Nanki-Poo, son of the Mikado, arrives in Titipu disguised as a wandering minstrel.
He explains that several months earlier he’d fallen in love with Yum-Yum - but she
was already betrothed to Ko-Ko, a cheap tailor, and he’d left in despair. Now he’s
heard Ko-Ko has been condemned to death for flirting...
Nanki-Pooh’s hopes are quickly dashed by Pish-Tush (A Noble Lord). Ko-Ko has earnt
a reprieve - and been appointed Lord High Executioner. Pooh-Bah (Lord High of Everything
Else) confirms there’s no hope, and Ko-Ko himself arrives to explain his change of
fortune – and a list of potential candidates to launch him on his new ‘career’.
The ladies arrive, quickly followed by Yum-Yum, Pitti-Sing and Peep-Bo. The three
girls are delighted to see Nanki-Pooh again and rush to greet him. Nanki-Pooh, expecting
Ko-Ko’s anger, admits that he loves Yum Yum. “Anger!” Ko-Ko responds. “Not a bit,
my boy. Why, I love her myself.”
Left alone, Nanki-Poo declares his love to Yum-Yum and confides his true identity,
explaining that he fled his father’s court to avoid marriage to the formidable Katisha.
Yum-Yum warns him to keep his distance – the punishment for flirting is severe. But
Nanki-Pooh finds a way round that by showing her how it could be between them...
In the meantime the Mikado has written to Ko-Ko, complaining about the lack of recent
executions. If the situation is not remedied within a month, he warns, Titipu will
be demoted from a town to a mere village. Ko-Ko, Pooh-Bah and Pish-Tush ponder who
their ‘saviour’ should be.
Later Ko-Ko comes across a despondant Nanki-Pooh, who has decided to end his life
rather than be without his beloved Yum-Yum. The solution is clear; Ko-Ko will behead
him instead, and clinches the deal by allowing him to marry Yum-Yum providing he
agrees to be executed at the end of a month.
On hearing this resolution to their problems the townsfolk celebrate – but their
revelries are cut short by the arrival of Katisha. Rejected by her reluctant fiance,
she attempts to reveal his true identity – but is thwarted by the crowd. She leaves,
Yum Yum happily prepares for her wedding day – until she is reminded, by the other
girls, of her new husband’s imminent fate. Nanki-Pooh arrives to cheer her up, but
his efforts are in vain when Ko-Ko appears with bad news. According to the Mikado’s
laws, the wife of a beheaded man must be buried alive. This information rather diminishes
Yum-Yum’s enthusiasm for the marriage.
Determined to spare her such a grim fate, Nanki-Pooh demands that Ko-Ko behead him
at once. But Ko-Ko admits he cannot kill anyone, and an alternative solution must
be found. With word of the Mikado’s pending arrival in Titipu, the three decide that
Nanki-Pooh and Yum-Yum will leave at once and Ko-Ko will swear that the execution
has taken place.
The young lovers escape just in time; the Mikado – and Katisha – have arrived in
Titipu. Ko-Ko, Pooh-Bar and Pitti-Sing deliver a detailed and inventive account of
the supposed beheading – but, whilst pleased his orders have been carried out, the
Mikado explains his true purpose in visiting is find his son.
When the allegedly dead Nanki-Pooh’s true identity is revealed by Katisha, the three
storytellers beg his eminent father for mercy. Whilst not unsympathetic to their
plight the Mikado decrees, however that they shall die a horrible death for their
Hearing of this, Nanki-Pooh is faced with a dilemma; if he reveals himself to spare
them from this terrible fate, he - and his new bride Yum-Yum – risk a terrible fate
of their own. He suggests that Ko-Ko, wed Katisha, – thus freeing him of any obligation
Ko-Ko agrees – reluctuctantly – and sets about wooing, winning and wedding Katisha.
Despite her initial disinterest he succeeds, allowing Nanki-Pooh to be miraculously
restored. Reuinited with his errant son and new daughter-in-law Yum-Yum, a rather
bemused Mikado listens as Ko-Ko explains his deception. Satisfied, the Great and
Humane Leader commutes the death sentence to a lifetime spent married to Katisha
instead, leading to a joyous celebration.