March 4, 2012

Top Rejected Mikado character names

Image by Larry D. Moore, used under a Creative Commons ShareAlike License.
When Gilbert and Sullivan decided to create their Japanese operetta The Mikado, it's important to remember that Japan had only recently been open to the West, and Asian culture was still quite alien and new in England.  Few people realize how Gilbert struggled to invent Japanese-sounding names for his principal characters.  After exhausting research, I have unearthed documents which, uh, document the names  he considered and rejected before ultimately arriving at the ones we all know today.  Here, then, are a series of Top 10 lists of those rejected Mikado character names.  Someday historians will thank me.

TOP 10 REJECTED NAMES FOR NANKI-POO
10.  Stinky-Stew
9.  Lanky Lou
8.  Scooby-Doo
7.  Karen  (Yeah, I don't get that one either)
6.  Nasty-Flu
5.  Hanky-achoo
4.  Gringy-New(t)
3.  Skanky-Sue (the character was female in early drafts of the libretto)
2.  Micro-brew
1.  Charleston-Chew

TOP 10 REJECTED NAMES FOR KO-KO
10.  Hostess Ho-Ho
9.    Ruh-Roh (ironic in view of #8 above)
8.    Play-Doh
7.    Snow-Blow-Er
6.    Pro-Bowl
5.    Karen (Weird, I know...)
4.    Tae-Bo
3.    Glow (little glow-worm) Glow
2.    Mo'-Pho (Gilbert briefly considered a Vietnamese setting)
1     Run! It's the Po-Po

TOP 10 REJECTED NAMES FOR YUM YUM
10.  Flim-Flam
9.    Rumbly-in-Tumbly
8.   Scum-bag
7.   Hum-Drum
6.   Mum-Chum (originally the role was to be performed by a mute)
5.   Numb-Nut
4.   Blame-Game
3.   Gram-Gram (in one draft, the character was Pitty-Sing's grandmother)
2.   Pflegm-Pflegm  (the mute also had chronic allergies)
1.   Karen

My new book The Opera Zoo: Singers, Composers and Other Primates is now available from Kendall Hunt Publishing. Order online at www.kendallhunt.com or by phone from the Customer Service line at 1-800-344-9034 ext.3020.

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