo has decided to kill himself because he cannot marry Yum-Yum, Ko-Ko convinces him to become the necessary victim the Mikado wants to have executed. Nanki-Poo agrees on the condition: that he weds Yum-Yum and they enjoy a month's married bliss before he gets the chop— after which, Ko-Ko can marry her.

This seems to fit the bill, and everyone rejoices until another crisis descends in the frightening person of Katisha, an aristocratic older lady who was engaged to Nanki-Poo before he fled the court, unable to face marrying her. She tries to reveal Nanki-Poo's identity as the son of the Mikado and heir to the Japanese throne, but the local people refuse to listen to her, and she storms off vowing revenge.

On Yum-Yum's wedding day, Ko-Ko brings news that due to another cruel law, the wife of a beheaded man must be buried alive, a fate Yum-Yum does not relish on account of its stuffiness. Pooh-Bah and Ko-Ko decide that the only solution is to do a snow job on the Mikado. They will let Yum-Yum and Nanki-Poo get married, pack them off abroad on a honeymoon, then draw up false documents and lie to the Mikado about the execution.

Accompanied by Katisha, the Mikado arrives and is informed by Ko-Ko, Pooh-Bah, and Pitti-Sing of the alleged execution of Nanki-Poo. The deceit boomerangs, however, since yet another crazy Japanese law insists that no matter how ignorant of their actions, everyone remotely associated with the death of the heir apparent must be boiled alive. Since the bloodthirsty and husband-hungry Katisha is keen to see the plotters killed, the only solution seems to be for someone to marry Katisha as quickly as possible, then get her to beg the Mikado for mercy. Ko-Ko draws the short straw and marries the dragon lady.

When Nanki-Poo and his wife appear, there is a lot of complicated explaining to be done. Fortunately, by a justification even crazier than the fictitious laws of the stage Japan, Ko-Ko manages to placate the Mikado, and with laughing song and merry dance, everyone lives happily ever after.


An unfolding caravan of delights.

–The Sydney Morning Herald


  1. If You Want to Know Who We Are
  2. A Wand'ring Minstrel, I
  3. Our Great Mikado, Virtuous Man
  4. Young Man, Despair
  5. And I Have Journeyed For A Month
  6. Behold The Lord High Executioner
  7. As Some Day It May Happen
  8. Three Little Maids From School Are We
  9. So Please You, Sir, We Much Regret
  10. Were You Not To Ko-Ko Plighted
  11. I Am So Proud
  12. Finale of Act I
  13. Braid The Raven Hair
  14. The Sun Whose Rays Are All Ablaze
  15. Here's A How-De-Do
  16. Mi-Ya Sa-Ma
  17. A More Humane Mikado
  18. The Criminal Cried As He Dropped Him Down
  19. The Flowers That Bloom In The Spring
  20. Alone and Yet Alive
  21. Willow, Tit-Willow
  22. There Is Beauty In The Bellow Of The Blast
  23. For He's Gone And Married Yum-Yum
  24. Finale of Act 2, 1885
  25. Finale 1996 Company


Pish-Tush – A warrior.

Nanki-Poo – A wandering minstrel.

Pooh-Bah – Lord High Everything Else.

Ko-Ko – Lord High Executioner of Titipu.

Yum-Yum – Ward of Ko-Ko.

Pitti Sing, Peep Bo, and Yo-Ko – The Three Little Maids.

Sisters to Yum-Yum and Wards of Ko-Ko – The Fabulous Singlettes.

Katisha – A mature lady.

The Mikado of Japan


Willaim Schwenck Gilbert: (18 November 1836 – 29 May 1911)

William Schwenck— a name he loathed— Gilbert was born to a family of comfortable means in a house a few hundred yards from the site of the Savoy Theatre, which was later to become the centre of a cult whose merry devotees to this day describe themselves with pride as Savoyards. Aged two, he was kidnapped in Naples by brigands and ransomed for twenty-five pounds. This Gilbertian event he was to use years later in the plots of H.M.S. Pinafore and The Gondoliers. Frustrated and less than successful as a barrister, Gilbert invented a world of 'Topsyturvydom... where right is wrong and wrong is right, where white is black and black is white,' a world that first appeared in print as the whimsical and nonsensical poems that constituted Bab Ballads (1869) and from 1871 onwards as the evergreen Savoy operas, starting with Thespis and finishing with The Grand Duke in 1896.

An established comic playwright who reveled in artificial plots and good, clean, Victorian fun, Gilbert was an important figure in the history of the English stage because he was the first director ('stage manager' in late nineteenth-century parlance) to put his stamp on texts and productions. He insisted on the importance of rehearsals for the whole company and supervised in detail every aspect of design, costume, choreography, and lighting. With composer Arthur Sullivan, and the brilliant entrepreneur Richard D'Oyly Carte— the Cameron Macintosh of his day— Gilbert became part of England's most important operetta triumvirate, was recognised as being the foremost librettist of his century, and is acknowledged as such by his pupils and successors Lorenz Hart, Alan Jay Lerner, and Stephen Sondheim. WSG was also a quarrelsome and dictatorial tyrant who never for a moment doubted his own genius and who, as he grew older, took to suing those who crossed him.

He was knighted in May 1907 and lived in comfortable retirement in his Harrow mansion, Grim's Dyke. He was drowned in his private lake while trying to assist a young lady in difficulty. His commemorative plaque on London's Embankment carries the aptly epigrammatic epitaph, 'His foe was folly, and his weapon, wit'.

Arthur Seymour Sullivan: (13 May 1842 – 22 November 1900)

Born in Lambeth, the son of an orchestra musician, Sullivan taught himself piano at five and composed his first anthem, By the Waters of Babylon, aged eight. At twelve, he published his first sacred song, "O Israel." He studied at the Royal Academy of Music and later in Leipzig, where he met Liszt, Schumann, and Greig. The darling of London musical society, Sullivan was feted by the famous soprano Jenny Lind, taken to Paris by Charles Dickens, and pressed (in vain) by Lewis Carroll to set Alice In Wonderland to music. His parlour ballads, sacred songs ("Onward Christian Soldiers" and "The Lost Chord" being his most famous), oratorios, and overtures made him a household name in England and a favourite of Queen Victoria. He was knighted in 1883 at the age of 41. This newfound honour was not without its problems. The Musical Review spoke for the world of serious music when it observed that 'something Mr Arthur Sullivan may have done, Sir Arthur ought not to do.' Not surprisingly, he increasingly came to regard his light music collaboration with Gilbert as a frivolous diversion from his more noble vocation as a serious composer. His one opera, Ivanhoe, though now forgotten, holds the record for the longest single run (155 performances) of any opera in England.

Unlike the militarily disciplined Gilbert, Sullivan was more 'artistic' in temperament, preferring the world of supper parties, royal shoulder-rubbing, and European gallivanting and gambling, not least in Monte Carlo. Plagued by ill health, he constantly worked against the clock to complete songs for rehearsals. Indeed, often as opening night approached, he was so late— and sick— that he would send only outlines for overtures, leaving them to be constructed by his musical director, Francois Cellier. The completed score of The Pirates of Penzance did not appear until four days before opening night, and when he approached the podium to conduct, he recorded that he took up the baton 'more dead than alive.'

He is buried in the crypt of St Paul's Cathedral, London. His plaque in Savoy Gardens, London bears the inscription suggested by Gilbert, from The Yeomen of the Guard:

Is life a boon?

If so it must befall

That Death whene'er he call

Must call too soon! 

Simon Gallaher/Essgee Entertainment created an exciting new version of the classic The Pirates of Penzance in 1994, which became an immediate runaway hit throughout Australia and New Zealand. ABC-TV broadcast the production nationally at the conclusion of the Australian tour, and the video quickly attained Triple Platinum sales as the highest-selling live musical theatre video of all time. Essgee followed up their massive hit with The Mikado in 1995, followed shortly thereafter by H.M.S. Pinafore, the final in the Essgee Musical Trilogy. Essgee now licenses productions of their Gilbert & Sullivan trilogy of shows to companies and theatre societies across the world. Through special arrangements with David Spicer Productions in Australia, Steele Spring Stage Rights is proud to represent the Essgee Musical Trilogy in the US and Canada.

Essgee’s The Mikado, Gilbert and Sullivan for the 21st Century, presented by arrangement with Steele Spring Stage Rights, on behalf of David Spicer Productions, representing Simon Gallaher and Essgee Entertainment.

Performance Royalties are based on theater particulars. Please fill out an application for a personalized quote. 

Billing responsibilities, pertinent copyright information, and playwrights' biographies are available in the show rider that comes with your license agreement. To download the show rider for Essgee's The Mikado, click here.

"No praise could be too excessive." –The Australian

Materials: Your materials will be sent to you two months prior to your opening date and will include everything necessary for your production. They can be ordered in Printed or Digital format. Printed Materials are provided on unbound three-hole punched loose-leaf paper while Digital Materials are provided via email as downloadable PDF files for you to print in-house. All materials are yours to keep! No deposits, no returns.

The Authorized Materials/Rehearsal Package for Essgee’s The Mikado includes: 

  • Production Scripts
  • Piano/Vocal Scores
  • Piano
  • Keyboard 1
  • Keyboard 2
  • Keyboard 3
  • Bass
  • Percussion 1
  • Percussion 2
Official Logo Pack Now Included! To help you promote your show, Stage Rights now includes a logo pack with your license. The logo pack includes high resolution versions (both color and black and white) of our show logo. The logo is the portion of the artwork with the title of the show. The surrounding artwork is also available for an additional fee.
Optional Materials: 
  • Stage Manager’s Script – Printed on standard 8.5” x 11” 3-hole-punched paper, with the same page numbers and text as the Production Scripts, but with more space on the page for notes and cues.