MUGSS 1980

The Mikado

or The Town of Titipu
Performed at The Renold Theatre, UMIST


The Mikado of Japan
Maurice White
Nanki-Poo (his Son, disguised as a wandering minstrel and in love with Yum-Yum)
Julian Grammer
Ko-Ko (Lord High Executioner of Titipu)
David Elder
Pooh-Bah (Lord High Everything Else)
David Park
Pish-Tush (a Noble Lord)
Tony Bogod
Yum-Yum (Three Sisters - Wards of Ko-Ko)
Julie Jessop
Pitti-Sing (Three Sisters - Wards of Ko-Ko)
Alison Bastow
Peep-Bo (Three Sisters - Wards of Ko-Ko)
Elizabeth Ward
Katisha (an elderly Lady, in love with Nanki-Poo)
Bernadette Crossman
Chorus of Nobles, Guards and Coolies
Andrew Booth, Stuart Bristow, Richard Cant, Michael Charlesworth, Mike Harris, Anthony Hatton, Mark Higginbotham, John Hymphreys, Andrew Jones, Ken Knight, Colin Price, Antony Royle, Andrew Sutcliffe, Jim Symcox, Andrew Tooms, Joe Zserdicky
Chorus of School Girls
Elizabeth Allan, Denise Burgess, Jennifer Coates, Penny Coleman, Marguerite Dalton, Yasmin Daniels, Roo Gill, Elaine Harris, Sharon Hickson, Hela Hwzar, Alison Hynes, Catrin Jones, Anne Knowles, Pat Lord, Marion Lumb, Sheila Mallinson, Susan Quinn, Ann Royle, Patricia Smales, Jillian Taylor, Carole Tonge, Pamela Tooms, Susan Turner, Janice Wilson


John Humphreys
Musical Director
John Bethell
Set Designer
Mark Higginbotham
Stage Manager
David Warren
Lighting Design and Operation
Michael Saunders
Orchestra Manager
Marguerite Dalton
Rehearsal Accompanists
David Littley, Mike Harris
Wardrobe Mistress
Lesley Brookes
Front of House
David Littley
Chorus Master
Mike Harris
Poster and Programme Cover Design
Mark Higginbotham
Rosamond Caines, Sheila Mallinson
Business Manager
Anne Knowles


Tony Bogod
Andrew Sutcliffe
Marguerite Dalton
Rosamond Caines
Business Manager
Anne Knowles
Social Secretary
Andrew Booth
Ordinary Members
Julie Jessop, John Hymphreys, Mark Higginbotham


The Story of the Opera

The curtain rises to reveal a group of Japanese noblemen who have gathered in the courtyard of the official residence of Ko-Ko, Lord High Executioner and first citizen of Titipu. When they have introduced themselves Nanki-Poo, a wandering minstrel, arrives in search of Yum-Yum, Ko-Ko's ward and fiancee. Apparently, Yum-Yum and the singer fell in love a year ago but could not marry because she was already engaged to Ko-Ko, then a cheap tailor. However, Nanki-Poo has recently heard that the tailor had been condemned to death for flirting (a grave offence under the Mikado's law) and has now come to claim her hand. He is disappointed to learn from Pish-Tush that not only was a last-minute reprieve granted but that Ko-Ko was then elevated to his present illustrious position. A bribe to Pooh-Bah, a particularly haughty and corrupt noble, brings forth further information: Yum-Yum is due home from boarding school in order to marry Ko-Ko this very afternoon!
The executioner now enters and tells us that, should he ever require a victim, he has prepared a short-list of potential candidates. Yum-Yum and her school-friends arrive in Titipu and when she later finds herself alone with Nanki-Poo and hte hopelessness of their love becomes apparent, he confides that he is, in fact, the son of the Mikado but that he fled from the imperial court to escape from Katisha, an elderly lady whom he had captivated.
A letter now arrives from the Mikado regarding a recent lack of executions in the town and demanding that this situation be rectified within a month. As Ko-Ko anxiously searches for a victim he meets Nanki-Poo (in a suicidal frame of mind) and they come to an arrangement. Nanki-Poo can marry Yum-Yum for a month but must then be executed, amidst great ceremonial, leaving her free to marry Ko-Ko. The townspeople assemble and are told of this plan but as they rejoice Katisha suddenly appears and recognizes Nanki-Poo. When she learns of his approaching marriage, she angrily prepares to inform the Mikado of his son's whereabouts.
At the start of Act II, we find Yum-Yum in the palace garden preparing for her wedding to Nanki-Poo. However, Ko-Ko has made an unfortunate discovery: according to the law, when a man is beheaded, his wife is buried alive! Yum-Yum, intent on self-preservation, abandons Nanki-Poo and he once again threatens suicide. Ko-Ko, deprived of his victim, has an idea: if the couple were to marry and flee into exile, he could forge a death certificate and the Mikado would be none the wiser!
The Mikado now appears and seems satisfied by a detailed description of the supposed execution but Katisha notices Nanki-Poo's name on the death certificate. Those who claimed to be responsible now find themselves condemned for killing the heir-apparent! Theire only hope is to persuade Nanki-Poo to return but the will not agree unless Ko-Ko marries Katisha.
Reluctantly, Ko-Ko woos and marries her and Nanki-Poo re-appears. Katisha demands an explanation for the deception which Ko-Ko provides with rather unlikely logic and in the words of the Mikado, as the opera ends, "nothing could possibly be more satisfactory".
Colin Price

Notes on the Opera

In the late 19th Century, after a long period of isolation, Japan emerged onto the international scene and the western world developed a cult for things Japanese. There was a Japanese exhibition in Knightsbridge and the dramatist W.S. Gilbert had a ceremonial sword on the wall of his study. It is said that as he sat at his desk trying to devise a theme for a new opera, his sword suddenly fell and he immediately thought of a Japanese setting. Sullivan, who was often critical of Gilbert's subject matter, was enthusiastic and work soon started on "The Mikado", their ninth collaboration.
On 14th March, 1885, it had its first performance by the D'Oyly Carte Company at the Savoy Theatre. It was a spectacular success (some songs received seven encores) and continued to run for nearly two years. Gilbert's wit was at its brightest and the libretto has given rise to several popular quotations. Sullivan produced some of his best-know music, for example, "A wand'ring minstrel I", "Three little maids from school" and "Tit-Willow".
Since its premiere, the opera has had an appropriately Gilbertian history. In 1891, there was a command performance for Queen Victoria at Balmoral. However, in 1907, all performances were banned by the Lord Chamberlain to avoid offence to a visiting Japanese prince. Gilbert asked whether "Hamlet" would receive similar treatment if Danish royalty visited?
Of all the Savoy operas, none has proved more popular than "The Mikado". "Hot Mikados", "Swing Mikados", "Black Mikados", film and television versions have duly come and gone. The continuing survival of the original stage version, still an artistic and box-office success, is a fitting measure of the achievement of its creators, Gilbert and Sullivan.
Colin Price.

Patrons 1979/80

Peter N. Mitchell
Mr. and Mrs. Bastow
H.F. Worthing
Thomas Bent
J. Hughes
Dr. Colin Price
Karen J. Plucknett
James. A. Ladley
Andrew Lane
Rosamond Caines
J & M Stores
Fingland SMC Holt

Honorary Patrons

Lord Hailsham
Right Reverend Patrick Campbell Rodgers
Dr. Isaac Asimov
Patrick Moore CBE
Stanford Robinson CBE
Alexander Young


The Society gratefully acknowledges the generous donations from the following:-
Hope's Hardware, 238 Wilmslow Road, M14.
The Manchester University Dept. of Drama.
J. & D. Raynes (Timber), Lissadel St., Salford.
Malcolm Bishop, 232 Wilmslow Road, M14.

Programme Advertisers

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Haigh & Hochland Books
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Future performances

"The Mikado" (concert performance)
Sunday, 11th May, 1980, 7.45 p.m.
Liverpool Concert Orchestra, Oldham Choral Society & Manchester University Gilbert & Sullivan Society
Conductor: John Bethell
At The Queen Elizabeth Hall, Civic Centre Oldham


Complete recordings of this show (and all from 1964 onwards) can be purchased on CD from Mike Harris, our Society Archivist