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Shogun - the Musical


A musical in 2 Acts. Music by Paul Chihara: Book & lyrics by John Driver. Based on the novel by James Clavell.

Marquis Theatre, Broadway - 29 November, 1990 - Closed 20 January, 1991 (72 perfs)


In 1598 A.D. Protestant England was at war with the Catholic Empires of Spain and Portugal. With the Queen's blessing, a raiding party of five trader warships set sail from London, their purpose was to establish trade with the New World. Only the Erasmus, piloted by John Blackthorne, survived the waters of the Magellan Straits to break into the Pacific.

Pursued by enemy fleets, her retreat cut off, the Erasmus turns west into uncharted seas toward mysterious China and the Japans — lands that were still the stuff of legends.

Unknown to the Protestant world, Portuguese Jesuits have gained great influence in Japan, with many feudal lords as converts.


April 1600

On the Erasmus, now six months from her last landfall, Chile, pilot John Blackthome fights the storming sea. The ship runs aground but Blackthorn and a few of the crew survive. Struggling to a beach, they meet Father Alvito, a Portuguese Jesuit priest, and are told they have reached the Japans.

Buntaro, the Daimyo (lord) of Anjiro Province, captures them but is soon ordered to surrender the sailors and the ship to his liege lord, Lord Toranaga, the overlord of the district.

cover to the novelLady Mariko, the wife of Lord Buntaro, is assigned to translate between Toranaga and Blackthorne. The Englishman learns, that although Japan has an Emperor, the man is a puppet of the Shogun. When the previous Shogun died he willed that the power be divided equally between a council of five Daimyos. At present, two members of this council of five, Toranaga and Ishido, are locked in a deadly game for the Shogunate.

Toranaga, his family and retainers are summoned by Emperor's decree to Osaka Castle, an impregnable fortress controlled by Ishido. In order to bolster his power base, Ishido holds hostage many family members of his enemies within the castle walls.

Ishido schemes with the three Catholic Diamyos and passes a resolution demanding that Toranaga remain as a "guest" in Osaka Castle, thus making Toranaga a virtual prisoner.

Whilst confined to the castle, Blackthorne's life is threatened by the Catholics. They fear that his ship is a danger to their trading vessel, the Black Ship, a veritable treasure trove that has a monopoly on the silk trade between China and Japan.

Ishido permits Blackthorne, Mariko and a few other hostages to leave the castle. At the gates, Toranaga attempts to escape with the group and they are pursued. Blackthorne saves Lord Toranaga's life. As a reward he is made a Samurai.


July 1600

Having heard rumours that Mariko has been unfaithful to him, Buntaro asks Lord Toranaga if he may take Blackthorne's life. Toranaga agrees, but Buntaro is told to wait until Toranaga's conflict with Ishido is resolved.

Toranaga restores Blackthorne's ship to him with orders to ready it to sail against the Catholic Daimyos who are presently allied to Ishido. Then, with Mariko as a go-between, Toranaga uses the threat of Blackthorne's ship to forge an alliance with the Catholics.

In an attempt to free those hostages who still remain in Ishido's castle, Mariko convinces Toranaga to allow her to return to Osaka. There, she threatens to commit seppuku, or ritual suicide, so the fact that Ishido is holding family members against their will can be made public. Mariko succeeds in forcing Ishido to grant a release of the hostages, but Ishido reneges on his agreement and hires Ninja to capture her alive. She and Blackthorne try to flee to a secret sanctuary within the castle.

War follows.


Cast (in order of appearance)

Slatterns of the Hovel, The Red guards of Osaka Castle, Ninja Attackers, Taiko Drummers

Dance Number

  1. Storm Scene - Karma
  2. Born to Serve - Toranaga's Entrance
  3. An Island
  4. Karma
  5. Fireflies
  6. Kuroko/Fireflies
  7. Rum Below
  8. One Candle

Musical Numbers

Act I

  1. Karma - Orchestra
  2. Night of Screams - Sailor, Blackthorne & Ensemble
  3. This is Samurai - Samurai
  4. How Nice to See You - Toranaga, Buntaro, Alvito & Mariko
  5. Impossible Eyes - Mariko & Blackthorne
  6. He Let Me Live - Mariko
  7. Honto - Blackthorne
  8. Assassination - Alvito & Ferrieralogo
  9. Shogun - Hostages
  10. Royal Blood - Ishido & Toranaga
  11. An Island- Toranaga
  12. No Word for Love - Mariko
  13. Mad Rum Below/Escape - Blackthorne & Ensemble
  14. Karma - Toranaga & Ensemble
  15. Born to Be Together - Mariko & Blackthorn

Act II

  1. Fireflies - Ensemble, Mariko & Blackthorne
  2. Sail Home - Blackthorne
  3. Rum Below - Blackthorn, Toranaga & Ensemble
  4. Pillowing - Gyoko, Kiku & Ladies
  5. Born to Be Together (reprise) - Mariko & Blackthorne
  6. No Man - Blackthorne
  7. Cha-No-Yu - Mariko & Buntaro
  8. Absolution - Alvito, Acolyte, Ensemble & Mariko
  9. Poetry Competition - Ishido, Sazuko & Mariko
  10. Death Walk - Ensemble & Blackthorne
  11. One Candle - Mariko & Blackthorne
  12. Ninja Raid - Orchestra
  13. One Candle (reprise) - Mariko & Blackthorne
  14. Winter Battle - Orchestra
  15. Resolutions - Toranaga and Ensemble
  16. Trio - Toranaga, Blackthorne & Mariko
  17. Finale - Ensemble