The Mikado

Saturday 23 February at 7.30 pm

After last year's successful production of The Pirates of Penzance, Utopians Unlimited return to Carshalton Methodist Church for the fourth consecutive year with Gilbert & Sullivan's comic opera The Mikado, directed by Jon Fox and John Aldis. Doors open at 7.00 pm.

This is a traditional production in 'Japanese' costumes, with the music and dialogue performed by a dedicated group of principals and chorus singers. The Mikado is full of memorable and well-known melodies including: A Wand'ring Minstrel I; Behold the Lord High Executioner; Three little maids from school we are; Brightly dawns our wedding day; and The flowers that bloom in the spring.

Founded in 1980, the Utopians were originally a concert group of six singers. They have since morphed into a larger group (hence the 'unlimited') who stage Gilbert & Sullivan in churches in the Croydon, Reigate and Redhill area for church fund raising and enjoyment.

Tickets are £10 each. Contact Sue on 07866 969147 or at

Read on for a synopsis of the plot.

Utopians - cast of Iolanthe in 2016
The cast of Utopians Unlimited's 2016 production of Iolanthe

The Mikado – a synopsis

Before the opera story begins, Nanki-Poo, the Mikado’s son, fled from his father’s palace to escape being compelled to marry Katisha, an elderly lady of the court. Nanki-Poo has become an itinerant minstrel who falls in love with Yum-Yum; however, he cannot marry her because Ko-Ko, her guardian, has decided to marry her himself.

Nanki-Poo learns that Ko-Ko has been sentenced to death for violating the Mikado’s law against flirting, so he has arrived in Titipu to determine if Ko-Ko has been executed, and, therefore, if Yum-Yum is free to marry him. He encounters Pooh-Bah, a corrupt public official, and Pish-Tush, a noble, who inform him that Ko-Ko was reprieved at the last moment by a set of curious chances, and then raised to the exalted rank of Lord High Executioner. Nanki-Poo despairs when he learns that Ko-Ko plans to marry Yum-Yum immediately.

There have been no executions in Titipu since Ko-Ko became Lord High Executioner. Ko‑Ko receives a letter from the Mikado ordering him to execute someone or else lose his post. As he ponders his dilemma, Nanki-Poo appears, vowing suicide because he cannot marry Yum-Yum, the woman he loves.

Ko-Ko offers to allow Nanki-Poo to marry Yum-Yum for one month, after which, he will become his execution victim. Suddenly, Katisha appears and discovers Nanki-Poo, the vanished object of her love. After she is driven away, she rushes to inform the Mikado that his son has been found.

Yum-Yum prepares for her one-month marriage to Nanki-Poo. However, Ko-Ko arrives with the shocking revelation that he has discovered a law decreeing that when a married man is executed, his widow must be buried alive: under those horrible conditions, the marriage between Yum-Yum and Nanki-Poo is cancelled.

Nevertheless, Ko-Ko must find a ‘substitute’ for execution or he will be decapitated by the Mikado. Nanki-Poo contrives a solution to save Ko-Ko’s life: a false affidavit confirming his own execution, but in exchange, he must be allowed to marry Yum-Yum and leave the country forever. Ko-Ko agrees.

The Mikado arrives in Titipu. Ko-Ko believes that the purpose of his visit is to confirm that an execution has taken place so he produces the affidavit and proceeds to describe the execution with gusto. However, the Mikado has actually come to Titipu in search of his lost son and when he learns from the affidavit that Ko-Ko and his ministers have executed his son, he declares them guilty of ‘compassing the death of the Heir Apparent’. Their only hope to avoid execution is to produce Nanki-Poo alive.

Nanki-Poo hesitates to reveal himself, fearing that if Katisha learns that he has married Yum-Yum she will have him executed. The dilemma is resolved by Ko-Ko, who, at Nanki-Poo's suggestion, woos, wins, and weds Katisha. Nothing could possibly be more satisfactory.

Why was the opera set in Japan? who exactly was the Mikado? and did W.S. Gilbert really get his inspiration for the plot from an old Japanese sword that fell off his study wall? …

Read more about The Mikado on Wikipedia.