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Hot Mikado

Hot Mikado is a musical comedy, based on Gilbert and Sullivan's The Mikado, adapted by David H. Bell (book and lyrics) and Rob Bowman (orchestrations and arrangements). After researching the 1939 Broadway musical, The Hot Mikado, Bell and Bowman created a new adaptation, Hot Mikado.

The original production ran from March 18–July 27, 1986 at Ford's Theatre in Washington, DC, where Bell was artistic director. Bell directed and choreographed the production. The musical also had an early Chicago production. The show was subsequently revived several times and finally ran in London's West End in 1995. It has enjoyed many additional productions in North America and the UK since then.

Production details

The plot of Hot Mikado does not stray far from the Gilbert and Sullivan original, with a similar satiric tone. Katisha is played as a vamp. Ko-Ko is characterized in a manner similar to such characters as Sergeant Bilko. An extra male character, Junior, is added, who takes some of Pish-Tush's lines and sings the solo in "Braid the raven hair." The show is set in Japan in the 1940s, with suggested settings and costuming combining Japanese design with American 1940s design. The set uses Japanese architecture, executed in the textures of The Cotton Club (neon, brass, mahogany). The costumes include zoot suits, snoods, wedgies and felt hats, executed in the colorful silk kimono textures of Japan.

The score uses much of Sullivan's original music but is reorchestrated using 1940s popular musical harmonies and arrangements and a wide range of styles, including jazz, hot gospel, blues, rock, Cab Calloway swing, and torch songs. The 'Three Little Maids' sing in Andrews Sisters' style. Many of the songs of Hot Mikado have the same name and melody as in The Mikado, but often have a twist. For example, the song "I Am So Proud" has the same melody for the verses, changing only towards the end, where it folds into a more jazzy round. The dances called for include the Lindy Hop, tap-dancing, the jitterbug and other 1940s dances.

The orchestrations call for Double Bass, Bass Guitar, Drums, Timpani, Duck Call, Glockenspiel, Large Gong, Mark tree, Triangle, Wood Block, Flute, Clarinet, Alto Saxophone, Cowbell, Trombone, Flugelhorn, Tambourine, and Trumpet.

Subsequent productions

1995 Washington DC and other US productions After a revival at Chicago's Marriott Lincolnshire Theatre in 1994, the musical was revived in 1995 Washington, DC, again at Ford's Theatre. The production received Helen Hayes Awards for (1) Outstanding Director -- Resident Musical -- David H. Bell; and (2) Outstanding Lead Actor -- Resident Musical -- Ross Lehman (Ko-Ko). Productions were also nominated for the following awards: (1) 2005 Los Angeles Drama Critics Award: Best Production; (2) 2004 Los Angeles Ovation Award: Best Musical; and (3) 1995 Helen Hayes Award: Outstanding Resident Musical. Bell has directed several other professional productions since 1986, including in his home city of Chicago. 1995 West End production A production was mounted in London's West End at the Queen's Theatre in 1995 (after a tryout in Bromley's Churchill Theatre) and ran for three months. It was nominated for an Olivier Award for Best New Musical. The cast included Lawrence Hamilton as the Mikado, Paul Manuel as Nanki-Poo, Ross Lehman as Ko-Ko, Richard Lloyd King as Pooh-Bah, Ben Richards as Pish-Tush, Neil Couperthwaite as Junior, Paulette Ivory as Yum-Yum, Alison Jiear as Pitti-Sing, Veronica Hart as Peep-Bo and Sharon Benson as Katisha. Bell directed, and the musical director for the production was Simon Lee, who also supervised the preparation of a cast recording (First Night: CD48). The show received good notices, with Plays International writing, "all the disparate elements come together into a very lively and enjoyable evening. 2006 London Bridge production In January 2006, the medical musical theatre society of King's College London presented a production of the show, which was given a modern-Asian look and was staged at the Greenwood Theatre at London Bridge (where the first edition of the BBC1 show Question Time was filmed). Craig Revel Horwood also directed a successful production of Hot Mikado at the Watermill Theatre in England in 2006.Others Many community groups and high schools have performed the show in the United States, Britain, Australia and Canada.


  • The Mikado, Baritone - The Big "Cat" of Japan
  • Nanki-Poo, Tenor - The Son of the Mikado
  • Yum-Yum, Soprano - The Ward of Titipu's Lord High Executioner
  • Pitti-Sing, Mezzo-Soprano - Yum-Yum's Sister
  • Peep-Bo, Soprano - Yum-Yum's Sister
  • Pish-Tush, Tenor - The "Coolest" Gentleman of Japan
  • Ko-Ko, Baritone - Lord High Executioner
  • Pooh-Bah, Bass - Lord High "Everything Else"
  • Katisha, Contralto - Spurned Elderly Suitor of Nanki-Poo
  • Also 6 gentlemen of Japan and 3 ladies of Japan

According to the publisher's website, casting is intended to be inter-racial, with the Mikado, Katisha and Pooh-Bah specifically singing in African-American musical styles.

Musical Numbers

Act I

  • Overture
  • We Are Gentlemen of Japan (the Gentlemen)
  • Wand'ring Minstrel (Nanki-Poo, the Gentlemen)
  • And the Drums Will Crash (Pooh-Bah, ensemble)
  • Behold the Lord High Executioner (Ko-Ko, the Gentlemen)
  • I've Got a Little List (Ko-Ko, the Gentlemen)
  • Three Little Maids (Yum-Yum, Peep-Bo, Pitti-Sing)
  • This Is What I'll Never Do (Yum-Yum, Nanki-Poo)
  • I Am So Proud (Pooh-Bah, Pish-Tush, Ko-Ko)
  • Let the Throng Our Joy Advance (Nanki-Poo, Yum-Yum, ensemble)
  • Katisha's Entrance (Katisha)
  • For He's Gonna Marry Yum-Yum (Pitti-Sing, ensemble)
  • Hour of Gladness (Katisha)
  • Finale/Act One (ensemble)
Act II

  • Entr'acte
  • Braid the Raven Hair (Pish-Tush, ensemble)
  • Sun and I (Yum-Yum)
  • Swing a Merry Madrigal (Nanki-Poo, Pitti-Sing, Yum-Yum, Pish-Tush)
  • Here's a Howdy-Do (Nanki-Poo, Yum-Yum, Ko-Ko)
  • Mikado Song (The Mikado, ensemble)
  • Alone and Yet Alive (Katisha)
  • Tit-Willow (Ko-Ko)
  • Beauty in the Bellow (Ko-Ko, Katisha)
  • Finale (ensemble)
  • Playout



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