- Book: John Weidman
- Music and Lyrics: Stephen Sondheim
- Additional Material: Hugh Wheeler
- The Winter Garden, June 11, 1976 (193 perf.)
- Director: Harold Prince
- Choreographer: Patricia Birch
- Musical Director: Paul Gemignani
- Orchestration: Jonathan Tunick
- Reciter- Mako- Baritone
- Abe- Yuki Shimoda- Baritone
- Manjiro- Sab Shimano- Baritone
- Kayama- Isao Sato- Baritone
- Chorus and Smaller Roles: 12M/9F who play a variety of roles*
- *Original was performed by an all male cast, see notes
- The play begins in a quiet Japanese fishing
village in 1853, during the Tokugawa era when most of Japan was outlawed to foreigners and
the Japanese were prisoners of their homeland. The Reciter, in Kabuki/Bunraku style
narrates the story by conveying the history and the advantages of isolation (THE
ADVANTAGES OF FLOATING IN THE MIDDLE OF THE SEA- M Solo to Mixed Chorus).
- The Reciter introduces the Shoguns
Court where the Counselors are meting out sentence on Manjiro, a young sailor who was
shipwrecked, taken to Massachusetts and recently returned to Japan to announce the
impending arrival of the Americans. The counselors are enraged that he suggest they
contemplate trade with the approaching Westerners.
- Next to arrive at the Shoguns Court is
Kayama Yesaemon, a minor Samurai who mistakenly cast his fishing nets in a stream
belonging to the Shogun. Kayama is elevated to the position of "Prefect
Policeman" and ordered to greet the approaching Americans and send them away.
- As Kayama tells his wife Tamate of this
impossible task two singers appear onstage, one to sing her thoughts and one to tell about
her. During the song, Tamate mimes her emotions, for she knows that failure of this
important task will mean dishonor for the family and thus suicide (IS THERE NO OTHER WAY?-
M/F Duet). As this touching scene ends, an enormous bell rings signaling the arrival of
the Americans. Various villagers comment on their ideas of the warship; a Fisherman hears
this bell and perceives the four battleships to be four black dragons, spitting fire. A
merchant realizes that the arrival of the battleships will endanger his family and
attempts to move elsewhere before being destroyed by "foreign dogs." Lastly, a
thief sees the battleships and thinks they are four volcanoes spitting fire. Each villager
reacts with fear and shock as the U.S.S. Powhatan disturbs their peaceful isolation (FOUR
BLACK DRAGONS- M Trio to Mixed Chorus).
- Kayama dutifully rows to the warship, but is
shamefully sent away by the Americans who demand that a high official receive their
message. The Council decides to disguise the English speaking Manjiro as a high official
and the two manage to bide six days time for the Country. At the end of six days, if the
Shogun hasnt personally met with Commandor Perry on Japanese soil, the American
warships will level the town of Uraga. Manjiro and Kayama are left with the tasks of
pleasing the demanding Americans and respecting the sacred decree that will not allow a
foreigner to set foot on Japan.
- The isolation of the Shogun and his refusal
to deal with the changing outside world are seen in the Shoguns quarters when the
ruler repeatedly ignores his mother, who urges him to negotiate with the Americans. She
gradually poisons him, for she feels that no Shogun is better than a weak one
(CHRYSANTHEMUM TEA- F Solo and Small M Chorus).
- Kayama, with the help of Manjiro, proposes
that a special treaty house be built and the ground be covered with Tatame mats which can
be burned when the Americans leave, thereby keeping Japanese soil sacred. The Council
immediately raises him to Governor of Uraga with Manjiro as his assistant. Manjiro is
grateful to Kayama for saving him from the death sentence usually given to men who have
left and then return to Japan. He tells Kayama that America is a land of equality and
liberty. As Manjiro sings of Boston, Kayama idealizes his wife Tamate. Both the city and
the woman embody lifes glorious journey to Manjiro and Kayama. They reveal these
feelings through poems on the way to Kayamas home (POEMS- Sc to M Duet).
- Manjiro waits for Kayama, whos wife has
committed suicide because she was certain her husband would fail the Shogun. Kayama leaves
with Manjiro who takes his mind off of his grief by telling him of the great advancements
America can bring to Japan.
- The scene shifts to a Madam and her young
girls who await a boost in business when the sailors arrive. The Madam instructs her
charges on behavior and hands out "instructional" fans which contain erotic
drawings. The young girls are both frightened by the arrival of the "barbarians"
and excited at the prospects of a booming business. The Madam hopes to satisfy the
American sailors so that they will not destroy Uraga (WELCOME TO KANAGAWA- L to F Chorus).
- The narrator begins to explain that no
written Japanese record survives of the treaty meeting, but he is interrupted by an old
man and a warrior who outline their memories of the event (SOMEONE IN A TREE- M Duet). The
treaty is signed, the Americans leave and the Japanese burn the mats and try to forget the
- Act II opens after the Americans leave the
village. Abe, a former councilor, is elevated to the position of Shogun by a Bunraku
"puppet" emperor. The fact that the emperor is a portrayed by puppet implies his
powerlessness and inability to make decisions. In actuality, it is the priests who are
running Japan, since they manipulate the emperor. Kayama is raised to the position of
Governer of Uraga and Manjiro is elevated to Samurai. The priest talks for the emperor and
congratulates the saviors of Japan.
- The quiet does not last and soon the British,
Dutch, Russians and French join the Americans by sending envoys to make treaty demands
(PLEASE, HELLO- Small M Chorus).
- The peaceful island is soon overrun with
booming business and factories. Kayama, as Governor, is interested in progress, while
Manjiro, now a Samurai, is studying the ancient customs. The next song covers a ten-year
time span and shows how the Manjiro has adapted Western ways (A BOWLER HAT- L to M Solo).
- The arrival of the Westerners, who have been
relegated to the Yokohama and Nagasakii areas, causes problems. One instance occurs when
some British sailors, lonely for companionship, enter a private garden, mistake a young
girl for a geisha and attempt to buy her attention (PRETTY LADY- M Trio). The girl,
terrified, calls her father, who kills one of the sailors and causes an international
incident. Abe, now Shogun and interested in pleasing the foreigners, suggests they punish
the Samurai who killed the sailor.
- As Lord Abe and Kayama are journeying on a
road, discussing the murder of the sailor, they are attacked by a Samurai and Abe is
killed. Kayama recognizes Manjiro and is shocked when he is forced to fight his former
friend. He is killed by Manjiro who seeks to have the puppet emperor, Meiji, in power and
the foreigners expelled.
- As Manjiro and the Samurais carry the puppet
emperor to victory, the puppet comes to life and announces the Japanese must become
westernized and sets about to rule the Government; it is the start of the Meiji era. The
scene jumps to modern times where the Japanese, in western dress, comment on their
changes. They look to the future (NEXT- Chorus).
NOTES ON THE PRODUCTION
- Pacific Overtures won Tony Awards in
1976 for Set and Costume Design. Most of the other awards went to A Chorus Line.
- The show is more interesting than its short
run gives credit to. In the original production, all the roles were played by men, for the
director wanted to stylize the show in the Kabuki manner. This is highly unnecessary and
would normally be detrimental to the quality of any American production because it takes
years of training for a male actor to accurately portray a female in the traditional
Japanese theatre. In fact, in America, the final product would appear more accurate if the
female roles were played by females.
- The music is challenging and the show worthy
of study if the director has some knowledge of Japanese dance, theatre and manners.
- The costumes include court brocades, peasant
Yukatas, modern costumes, and 1860s period European military. The visual look is
maintained through the costumes and they should be accurate, and designed for stylized
movement. Sets may be comprised of small pieces or presented on a very large scale,
depending on the directors needs and the budget allowed. The acting and the style
are more essential in creating the mood than the sets.
SONGS OF SPECIAL INTEREST
- "A Bowler Hat," Baritone, development of character
throughout, good for developing Japanese character
- "Chrysanthemum Tea," Alto, clever, strong characterization
for the Mother, interesting number for class project
- "Please Hello," Excellent number for class study, various
nationality characters, characters important
- Instrumentation: 5 reeds, 2 horns, 2 trumpets, trombone, harp, keyboard-rmi celeste, 2
percussion, viola, cello, bass, Shamisen (onstage), oriental percussion (onstage)
- Script: Dodd, Mead
- Score: Revelation
- Record: RCA
- Rights: MTI
PAINT YOUR WAGON
- Book and Lyrics: Alan Jay Lerner
- Music: Frederick Loewe
- Sam S. Shubert Theatre, November 12, 1951 (284 perf.)
- Director: Daniel Mann
- Choreographer: Agnes de Mille
- Orchestra Conductor: Franz Allers
- Ben Rumson- James Barton- Baritone
- Julio- Tony Bavaar- Tenor
- Jennifer- Olga San Juan- Alto
- Jacob- Josh Wheller- Baritone
- Elizabeth Woodling- Marijane Maricle- VTI
- Jacob Woodling- Joshua Wheeler- Baritone
- Sarah Woodling- Jan Sherwood- VTI
- Chorus and Smaller Roles: 6F/8M minimum
- The play is set in 1853 when Californians had
gold fever and any speculation of gold caused people to rush to the area of the strike.
- One evening, while Ben Rumson is delivering
the eulogy for a dead miner friend, Bens sixteen-year old daughter, Jennifer,
discovers a piece of gold. Ben quickly finishes his prayer and triumphantly stakes a
- On a trail somewhere in California, Steve
Bullrack, a handsome young man, decides to head north to Ben Rumsons claim. Other
men are on various roads leading to Rumson (IM ON MY WAY- M Chorus).
- The men arrive in the rapidly growing mining
camp of Rumson whose main attraction is Salems store. The various characters are
introduced and sing about their dreams of wealth (RUMSON- M Chorus). Jennifer, the only
woman in Rumson wonders why the men ignore her (WHATS GOING ON HERE?- Sc to F Solo).
She doesnt realize they stay away before they lose control and get themselves in
trouble with her father. When Julio Valveras, a young Mexican, arrives outside
Salems store for some foot medicine, Mike and Sandy, two miners, question him about
the legend of the lake of gold. He tells them that several of his friends died looking for
the gold but later explains to Jennifer he fears that if he finds the gold the men will
jump his claim because he is a Mexican with no rights. Julio confides his dream of
learning to read and write (I TALK TO THE TREES- Sc to M Solo).
- The men warn Jennifer to stay away from them
and try and keep their minds off the wind, which calls through the hills, by telling
stories about the women they left behind (THEY CALL THE WIND MARIA- M Chorus).
- In front of Rumsons cabin, the men urge
Ben to send Jennifer back East for school, but he hesitates because he will be lonely
without her. She urges him to tell her about her mother (I STILL SEE ELISA- Sc to M Solo)
whom Jennifer never knew and Ben decides it is time for Jennifer to get some proper
schooling. She tries to talk him out of it because of Julio, but he insists (HOW CAN I
WAIT?- F Solo).
- On a hill near Rumson, Jacob, a Morman man is
seated with Elizabeth and Sarah, his two quarreling wives. The three pray for happiness
(TRIO- 2F/M Trio).
- Ben declares it is illegal for a man to have
two wives and orders Jacob to sell one of them. Ben worries that Elizabeth would mind
marrying someone she didnt know, but she figures anyone would be better than her
present husband. Ben tells her about himself (IN BETWEEN- M Solo), and goes out to win the
bidding (WHOOP TI AY- M Chorus). Jennifer hears that Ben is going to remarry someone he
hardly knows and runs off to find Julio. Julio sensibly convinces her to go to school
(CARINO MIO- M Solo) and promises they will be together in a year. She says goodbye and
runs to the coach which will take her East.
- The men, anxious for female companionship,
fervently await the arrival of a group of Fandango girls (THERES A COACH COMIN
IN- M Chorus). Steve tells Julio his claim has dried up and Julio realizes that all the
veins will soon be depleted and the town will go bust. He sadly looks off in
Jennifers direction and wonders if he will see her again.
- Act II begins one year later at the musical
hall. The men and Fandangos are having a great time (HAND ME DOWN THAT CAN O
BEANS- Mixed Chorus), but the atmosphere quickly changes when the girls realize the men
have no cash to spend because the town has dried up.
- Mike prods Julio to take him to the frozen
lake so he can strike a claim, but Julio refuses, fearing he will be killed if Mike finds
gold. He finally realizes the only way to achieve his dream is to trust Mike and the two
set off (ANOTHER AUTUMN- M Solo).
- Out at the diggins the men are packing
up (MOVIN- M Chorus).
- Jennifer, who has been gone a year, returns
to the cabin in hopes of marrying Julio. She tells Elizabeth that the only reason she went
was because Julio wanted her to (ALL FOR HIM- Sc to F Solo). Ben greets Jennifer with the
news that he is moving out to search for new claims and Julio has gone (WANDRIN
STAR- M Solo). Jennifer resigns herself to patiently wait for his return.
- Later that night, Ben, hoping to raise money,
goes to Jakes and sells Elizabeth to Jamey the gambler for three thousand dollars.
When the two discover she has run off with Crocker, Jamey attempts to get a refund, but is
laughed away. There is news of another strike forty miles off (THE STRIKE- M Chorus) and
the men head out. Jennifer decides to wait for Julio and Ben discovers he is unable to
leave the town named after him.
- The following spring, the store is partially
boarded and the population has dropped to six. Julio, on his way to Mexico, returns to
inquire about Jennifer. He learns she is in town waiting for him and asks Ben how she knew
he would come back. Ben responds that everyone needs a dream. When Jennifer enters Julio
is overwhelmed by the change in her and they embrace (FINALE- Mixed Chorus).
NOTES ON THE PRODUCTION
- The musical stage play bears no resemblance
to the movie adaptation, which shouldnt be used to judge the merits of the
production. The script, in its published form, is somewhat slow but the music is
exceptionally good. One may want to consider obtaining the rights to perform this show in
capsulated version with shortened scenes into the musical numbers. The songs are certainly
worthy of presenting and the basic idea of the show is workable. Because of the lack of
action, amateur groups may find it difficult to keep the audience interested without
judicious editing of the existing script.
- The scenes may be combined or trimmed to
include Rumsons cabin, Salems store, Jakes and a street. The chorus may
have one costume per actor, but Jennifer and Elizabeth should have at least two.
SONGS OF SPECIAL INTEREST
- "I Talk To the Trees," Tenor, beautiful, lilting melody, ending possibly
suited for audition
- "I Still See Elisa," Baritone, poignant love song for a character actor who
sings about his departed wife
- "Whats Goin On Here?" comic lyrics, situation, make this a
humorous song for an Alto, lots of actable specifics, problem song
- Instrumentation: 3 violins, viola, cello, bass, 5 reeds, 3 trumpets, 2 trombones,
percussion, guitar/banjo, piano/conductor
- Script: Theatre Arts 52 Chappell, Coward-McCann
- Score: Chappell
- Record: RCA
- Rights: Tams-Witmark
- Book: George Abbott and Richard Bissell
- Music: Richard Adler and Jerry Ross
- St. James Theatre, May 13, l954 (1,063 perf.)
- Directors: George Abbott and Jerome Robbins
- Choreographer: Bob Fosse
- Musical Director: Hal Hastings
- Orchestration: Don Walker
- Hines- Eddie Foy Jr.- Baritone
- Sid- John Raitt- Baritone
- Babe Williams- Janis Paige- Mezzo
- Prez- Stanley Prager- Tenor
- Gladys- Carol Haney- Alto
- Mabel- Reta Shaw- Alto
- Poopsie- Rae Allen- VTI
- Hasler- Ralph Dunn- VTNE
- Mae- Thelma Pelish- VTI
- Brenda- Marion Colby- VTI
- Pop- William David- VTNE
- Chorus and Smaller Roles: 8M/8F
- The play opens sometime in the 1950s, in a
small town in Iowa. Hines, a time study man, stands in front of the curtain, a composite
of pajama fabric swatches, and introduces the audience to the "Sleep Tite"
pajama factory (THE PAJAMA GAME- L to M Solo).
- The curtain opens on the interior of the
pajama factory where girls are busy sewing, inspecting and sorting pajamas. As Hines
continues to narrate, Prez, the Union President, a stocky, glasses-wearing, wise mouthed
individual tells everyone there will be a strike if the seven and a half-cent raise
doesnt come through. Mr. Hasler, Hines boss, enters yelling for everyone to
economize and dictates a letter to his secretary, Gladys, to refuse the proposed raise. He
orders Hines to keep things going and exits (RACING WITH THE CLOCK- F Chorus).
- The girls break for lunch as Sid Soroken, the
ambitious, handsome new superintendent, enters with two belligerent helpers, one of whom
he shoves aside for being slow. The helper leaves to complain to the grievance committee
and Sid sends the other off. He comments on the atmosphere, both in the town and among the
workers, but is convinced he can overcome the obstacles (A NEW TOWN IS A BLUE TOWN- M
Solo). Brenda, Mae, and Babe Williams of the workers "Grievance Committee"
meet Sid, who convinces them he treats the workers fairly. He tells Babe she is the cutest
Grievance Committee Head he has ever encountered and hopes they can discuss matters
- In a factory hallway, Mae, Brenda, Poopsie,
Virginia and Martha encounter Babe and accuse her of being in love with Sid, but she
denies any interest (IM NOT AT ALL IN LOVE- Sc to F Solo to F Chorus).
- In the superintendents office, Mabel,
Sids stylishly stout secretary, sits at her desk typing while Poopsie asks Hines if
he is going to do his knife-throwing act at the annual company picnic. Hines, noticing his
girlfriend Gladys putting a note on Sids desk, jealously accuses her of playing
around. He is ashamed to discover it is only a payroll statement. Mabel tests Hines who
vows he is cured of his jealousy (ILL NEVER BE JEALOUS AGAIN- Sc to F/M Duet) and
they exit. When Sid hears from Babe that the Grievance Committee is dropping the
workers complaint he tries to date her. Doubting the wisdom of becoming involved
with someone in management, she refuses. Left alone, he talks to his Dictaphone (HEY
THERE- M Solo with his voice mechanically echoed).
- On the road to the company picnic, Prez, a
married man, makes a play for Gladys (HER IS- Sc to M/F Duet). At the picnic, denoted by a
banner, picnic tables, and beer kegs, Hines is throwing his knives at a practice target.
The workers sing the company anthem and Babe nearly gets herself killed during the
inebriated Hines knife throwing act. Sid takes Babe aside, kisses her, realizes he
loves her and bursts into song. The chorus enters and joins in (ONCE A YEAR DAY- M Solo to
- On the way back from the company picnic, Prez
makes a play for the overweight Mae (HER IS [REPRISE]- M/F Duet). Babe, at home in the
kitchen, attempts to force Sid to realize that the seven and a half cent proposed raise
will cause relationship problems for them, but he refuses to listen (SMALL TALK- Sc to M/F
- At the factory, the girls have noticed
Babes infatuation with Sid and hope she can handle it. Babe and Sid greet each other
warmly and Sid tells her how much he loves her (THERE ONCE WAS A MAN- Sc to M/F Duet). The
workers, with Babes knowledge, stage a slow down (RACING WITH THE CLOCK [REPRISE]-
Slower Tempo F Chorus) which is stopped when Sid insists they speed up before he fires
everyone. When Babe purposely jams a machine and stops the line, Sid fires her and clears
the area until he can fix things. As he begins to work on the machine he realizes that the
problems at work have affected his personal life (HEY THERE [REPRISE]- M Solo).
- Act II begins at a union meeting where the
members are being entertained with a song and dance by Gladys and two men (STEAM HEAT-
2M/F Dance Trio).
- Sid arrives at Babes to tell her he
loves her, despite their problems, but she exits into her room, leaving Sid with Pop and
his stamp collection. In her bedroom, she tearfully sings (HEY THERE [REPRISE]- F Solo).
- Hines, who cant stand to see time
wasted, reproaches the girls involved in the factory slowdown. He feels personally
attacked and tries to explain his emotions (THINK OF THE TIME I SAVE- M Solo to Chorus).
- In Sids office, Mabel and Sid are
greeted by an angry salesman and Hines. It seems the factory workers have only been
putting two threads in the buttons so when the pajama models demonstrate, the pajamas fall
off. Sid who has become suspicious of Haslers refusal to give the workers their
raise, invites Gladys to a dark restaurant to try and obtain the key to the companys
ledgers (HERNANDOS HIDEAWAY- M/F Solo). During the song, the scene switches to
Hernandos Chop Suey Restaurant where it is pitch dark. Matches are lit showing
- At the end of the number the lights rise to
full. Gladys, on her way to becoming very tipsy, gives Sid the key to Haslers
accounts. A drunken Hines arrives carrying a knife and threatens Gladys, who berates him.
Hines slumps in the booth and imagines what married life would be like with her (JEALOUSY
BALLET- Comic Dance Sequence).
- The next morning in the office, Sid asks
Charlie, Joe, Babe and Prez to keep the union rally going until he gets there. As they
exit Gladys runs on seeking help; it seems Hines is chasing her around with a knife. As
she speaks, a knife hits the wall near Sids head and several others near Hasler. Sid
overpowers Hines and sends him with Gladys for medical aid. Sid tells Hasler he has
discovered that Hasler gave the workers their raise on the books, six months ago and
threatens to expose him unless he comes through with the raise. Hasler agrees.
- Meanwhile, on a street near the park, Prez
and Babe tell the striking workers that they have figured out the overall profit rate of
the proposed raise; the members are thrilled (SEVEN AND A HALF CENTS- Mixed Chorus). Sid
arrives to tell them they can have their raise and the workers run off to celebrate as
Babe and Sid deliriously express their love (I LOVE YOU MORE- M/F Duet).
- Hines, as the narrator, invites the audience
to a joint union/management party at Hernandos Hideaway, which is decorated for a
pajama party. A pajama fashion show curtain call is performed (FINALES- Mixed Chorus).
NOTES ON THE PRODUCTION
- Pajama Game won Tony Awards for Best
Featured Actress (Carol Haney), Musical, Producers, Authors, Composer, Lyricist, and
- The show is enjoyable and well-suited for
school groups and communities as there are a variety of characterization opportunities and
well known songs. The production is easily costumed, but not readily updated due to the
"Seven and a half cent raise" lyric requirement which allows for $1,705.48 to
buy a foreign car, and $3,411 to be real wealth. There are various dialogue sections which
refer to eighty cents an hour wages.
- The part of Gladys requires an excellent
dancer/comedienne while the roles of Prez, Hines, Mabel, and Mae require comedic character
actors who move well. The "Steam Heat" number requires two excellent male jazz
dancers and the leading players, Babe and Sid need dynamism and powerful voices.
- The sets may be trimmed and the "Pajama
Sampler" drop may be used to replace certain of the "in I" scenes or used
as a background throughout with set pieces placed to establish definite location.
- All in all, it is a fun show worthy of more
SONGS OF SPECIAL INTEREST
- "Ill Never Be Jealous Again," comic, soft shoe, lots
of actable specifics, good for focus work
- "Im Not At All in Love," vocally strong alto, shows
off voice, good for revue, or beginning choreographer
- "Small Talk," Alto/Baritone romantic duet, good for class
- "Steam Heat," 2M/F Trio, classic dance number, good for
revue or dance concert
- Instrumentation: 5 reeds, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, 4 violins, viola, cello, bass,
guitar, percussion, piano
- Script: Theatre Arts 1955, Random
- Score: Frank
- Record: Columbia
- Rights: MTI
- PAL JOEY
- Book: John OHara
- Music: Richard Rodgers
- Lyrics: Lorenz Hart
- Ethel Barrymore Theatre, Dec 25, 1940 (374 perf.)
- Director: George Abbott
- Choreographer: Robert Alton
- Joey- Gene Kelly- Baritone
- Gladys- June Havoc- Mezzo/Alto
- Vera Simpson- Vivienne Segal- Soprano
- Linda- Leila Ernst- Soprano
- Broadhurst Theatre, January 3, 1952 (542 perf.)
- Director: David Alexander & Robert Alton
- Choreographer: Robert Alton
- Musical Director: Max Meth
- Orchestration: Don Walker and Hans Spialek
- Joey- Harold Lang- Baritone
- Gladys- Helen Gallagher- Mezzo/Alto
- Vera Simpson- Vivienne Segal- Soprano
- Melba- Elaine Stritch- Alto
- Linda- Patricia Northrop- Soprano
- Chorus and Smaller Roles: 8M/8F minimum
- The beginning of the play introduces a cheap Chicago nightclub of the
late 30s, where Joey is auditioning for an emcee/singer job (CHICAGO- M Solo). Joey is a
smooth talker in his early 30s and loves to exaggerate his talents and personal
accomplishments. Through his convincing conversation with Mike, the nightclub owner, he
manages to get himself hired for a weeks engagement. Joey meets the girl dancers and
immediately tries to charm them, but his charm tactics lead him nowhere. Later, he
rehearses with the girls (YOU MUSNT KICK IT AROUND- L to M Solo).
- Later that evening Joey notices Linda English
talking to a small dog in a pet store window. He engages her in conversation by
fabricating incredible tales of a wealthy upbringing and a sudden loss of finances. She is
touched that he confided in her and Joey thanks her for inspiring him (I COULD WRITE A
BOOK- Sc to M/F Duet).
- In the nightclub while the girls are
performing (CHICAGO- F Chorus), Mrs. Vera Simpson, a very wealthy married woman, enters
with some friends and beckons Joey to her table. His rudeness, which both intrigues and
irritates her, causes her to leave. Mike, the owner, fires him, but Joey convinces Mike to
wait for two days; he is convinced Vera will be back. Gladys and the girls perform the
next song (THAT TERRIFIC RAINBOW- F Solo to F Chorus).
- Joey calls Vera, accuses her of getting him
fired, tells her to go to hell and hangs up. His behavior interests her (WHAT IS A MAN?- F
Solo). She appears at the club at closing time and, warning him not to cross her, tells
him to get his hat and coat. He goes to get his things and tells the dancers he is only
temporarily out of circulation (HAPPY HUNTING HORN- M Solo).
- Vera picks out fabric, in a tailor shop, for
Joeys custom-made suits and admits to herself that she is in love with him
(BEWITCHED, BOTHERED AND BEWILDERED- F Solo). When she discovers that Joey cares for Linda
English who is employed at the shop, she jealously causes Linda to believe she is
Joeys second wife. Linda, shocked to hear that Joey is married, angrily tells him
off, but Joey is unmoved (PAL JOEY- M Solo).
- As Act II begins, Vera backs Joey in a
nightclub venture and hires Mike and the girls to spruce the place up. The group rehearses
as Louis, the tenor sings (THE FLOWER GARDEN OF MY HEART- Mixed Chorus). Melba Snyder, a
famous newspaper reporter, comes to the club to interview Joey. She realizes the stories
of his background are all lies and tells him that her best interview was with Gypsy Rose
Lee. She proceeds to describe the classy strippers dialogue (ZIP- F Solo).
- A man named Ludlow Lowell comes into the club
and gives Joey a proposition: he will be his agent and guarantee Joey $50,000 a year if
Joey signs a contract. Joey signs without reading it, and Gladys cosigns. Joey agrees to
send his paychecks directly to Lowell for deposit into a special account, not realizing he
is being set up. A rehearsal number with Gladys and the ensemble begins (PLANT YOU NOW,
DIG YOU LATER- F Solo to Mixed Chorus).
- Later that evening, in Joeys apartment,
which Vera is paying for, Joey reads the opening night reviews and is upset that he
wasnt highlighted. Vera reassures him (IN OUR LITTLE DEN- Sc to M/F Duet).
- Linda, waiting at the club to deliver a
package for Joey, overhears Gladys and Lowell (who are boyfriend and girlfriend) talking
about their plan to blackmail Vera through the use of Joey. Linda leaves and Gladys goes
to rehearse a number that Mike has created (CHICAGO MOROCCO- M Solo).
- When Linda phones Joey to warn him that
Gladys and her boyfriend, Ludlow, are planning on blackmailing Vera, Vera insists on
talking to Linda. Joey attempts to assure her that he hasnt seen Linda, but Vera is
skeptical because Joey is such a liar. She accuses him of doing everything the hard way
and he comments on her suspicions (DO IT THE HARD WAY- M Solo). After Vera hears
Lindas story she questions why Linda is so concerned about someone she hasnt
been involved with and urges Linda to take Joey (TAKE HIM- Sc to F Duet). Linda replies
that Vera should keep Joey for she isnt interested.
- Lowell and Gladys enter to get $20,000 in
exchange for not revealing Joey and Veras affair to Mr. Simpson. Vera isnt
upset, for she is friends with police Commissioner Jack OBrien who arrives to escort
Lowell and Gladys out of town. When Vera informs Joey their affair is over and closes his
bank account, Joey orders her to leave his apartment.
- Linda finds Joey in front of the pet store;
apparently Vera sent her. He rejects her offer of supper and tells her he is leaving for
New York. She realizes he cant get involved in a meaningful relationship and both
exit in opposite directions.
NOTES ON THE PRODUCTION
- The original show, which starred Gene Kelly,
was short-lived, primarily due to the subject matter and the anti-hero quality of Joey. It
opened to mixed reviews and wasnt popular among pre-war audiences who wanted more
light-hearted musicals. The revival, in 1952 was warmly received and won the following
Tony Awards: Conductor, Choreographer and Supporting Actress (Helen Gallagher). It might
have been even more successful had it not been competing with The King & I.
- The show is not expensive to mount as most of
the action takes place in two nightclubs; the first in Mikes lower class club and
the second in Chez Joey which may be an upgraded version of Mikes. Secondary sets
are the pet shop exterior, a phone booth, a tailor shop, and Veras boudoir, which
could consist of a phone table and an elegant side chair, tightly lit. Special attention
must be given to Joeys apartment, for several scenes and songs take place there. If
offstage storage space is a problem for wagon use, it may be possible to have a section of
the nightclub revolve to be the apartment.
- The play was originally set in the 30s but
may be upgraded if costumes of that period are a problem. There are quite a few nightclub
show costumes for the chorus girls and Vera must be opulently dressed in a new outfit per
scene. Tuxedos for the men are a requirement for the Chez Joey sequences.
- The tempos on the Harold Lang record seem
slow for a modern day audience and may have to be brighter to hold the musical and
dramatic interest. The music is popular and much of it is well known. Those familiar with
the movie will realize that the songs in the club were more familiar Rodgers and Hart
melodies than those originally written for the stage play. Companies may want to consider
writing for permission to use more familiar songs in order to maintain audience
- Vera, played by Vivienne Segal in both the
original and the revival, is a soprano role, which is unusual by modern standards. Most of
the modern day older, "leading-lady sophisticate" shows seem to be written for
altos. In light of this, companies, considering a production, may want to cast someone who
can sing the part down, or, in cases of a smaller orchestra, rewrite the role for the
- The show is worthy of more productions and is
a good vehicle for companies who have women who need good roles. It is a good university
show for the parts are challenging and require good acting. The role of Joey, a despicable
character, originated by Gene Kelly, is difficult to play. He must be a charming rogue who
can appeal to women of all ages, yet be talented enough to act as a mediocre
singer/dancer. Vera is a perfect counterpoint to Joey but their scenes must be tightly
directed to be believable.
SONGS OF SPECIAL INTEREST
- "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered," although written for
a soprano the number seems more to fit the older woman alto voice, good for character
- "I Could Write a Book," Romantic duet, lovely melody, charm
- "Take Him," Soprano Duet, Veras part could be sung
down for more variety, tempo may need to be faster than record for modern day interest,
good situation and scene into song for class study
- "That Terrific Rainbow," Alto Solo, up-tempo, large
volumed, club style
- Instrumentation: 5 reeds, horn, 3 trumpets, trombone, percussion, 3 violins, cello,
- Script: Random House, Popular Library
- Score: Chappell
- Record: Columbia
- Rights: R & H
- Book and Lyrics: W. S. Gilbert
- Music: Arthur Sullivan
- Standard Theatre, September 22, 1881 (578 perf.)
- Colonel Calverley- W. T. Carelton- Baritone
- Major Murgatroyd- A. Wilkinson- Tenor
- Lieutenant, The Duke of Dunstable- Tenor
- Reginald Bunthorne- J.H. Ryley- Baritone
- Archibald Grosvenor- James Barton- Tenor
- Lady Angela- Alice Burville- Alto
- Lady Saphir- Soprano
- Lady Jane- Augusta Rooke- Alto
- Patience- Carrie Burton- Soprano
- Chorus and Smaller Roles: 8M/8F Minimum
- The show opens as a train of languid young
ladies draped in aesthetic coverings paint, play on lutes and sing. All are in the last
stages of despair for their unrequited love of Reginald Bunthorne, the "Fleshly
Poet" (TWENTY LOVE-SICK MAIDENS WE- F Chorus). The ladies, Angela, Saphir and Ella,
are comforted with the thoughts that, though they are rivals for Reginald, the
hopelessness of their love bonds them to one another. The mature Lady Jane tells them that
Reginald is indeed in love with someone, but it is none other than the village milkmaid,
Patience! Patience has boasted of never loving anyone, and does not understand what it
even means (I CANNOT TELL WHAT THIS LOVE MAY BE- F Solo). Patience informs the ladies that
their old beaus, the 35th Dragoon Guards, are on their way there. However, the maidens
care nothing for the Dragoon Guards now and leave, pining for Reginald.
- The Dragoon Guards enter, led by the Major.
They fall into line as the Major sings about some of the remarkable people in history who
have "residuumed" into the Dragoon Guards (THE SOLDIERS OF OUR QUEEN- M Solo and
M Chorus). Bunthorne enters with the Ladies following adoringly (IN A DOLEFUL TRAIN- M/F
Solo and M/F Chorus). He is composing a poem, and is quite absorbed. Much to the dismay of
the Dragoons, the Ladies take no notice of them. The Ladies implore the Dragoons, who are
not at all in the league of their Reginald, to become a bit aesthetic, or at the very
least Early English, starting with their uniforms. The Dragoons, however, are quite
satisfied with their uniforms (WHEN I FIRST PUT THIS UNIFORM ON- Sc to M Solo to M
- Bunthorne finds he is alone and changes his
manner as he reveals that he is an aesthetic sham, caring only for the adoration being
"aesthetic" brings to him (AM I ALONE AND UNOBSERVED- M Solo). Patience enters
and Bunthorne reveals to her his love and his true imperfect self. Patience refuses him
and asks Lady Angela for advice on the matter of love. Lady Angela explains that love is
purity, refinement and, most importantly, the most unselfish emotion there is. Hearing
that, Patience sets about to love at once. She confides to Angela that when she was young
there was one she believed she loved (LONG YEARS AGO, FOURTEEN MAYBE- Sc to F Duet).
- As Patience sets forth to fall in love, a
stranger enters (PRITHEE, PRETTY MAIDEN- M/F Duet). The stranger is her one love from
childhood, Archibald Grosvenor, an "Idyllic Poet," perfect in every way. He is
so perfect in fact, it would be unpardonable for Patience to love him; for there would be
nothing unselfish in loving such a man as he. Archibald may however love Patience for she
is not perfection. Thus they part from each other despondent as the Act I Finale begins
(ACT I FINALE- M/F Solo to Mixed Chorus).
- Heartbroken by Patiences refusal,
Bunthorne has put himself up to be raffled off among the maidens. Patience enters to stop
the raffle and offers herself to Bunthorne. She explains that she has not loved him from
afar but that true love must be without alloy. The maidens, realizing they have no hope to
win Reginald, return to their former beaus declaring their everlasting love. As the
Dragoons and Ladies are embracing, Grosvenor enters. Being of god-like grace as well as
aesthetic, the Ladies break away from the Dragoons and kneel to Grosvenor, declaring their
devotion to him.
- Act II opens with Jane continuing her
faithful vigil to Reginald, but she worries that he will not secure her before her charms
are gone (SAD IS THAT WOMANS LOT- F Solo). The other Ladies are now in full vigil to
Archibald the All Right (TURN OH TURN IN THIS DIRECTION- F Chorus). Grosvenor explains to
the ladies he cannot return their love and prays they remember the fable of the Magnet and
the Churn (A MAGNET HUNG IN A HARDWARE SHOP- Sc to M Solo).
- Patience is true to Bunthorne yet still longs
for Grosvenor and is saddened by the bitter experience of love (LOVE IS A PLAINTIVE SONG-
F Solo). Jane goads Bunthorne to meet Grosvenor and beat him on his own ground (SO GO TO
HIM AND SAY TO HIM- Sc to F/M Solo).
- The Duke, Colonel, and Major enter. They have
abandoned their uniforms and are dressed and made up in imitation of Aesthetics. They have
long hair, and other signs of attachment to the brotherhood. As they sing, they walk in
stiff, constrained, and angular attitudes a grotesque exaggeration of the attitudes
adopted by Bunthorne and the Ladies in Act I (ITS CLEAR THAT MEDIAEVAL ART- M Trio).
Angela and Saphir are moved by their act of reform, and now they must all decide who will
be paired with whom (IF SAPHIR I CHOOSE TO MARRY- 3M/2F Quintet).
- After Bunthorne threatens to curse Grosvenor,
Grosvenor agrees to make a complete change and become absolutely commonplace (WHEN I GO
OUT OF DOOR- Sc to M Duet). With Reginald now reformed, (modeling himself upon Grosvenor),
Patience cannot love him for he would be too perfect for love to be true. Grosvenor enters
with his hair cut and dressed in an ordinary suit and hat as the Ladies follow. They all
dance cheerfully round the stage in marked contrast to their former languor (IM A
WATERLOO HOUSE YOUNG MAN- M Solo to F Chorus).
- Bunthorne asks what all this normalcy means
as Angela explains that Archibald the All Right cannot be all wrong; and if the All Right
chooses to discard aestheticism, it proves that aestheticism ought to be discarded.
Realizing Archibald is a commonplace man, Patience is now finally free to love him. As all
are paired up it looks as though Bunthorne will end up with Jane until the Duke declares
he himself ought to choose the one lady who has the misfortune to be distinctly plain-
Jane! Hence, Bunthorne is left alone and nobody will be Bunthornes bride (AFTER MUCH
DEBATE INTERNAL- Finale Chorus).
NOTES ON THE PRODUCTION
During its initial American run, Patience
proved to be the most profitable of the Gilbert and Sullivan musicals to date, even
surpassing H.M.S. Pinafore. Gilbert and Sullivan companies would do well to add
this show to its repertoire of the major three The Mikado, H.M.S Pinafore, and Pirates
SONGS OF SPECIAL INTEREST
- "In a Doleful Train," Mixed Chorus good for classroom work
and beginning director dealing with two different situations at once
- "Sad Is That Womans Lot," Alto Solo, comedic, good
for "mature" woman, should be a bit stylized
- "Love Is a Plaintive Song," Sweet ingenue soprano solo,
shows off vocal ability good for audition situations
- "Its Clear That Medieval Art," great male trio highly
stylized spoof of aestheticism
- Instrumentation: Usually done with two pianos to save on expenses. Various publishing
houses Chappell etc. have Gilbert and Sullivan material for a royalty
- Script: Included in Score
Score: Chappell and in public domain
- Record: CD: Decca
Rights: Chappell but may find original at libraries
- Book and Lyrics: Oscar Hammerstein II
- Music: Richard Rodgers
- Shubert Theatre, November 30, 1955 (246 perf.)
- Director: Harold Clurman
- Musical Director: Salvatore dellIsola
- Orchestration: Robert Russell Bennett
- Doc- William Johnson- Baritone
- Millicent-Jayne Heller- VTNE
- Suzy- Judy Tyler- Soprano
- Hazel- Mike Kellin- Baritone/Bass
- Mac- G.D. Wallace- Tenor
- Fauna- Helen Traubel- Soprano
- Jim Blaikey- Rufus Smith- Baritone
- Chorus and Smaller Roles: 6F/10M minimum
- The play opens in the early morning at the
western Biological lab, which is cluttered with bottles, jars, books and art
reproductions. Doc is busy at work when Hazel, his burly, slow-witted male helper who
lives in a nearby flophouse, arrives. Hazel tries to comprehend everything Doc tells him,
but finds it difficult to understand how knowledge of starfish can help learn more about
man. Doc attempts to make his point clearer by showing how man must accept the
peculiarities of nature (ALL KINDS OF PEOPLE- M Solo).
- Docs girlfriend, Millicent, enters from
the bedroom, amazed that he is awake at 5 a.m. and working on his experiments. Mac, a
friend of Docs, enters with Suzy, a pretty girl of twenty-one who cut her hand
stealing some food from a store window. Doc fixes her hand and invites her to stay as long
as she likes, though he has to leave to find some specimens (THE TIDE POOL- 3M Trio).
Suzy, extremely outspoken with a surface hardness and abrasive quality, tells Doc he is
wasting his time living with snakes and bugs and speculates that he is afraid of life. She
is also angered that he is involved with Millicent, whom she terms a bum. She and Doc
begin to argue, for they are attracted to each other terribly, but afraid of involvement.
Suzy goads Doc into explaining his work, which presently involves catching an octopus for
the science of invertebratology. He forcefully tells her he plans on writing a paper and
presenting it to a scientific society and leaves in anger. Mac warns her to lay off Doc
because the town loves him and is very protective of his skills and ideas.
- An intrigued Suzy asks him about Doc and his
women and recounts her trip from San Francisco (EVERYBODYS GOT A HOME BUT ME- F
Solo). Fauna, the warm-hearted manager of the Bear Flag Cafe across the way, enters to
have Doc test some illegal whiskey. She is introduced to Suzy. Fauna apologizes for not
being able to offer the obviously destitute girl a job, but the recent closing of the
cannery has caused a decline in business. Fauna changes her mind when Jim Blaikey, a
plain-clothes cop, enters to advise Suzy to get out of town. Jim is surprised that Fauna
would involve herself with someone as hard edged as Suzy.
- A few weeks later, in front of an in one drop
depicting Cannery Row, Jim Blaikey is watching over things when Mac stops to chat about
Docs desire to write his paper. The scene switches to the Palace Flophouse where the
men are gathered to discuss the change that has come over Doc since Suzy trapped him into
writing a paper. When Hazel tries to come to Docs defense, the flophouse gang drinks
to his loyalty. They philosophically comment on where their lives are going and compare it
to the unevenness of a lopsided bus (LOPSIDED BUS- Small Chorus).
- Fauna enters the flophouse and announces that
Hazels horoscope said he would become President of the US. Joe, the Mexican man who
owns the flophouse, arrives with his friend, Pancho, who gives a sample of his trumpet
playing and Fauna invites him to play at the cafe (BUMS OPERA- M/F Solos and
- In front of the Cannery Row drop, Mac
explains to Hazel that he wants to raffle off the flophouse in order to raise money for
Docs microscope, which Doc needs for higher level experiments. Hazel is confused,
for Joe is the new legal owner of the flophouse, but Mac is certain that Joe doesnt
know he bought two adjacent buildings. They are convinced that he only thinks he bought
the cafe. They question Joe and discover Macs theory is right and convince him to
sell fifty raffle tickets.
- Suzy has been spending a lot of time cleaning
and cooking at Docs and he is quite bothered that she has changed him (THE MAN I
USED TO BE- M Solo). When Fauna comes to ask him to take Suzy in because she is having a
big party at her Cafe and doesnt want Suzy to ruin it with her abrasive comments, he
refuses. However, he agrees to take her to dinner for one night which pleases Fauna (SWEET
- The girls are relaxing in a room at the Cafe
while Suzy is by the window staring at an old boiler, which an old couple used to live in.
Fauna arrives and begins to query her about her feelings for Doc, who phones to ask Suzy
to dinner. She agrees but is frightened at the prospect, for she considers herself to be
mentally inferior. Fauna calms her and builds her confidence by making her repeat positive
phrases about herself (SUZY IS A GOOD THING- F Duet).
- On Cannery Row, everyone is spreading the
news about Doc and Suzy. Doc takes Suzy to Sonny Boys Pier Restaurant, where she
slowly and carefully attempts to act like a well-mannered girl. Doc enjoys her company
and, as the two become romantic, Esteban sings a Spanish song which Doc translates into
English (ALL AT ONCE YOU LOVE HER- 2M/F Trio). The two slowly exit to the moonlit beach as
the curtain falls.
- At the opening of Act II, the girls are
nursing their hangovers. Fauna enters to show them the Cafes Christmas card
selection. They are surprised, for it is still July. When Fauna holds out a picture of the
house, the girls agree it is an appropriate reminder for their customers, but requests
that they be sent to the men at their offices (HAPPIEST HOUSE ON THE BLOCK- F Chorus).
After the girls exit, Suzy tells Fauna that Doc is searching for a wife, but she feels she
isnt good enough. The older woman convinces her to try to win him at the masquerade
ball the following night. The girls return, excited about the upcoming party, and are
joined by the chorus (THE PARTY THAT WERE GOING TO HAVE TOMORROW NIGHT- Mixed
- The boys are gathered at the flophouse to
practice palming the raffle card with Docs name. Their plan is to have Doc win and
give him the money in exchange for the building. Everyone begins entering in various
costumes, obviously homemade, but hilariously creative. Doc wins the raffle, surprisingly,
and the show, provided by Fauna and the girls, begins.
- Suzy, portraying Snow White, is constantly
pushed in the direction of Doc by Fauna who joins her in song (WILL YOU MARRY ME?- M/2F
Trio). Doc goes along as Prince Charming, but, when Suzy runs off in humiliation, Doc
shares the same feelings and escapes in the other direction.
- The next day, Suzy approaches Jim Blaikey for
some cash so she can leave Faunas and live in the boiler. Pleased that she has
changed so much, he agrees to the loan. Hazel enters, still confused about Docs
reaction to Suzy, and admits that he has trouble thinking (THINKIN- M Solo).
- Fauna tries to get Doc to admit that he loves
Suzy, who is proving her independence by beautifully decorating the boiler, but he is
afraid of a relationship. However, he comes to her rescue when he sees Joe trying to force
his way into the boiler. Fauna watches him run off and philosophically sings (ALL AT ONCE
YOU LOVER HER [REPRISE]- F Solo). The next evening, everyone on Cannery Row is waiting to
see if Doc is going to visit Suzy. When he enters with flowers to announce that his is
scared, everyone begins giving him advice on how to handle the invitation (HOW LONG- Mixed
- Inside Suzys "apartment," Doc
discovers that she has gained pride in herself and now knows what she wants from life. She
explains that she has him to thank. He echoes her sentiment (THE NEXT TIME IT HAPPENS- Sc
to M/F Duet). After he leaves, there is a knock at the door. It is Hazel, who tries to
find a way to get Suzy to Docs. She admits that she would come if Doc were sick or
had a broken arm and his face lights up as he exits.
- At the laboratory, Doc is being treated for a
broken arm he received while asleep. Suzys arrival forces him to realize he needs
her and wants to marry her. Hazel and Mac, who have been watching though the keyhole, rush
in, followed by the company who congratulate the couple (SWEET THURSDAY [FINALE]-
NOTES ON THE PRODUCTION
- This unusual show is not as familiar as many
of the other Rodgers and Hammerstein productions. This unusual show is not as familiar as
many of the other Rodgers and Hammerstein productions but may have grown in popularity due
to the TV airing of Cannery Row. The characters are interesting and one can quickly
become wrapped up in the story of Doc and Suzy. The secondary characters are real
"character roles" and would be good for an older company with good
- The music is pure Rodgers: lilting, character
oriented and arising naturally from the plot. Companies using a smaller orchestration may
want to consider changing the vocal type of Fauna from soprano to alto to minimalize the
operatic sound of her character. It is unusual to have two sopranos in the leading
womens roles and a rearranging of her part would lend more vocal variety.
- If Faunas role remains a soprano, it is
recommended that some of her songs be judiciously edited, cut or varied by adding more
voices where possible. A professional company may want to consider revamping the
orchestrations to give them a more modern sound that might be more pleasing to
todays theatre goers.
SONGS OF SPECIAL INTEREST
- "All at Once," Baritone Solo, lovely ballad, now a
standard, sung by Doc as an interpretation of a Mexican song
- "Everybodys Got a Home But Me," Alto, standard
ballad, good for club, lovely melody, haunting lyrics, potential tear jerker, Suzy sings a
factual song, suited for any vocal type, audition potential
- "The Man I Used to Be," Baritone, charm song, some soft
shoe, nice up-tempo higher voiced song, breezy tempo, possible for a second song in an
audition situation where a strong singer was trying to show light-heartedness and movement
- "The Next Time It Happens," Baritone/Mezzo or Alto, Sc to
duet, good for class study, Suzy and Doc say goodbye to each other, strong subtext of two
people saying goodbye who want to stay together
- Orchestration: 3 reeds, 2 horns, trumpet, trombone, percussion, 2 violins, viola, cello,
- Script: Viking Press
- Score: Williamson
Rights: R and H
- Book: Roger O. Hirson
- Music and Lyrics: Stephen Schwartz
- The Imperial Theatre, October 23, 1972 (1,944 perf.)
- Director and Choreographer: Bob Fosse
- Musical Director: Stanley LeBowsky
- Orchestration: Ralph Burns
- Leading Player- Ben Vereen- Baritone
- Pippin- John Rubenstein- Tenor
- Charles- Eric Berry- Baritone
- Lewis- Christopher Chadman- Baritone
- Fastrada- Leland Palmer- Mezzo
- Berthe- Irene Ryan- Alto
- Catherine- Jill Clayburgh- Mezzo
- Theo- Shane Nickerson- Boy Soprano
- Chorus and Smaller Roles: 5M/5F
- The show opens with the Leading Player and
his theatrical company "Players" informing the audience of the action that will
occur (MAGIC TO DO- M Solo and Mixed Chorus). The play takes place during
Charlemagnes reign over the Roman Empire. The Leading Player tells the audience the
subject of their tale: "Pippin, His Life and Times." This makes for a play
within a play effect. Pippin appears on the scene with his promise not to waste his life
in ordinary tasks yet by doing so, Pippin cant seem to fit in. He must always seek
an extraordinary occupation which will let his "spirit run free" (CORNER OF THE
SKY- M Solo).
- The Leading Player magically transforms the
scene to the royal court of Charles the Great. Pippin arrives home from his studies in
Padva and converses with his father about Charles power. Pippin is restless for his
own fame. The Leading Player then introduces Lewis, Pippins half-brother who is
concerned only with the physical. His pumped-up ego matches his physique. Lewis boasts of
his magnificent war record and vows to slaughter even more Visigoths, a nation soon to be
at war with the Roman Empire. Fastrada, Pippins devious stepmother, is next to
welcome Pippin home. Her one ambition is to see her son, Lewis, in control of the throne.
After Fastrada criticizes Pippins posture, she and Lewis depart, leaving Charles
alone again with his son. The welcoming talk between father and son is awkward and leaves
Pippin unsatisfied (WELCOME HOME- Sc to M Duet). Charlemagnes words of wisdom only
confuse Pippin more and he is left with the feeling that life has no direction.
- When he sees the country preparing for war
against the Visigoths, Pippin, who wants to capture glory, asks his father if he can join
in the battle and Charles agrees. In a tent near the battlefield Charles lectures his Army
on the science of war (WAR IS A SCIENCE- M Solo and Mixed Chorus). The inexperienced
Pippin constantly interrupts his father in his enthusiasm to win the battle. Annoyed and
worried at Pippins attitude, Charles views his sons behavior with disapproval,
but Pippin assures him he will do well.
- Lewis, Pippin and Charlemagne, along with the
soldiers, leave to wage war and the Leading Player enters and sings of the glory of war as
various battle scenes are acted out (GLORY- M Solo and Mixed Chorus). Service to Christ
and lust for blood are oddly intertwined as the battle continues. Glory becomes grotesque
as limbs and bodies litter the stage and Pippin, somewhat overcome by the death that
surrounds him, cannot partake in the raping and pillaging of the Visigoths that follows
the victory. Although Charles insists that Pippin join the rest of the army in song and
dance, Pippin lags behind to reflect upon war. Finding a dismembered head, he converses
with it and realizes that war is not what he is searching for.
- The Leading Player comments on Pippins
life as the set changes into a country setting in the great outdoors (SIMPLE JOYS- M
Solo). Next to arrive on the set is Berthe, Pippins spry grandmother, who is
surrounded by four young male admirers. She advises Pippin to get fresh air, home cooking
and even, perhaps, a little fun with women (NO TIME AT ALL- F Solo and M Chorus). Pippin
temporarily gives up his quest for the "extraordinary" as he occupies himself
with several girls (WITH YOU- M Solo to Chorus Dance). Pippin is overwhelmed but
unfulfilled and so he turns to politics and defending the people against the tyranny of
his own father.
- The Leading Player mischievously manipulates
Pippin into starting a revolution, which immensely pleases Fastrada who has plans for her
son Lewis to gain the throne. She sings of her philosophy to Lewis (SPREAD A LITTLE
SUNSHINE- Sc to F Solo, Lewis needed for staging).
- Fastrada informs Charles of Pippins
disloyalty, but Charles is unimpressed so she suggests that he go to church to pray. She
later informs Pippin of his fathers plan and Pippin, disguised as a priest,
confronts Charles at a church in Arles. When he accuses him of slaughtering peasants,
Charlemagne explains it is necessary to shed blood to preserve order and prays for
strength. Pippin stabs his father and becomes king (MORNING GLOW- Mixed Chorus).
- The Act II curtain opens on the same scene
that closed Act I (MORNING GLOW [REPRISE]- Mixed Chorus). The Players congratulate the new
king, Pippin, who gives land to the peasants, abolishes taxes, and dissolves his army.
This idealistic government, however, is short lived since, upon hearing of an attack on
his country, Pippin remobilizes his army and must tax the lords to run it. The lords, in
turn, must take the land away from the peasants in order to have tax money. Pippins
reign collapses and he begs Charlemagne to take back the crown. Surprisingly, with a
little magic, Charles comes to life and Pippin apologizes to his father.
- The discouraged Pippin still longs for
meaning in his life and the Leading Player tells him he is headed in the right direction
(ON THE RIGHT TRACK- Sc to M Duet). Ironically, as the Leading Player gets more and more
encouraging, Pippin sinks deeper and deeper into despair. His disillusionment leads him to
collapse in a heap. He is found by Catherine, a wealthy widow, along with her small son,
Theo, and his pet duck.
- As an act of charity, Catherine nurses Pippin
back to health. When he is well enough, she introduces herself as an ordinary, but
terrific girl (KIND OF WOMAN- L to F Solo with F Choral Backup). Catherine convinces
Pippin to stay and work on her estate but somehow his heart is not in it. He grows tired
of manual labor and feels there is something more (EXTRAORDINARY- M Solo). He is preparing
to leave when Theos pet gets sick. Pippin prays for the duck (PRAYER FOR A DUCK- M
Solo) in vain, for the duck dies. Theo is heartbroken and Pippin goes to all measures to
raise the boys spirits. Catherine is pleased to see him trying so hard and the two
fall in love (LOVE SONG- M/F Duet). The love spell is soon broken when Pippin realizes how
ordinary his life has become and he decides to leave. Catherine quietly comments on his
idiosyncrasies (ILL MISS THE MAN- F Solo).
- Pippin greets the Leading Player who invites
Pippin to join in the Finale, a magic trick of fire that will supposedly give Pippin glory
with a flash. The other players rush on the set with a firebox, which they demonstrate for
Pippin. They try to lure him into the firebox to achieve his final perfection, thus
fulfilling the tragic plot they laid out for Pippin (FINALE- Mixed Chorus). Mesmerized by
the chanting and the trickery, Pippin starts to be conned into obeying their will, but he
realizes that he does no want this grand finale. He concludes that he must have ties to
give meaning to his life. At this point, Catherine and Theo appear and the three stand
together, hand in hand. The players leave in disgust as Pippin sings happily without
music, stage lights or elaborate costumes.
NOTES ON THE PRODUCTION
- Pippin won five Tony Awards in 1973
for Best Actor (Ben Vereen), Director, Choreographer, Lighting Design and Scenic Design.
- The musical, performed in the Commedia style,
was imaginatively directed and choreographed by Bob Fosse and deftly performed by the
talented Ben Vereen.
- Because the success of this show relies so
heavily on the talents of the leading player, colleges and universities may consider
dividing the leading player part into two characters. It allows for more musical variety
and staging, as it leaves room for trios and duets in a show that is solo heavy. It also
adds a new dimension to this rather thin book.
- The show may be as sparse or elaborate as a
company can afford because it requires few sets and only one costume per player with add
on pieces. Because of minimal set requirements (an opening curtain, a drop or cut out
section for the church, a bed that doubles as a tree or table, a war map and a fire box)
it is necessary to have extremely tight lighting and elaborate props for the special
effects. The show is supposed to be highly theatrical in tone and needs to have a
consistent "look" in order for the audience to remain "caught up" in
the performing style.
- It is a crowd pleaser, demanding yet fun for
the performers who must all sing and dance competently. Plan on extra weeks of rehearsal
with the choreographer because there are a lot of dance numbers. In its original form, a
few of the more sensually oriented numbers become overly uncomfortable for some audience
members. It is possible to style this production for more of a family tone, if desired,
without losing the music, story or result.
SONGS OF SPECIAL INTEREST
- "Magic to Do," Small Chorus, good for revue opening
- "Corner of the Sky," Tenor solo, introspective, searching,
can use movement
- "No Time At All," Good character solo, especially when
tempo is slowed so lyrics and character are more easily understood, adaptable to one woman
show on aging
- "I Guess Ill Miss the Man," Mezzo/Alto, pleasant
ballad, allows for some acting to show, possible audition piece
- "On the Right Track," solid movement oriented, male duet,
up-tempo, for showcase and class use
- Instrumentation: 8 reeds, 1 french horn, 1 trumpet, 2 trombone, 1 guitar, 1 violin, 1
viola, 1 cello, 1 harp, 1 harpsichord, 1 organ, percussion, drums, 1 electric bass
- Script: Bard
- Selections: CPP/Belwin
- Record: Motown
- Rights: MTI
PLAIN AND FANCY
- Book: Joseph Stein and Will Glickman
- Music: Albert Hague
- Lyrics: Arnold B. Horwitt
- Winter Garden, January 28, 1955 (461 perf.)
- Director: Morton DaCosta
- Dances and Musical Numbers: Helen Tamiris
- Musical Director: Franz Allers
- Orchestration: Philip J. Lang
- Ruth Winters- Shirl Conway- Alto
- Emma Miller- Nancy Andrews- Alto
- Dan King- Richard Derr- Baritone
- Peter- David Daniels- Tenor
- Katie Yoder- Gloria Marlowe- Soprano
- Papa Yoder- Stefan Schnabel- Baritone
- Ezra Reber- Douglas Fletcher Rodgers- Baritone
- Hilda Miller- Barbara Cook- Soprano
- Chorus and Smaller Roles: 12M/12F and 2F Children minimum
- Dan King, a worldly New Yorker whose
grandfather has left him a farm in the Amish Country of Pennsylvania, travels with his
girlfriend, Ruth Winters, to inspect the area. The two become totally confused by the road
signs that lead to Bird-In-Hand and inquire at a local gas station for directions (YOU
CANT MISS IT- M/F Duet to Mixed Chorus).
- Papa Yoder and his daughter Katie, returning
from Lancaster, pass their Amish neighbors working in the fields. Katie, who is to be
married in two days, marvels at the beauty of the countryside (IT WONDERS ME- Sc to F Solo
to Mixed Chorus). As they exit, Dan and Ruth enter, still looking for the Yoder farm. Dan
receives more directions and he and Ruth wearily walk toward the farm.
- In the Yoder yard, the everyone is preparing
for the coming wedding and commenting on the bountiful crops that grow on their lands
(PLENTY OF PENNSYLVANIA- Mixed Chorus). Dan and Ruth are greeted by Hilda, an attractive,
easily impressed girl, who takes them to meet her uncle, Jacob Yoder.
- Peter, a headstrong Amish boy, in love with
Katie since childhood, has been sent to his Aunts for fighting. When he hears about
Katies impending marriage to his brother, Ezra, he returns to tell her he still
loves her (YOUNG AND FOOLISH- Sc to M Solo). Katie, who still loves Peter, is afraid to
get involved and runs off.
- Ruth and Dan are invited into the parlor,
introduced to the family members and asked to stay in the house until Dans farm can
be sold. They are escorted to their rooms. When the men ask Ezra how he feels about Katie
he tells them his only interest is in marrying someone attractive who can cook and raise
children (ILL MARRY KATIE- Sc to M Chorus).
- Dan finds Katie outside the house and asks
her for directions to his farm. She volunteers to take him and the scene shifts to show
the outside of Dans barn where Peter is painting a bluebird for Katie. Dan,
realizing the two need to be alone, leaves. Katie promises to convince her father that she
should marry Peter (YOUNG AND FOOLISH [REPRISE]- F/M Sc to Duet to Mixed Dance Chorus).
- Ruth, whose bedroom is far from Dans,
realizes she isnt adjusting well to life without drinking, smoking or indoor
plumbing. She sings about the stupidity of her affair with Dan (HELLUVA WAY TO RUN A LOVE
AFFAIR- F Solo).
- Hilda, curious to know more about Dan enters
to talk to Ruth. When Ruth goes to wash up in the kitchen Dan enters and asks Hilda about
Peter and Katie. Hilda, infatuated with Dan, assumes, when he gives her a brotherly kiss,
that they are in love (THIS IS ALL VERY NEW TO ME- Sc to F Solo F Quartet). As she sings
the scene shifts to the Yoder yard and a trio of girls sings with her.
- The guests are arriving for tomorrows
wedding. Dan, discovering that Mr. Yoder wants to buy his grandfathers farm as a
wedding present for Katie and Ezra, tells Mr. Yoder that Katie loves Peter and it is wrong
to force her to marry Ezra. Yoder angrily responds that it is the Amish way (PLAIN WE
LIVE- M Solo with M Chorus).
- Dan is approached by Peter, who wants to buy
the farm, but Ezra interrupts and needles Peter into fighting. Peter is blamed for
starting the fight and shunned by the community. Lightning strikes Dans barn and
Papa Yoder is convinced Peters hex sign on the barn was meant to bring disaster to
Ezra and Katie. The act ends with Peter alone onstage.
- As the curtain rises on Act II, the Amish
build a new barn, demonstrating the swift results of community effort (HOW DO YOU RAISE A
BARN?- Mixed Chorus). After everyone leaves, Peter enters to tell Katie he is leaving the
community and privately begs her to go with him (FOLLOW YOUR HEART- Sc to M Solo). She
runs to Hilda who agrees with Peter that Katie would be happier marrying for love (FOLLOW
YOUR HEART [REPRISE]- F Duet).
- Meanwhile, in the Yoder kitchen, Ruth,
determined to manipulate Dan into marriage by learning how to cook his favorite dishes,
gives up in confusion. Emma and the girls comment on the difference between city girls and
country girls (CITY MOUSE-COUNTRY MOUSE- F Solo to Small F Chorus).
- Hilda, finding Dan alone on the porch, begins
to talk about marriage. Dan gently attempts to tell her she must marry someone from the
same background, not a city person. She is brokenhearted and rushes off crying.
- Ezra helps Ruth unlock her hatbox where she
keeps her liquor supply and begins drinking. In a matter of seconds he is totally drunk.
Hilda is appalled to discover a very drunk Ezra in Ruths bedroom. He decides to go
to the carnival in Lancaster and see some girlie shows. Ruth follows him out as Hilda
decides Lancaster is a good place to become citified. In a humorous song, she dresses in
Ruths clothes and attempts to look like a woman of the world (ILL SHOW HIM- Sc
to F Solo).
- In front of a landscape traveler, Ruth finds
Peter and tells him about Ezra. Peter agrees to bring his brother home before he shames
the family and Katie.
- At the fair, various midway shows are on view
(SCRANTON SALLY- F Chorus and Dance). Hilda and Ezra get their fill of city ways when they
get involved in a fight with Mambo Joe and a sailor. Peter, overcomes Mambo Joe, who has a
knife at Ezras throat, and Hilda escapes for home.
- Meanwhile, outside the Yoder kitchen, Ruth
has just finished making one of Dans favorite Amish dishes. Dan, realizing at last
that she has always worked to please him, admits he loves her and wants to marry her.
Hilda tells Dan and Ruth about the Carnival and her future plan to marry an Amish boy and
they urge her to choose wisely (TAKE YOUR TIME, TAKE YOUR PICK- Sc to 2F/M Trio).
- Early the next morning, a drunken Ezra enters
and Papa Yoder refuses to let Katie marry a drunk. When Peter arrives, escorted by a
policeman who arrested him for fighting at the Carnival, Papa Yoder discovers that Peter
fought to save his brother from shame. Peter, now the owner of Dans farm, asks
permission to marry Katie. Papa Yoder agrees and the wedding procession begins (FINALE-
NOTES ON THE PRODUCTION
- The show is an enjoyable one that relies on
much of its humor from character contrasts. There are quite a few good parts for women,
especially the roles of Ruth, Hilda, and Emma. The dance requirements are minimal,
although the barn raising sequence in the second act relies heavily on a clever set
designer. It is a show worth examining and an excellent choice for high schools searching
for something charming and unusual.
- The original production had a great many sets
but these are easily combined to simplify the scenic costs. The major sets necessary for
the production are: the Yoder yard with the porch of the house, a section of the road, the
barnyard of Dans farm, Ruths bedroom, kitchen of the Yoder house and the
carnival. If backstage space is limited, the kitchen scene could be moved to the yard
area, if there was an area for outside cooking. For those wanting to minimize set
movement, it would be possible to angle the Yoder house, stage right, and have a section
of it revolve to be Ruths room, and later a section of the kitchen. In this manner,
the barn could move on from stage left and be delineated as a separate farm by lighting.
The parlor scenes could all be played on the porch area.
- The costumes, except for Ruths, may be
the same throughout.
SONGS OF SPECIAL INTEREST
- "City Mouse, Country Mouse," Class potential, small F
chorus, comic lyrics, good for beginning director
- "Ill Show Him!" Soprano, comic, determined, needs
props to work in class situation, ending good for audition as shows range and isnt
- "It Wonders Me," F Soprano, shows off range, possible for
- "Its a Helluva Way to Run a Love Affair," Alto,
comic, lots of specifics, problem number
- "This Is All Very New to Me," possible audition for
Soprano, up tempo, movement potential, abandon, shows off voice
- "Take Your Time and Take Your Pick," Alto/Soprano/Baritone
Trio, up-tempo, good exercise for beginning director
- Instrumentation: 5 reeds, 3 trumpets, horn, 2 trombones, percussion, 4 violins, viola,
cello, bass, harp, piano/conductor
- Script: Samuel French
- Score: Chappell
- Record: Capitol
- Rights: Samuel French
PORGY AND BESS
- Book: Dubose Heyward
- Music: George Gershwin
- Lyrics: Dubose Heyward and Ira Gershwin
- Alvin Theatre, October 10, 1935 (124 perf.)
- Director: Rouben Mamoulian
- Musical Director: Alexander Smallens
- Choral Director: Eva Jessye
- Orchestration: George Gershwin
- Sportin Life- John W. Bubbles- Tenor
- Crown- Warren Coleman- Bass
- Porgy- Todd Duncan- Baritone
- Serena- Ruby Elzy- Alto
- Bess- Anne Brown- Soprano
- Clara- Abbie Mitchell- Soprano
- Chorus and Smaller Roles: 20M/16F necessary for vocal quality
- In Catfish Row, a waterfront ghetto in
Charleston, SC, Clara, a young mother, is soothing her baby with a lullaby (SUMMERTIME- F
Solo). The men are shooting craps on a nearby stoop and Serena is in a window above,
urging her man, Robbins, not to join the game.
- The crapshooters, discussing their days
work, are caught up in the game when Jake takes the baby from Clara and sings (A WOMAN IS
A SOMETIME THING- M Solo to M Quartet). At the end of the song Clara takes the baby inside
as one of the men opens the outside gate for the crippled Porgy, who enters on his goat
cart to join the game. The men begin to get serious about their gambling, but are warned
to wait for Crown, the bad tempered bully of the area. The drunken Crown and Bess arrive
as the women, led by Serena, negatively comment to each other about Besss wanton
ways. Crown tells Sportin Life, the area pusher/pimp to give him some "happy
dust" to sober him up. The game begins in earnest but Crown, who is losing, gets
nasty and kills Robbins with a coltar cutting hook (CRAP GAME FUGUE- M Chorus). Serena
screams and catches the dying man in her arms as Bess urges Crown to escape. A police
siren is heard and everyone but Sportin Life runs into hiding. He cleverly promises
to hide Bess if she will accompany him to New York, but she isnt ready to let any
man pimp for her and refuses his offer. She runs to various doors along the row but
Porgys is the only one that opens.
- The police have come and gone and the
chanting of a funeral procession is heard as the lights rise (GONE, GONE, GONE- Mixed
Chorus). Porgy leads the people of the row in a money-raising rhythmic gospel song
(OVERFLOW- Mixed Chorus). A white detective arrives and questions everyone about the
murder but no one has anything to say. He takes old Peter as a witness, promising to
return him when Crown is captured. The people comment on injustice as Serena, the widow,
reveals how empty her life is without Robbins (MY MANS GONE NOW- F Solo to Mixed
- The undertaker agrees to bury the body on
credit and Bess leads the mourners in a song of inspiration (LEAVIN FO DE
PROMIS LAN- F Solo and Mixed Chorus).
- The next morning, as the fishermen prepare
their nets for the days catch (IT TAKES A LONG PULL TO GET THERE- M Chorus), Porgy
watches the working men and just laughs because he is content with having nothing (I GOT
PLENTY O NUTTIN- M Solo to Mixed Chorus).
- Porgy, deeply in love with Bess, who has been
living with him since Crowns escape, observes Sportin Life trying to lure her
back to her cocaine habit and warns him to keep away. Porgy urges Bess to join the women
on the picnic and attempts to boost her spirits (BESS, YOU IS MY WOMAN NOW- Sc to M/F
Duet). The women stop by to urge Bess to join them for they notice how she has changed
since living with Porgy. Sportin Life leads the group to the picnic (OH, I
CANT SIT DOWN- Mixed Chorus) and Bess joins in.
- Act II begins on Kittiwah Island. There is
spontaneous gaiety as Sportin Life sings to the group (I AINT GOT NO SHAME- M
Solo to Mixed Chorus). When Maria and Annie accuse him of Sodom and Gomorrah behavior, he
responds by telling them not to believe everything the Bible tells them (IT AINT
NECESSARILY SO- M Solo).
- The boat whistle sounds and everyone starts
for shore. Bess is secretly grabbed by Crown who keeps her from leaving. She tries to
discourage him (WHAT YOU WANT WITH BESS- Sc to M/F Duet), but he keeps her with him,
telling her that no cripple is ever going to take Crowns woman.
- One week later, Bess, who has been out of her
mind with delirium since her return from the island, begins screaming. Porgy, who is
afraid she may be dying, urges Serena, who has great healing powers, to help the woman he
loves. Serena comes to pray for Bess (TIME AND TIME AGAIN- Sc to M/F Duet and Mixed
Chorus) and promises Porgy she will be cured by five oclock. As Porgy waits, the
street venders peddle their wares (STREET CRIES- F Solo/M Solo). At five oclock,
Bess recovers and implores Porgy to save her from Crown (I LOVES YOU, PORGY- Sc to M/F
- A hurricane breaks out and the residents
gather to pray in Serenas room (OH, DE LAWD SHAKE DE HEAVEN- Mixed Chorus). Crown
breaks in and mocks God as the people beg the Lord to strike him down (A RED-HEADED WOMAN-
M Solo to Mixed Chorus). The storm stops and Clara runs to the window and spies her
husband Jakes overturned boat. Leaving her baby with Bess, Clara runs out in the
storm to find her fisherman husband. She is followed by Crown, who promises to bring her
back, but he fails and Clara is lost to the sea.
- Act III begins later that night as the people
pray for the dead Clara and Jake (CLARA, DONT YOU BE DOWNHEARTED- Mixed Chorus),
Porgy sits at his window waiting for Crown to return. Sportin Life, who waits in the
shadows, tells Maria, who wants to know why he is hanging around, that he is waiting for
Bess. He knows that Bess is soon going to be ready to go with him for one of her men will
be killed and the other jailed. As he waits in the shadows he sees Crown enter Porgy`s
room with a knife. The fight ends in the street as Crown is killed with his own knife. As
Bess leads Porgy inside, the men come to remove Crowns body.
- The next morning the police choose Porgy to
identify Crowns body. He is terrified, for Sportin Life has convinced him that
the police will know he killed Crown when the dead mans wounds begin to bleed. Porgy
is forcefully taken off.
- Sportin Life slyly tells Bess that
Porgy will be in jail for at least two years and offers her some "happy dust."
He enticingly sings (THERES A BOAT DATS LEAVIN SOON FOR NEW YORK- M
Solo) and offers to set her up as a highly paid prostitute. She agrees and goes off with
- Porgy comes back a week later with presents
for his friends and Bess, but realizes that something is wrong (BUZZARD- M Solo). He
inquires as to Besss whereabouts (WHERES MY BESS?- M Solo) and is told she has
gone back to "happy dust" and to New York with SportinLife. Although
everyone urges him to forget her Porgy asks where New York is and prepares to follow
(IM ON MY WAY- M Solo). Everyone waves goodbye.
NOTES ON THE PRODUCTION
- The first New York production of Porgy and
Bess was performed during the depression- a period when people wanted escapism not
drama in theatrical entertainment; hence, it was a limited run for this Gershwin
masterpiece. On October 10, 1935, after an international tour, Porgy and Bess had a
nine month New York run. The show had Cab Calloway and Leontyne Price as the leads. In
1942, Cheryl Crawford revived the now musically familiar opera, which was warmly received
and widely toured.
- The Gershwin estate, seeking to maintain the
quality of this classic, maintains licensing control and usually only allows performance
rights to professional companies. Anyone considering a production should write for
permission before announcing a theatrical season.
- The music is vocally demanding and requires
superb singer/actors. The lines, somewhat simplistic can seem almost racist if not
properly handled. The answer to Porgys question that "New York is up North,
beyond the courthouse" may seem ridiculous if the tone of the entire production
hasnt established the period, mood and style of the piece.
- The costumes represent a poor but proud 1935
black community and include everyday wear and Sunday best. There is no specialized
choreography; the large numbers are more gospel in style and require simple movement.
Sportin Life is traditionally played by a performer who moves well and dances soft
- The sets should be "practical" for
they must hold a large company. The exteriors of the Catfish Row buildings contain windows
with operable shutters and should have entrances at a variety of levels to create visual
interest. Serenas room, where everyone waits out the storm, is often constructed by
a wall that folds back to show the interior. The island sequences can be a drop in front
of Catfish Row.
- Lighting must recreate a hurricane and be
able to properly enhance the dramatic highlights.
- Porgy and Bess is a classic that
should be performed more often. It is worth trying to obtain the rights.
SONGS OF SPECIAL INTEREST
- "Bess You Is My Woman Now," heart rending Baritone/Soprano
Duet, happy, exciting and dramatic, excellent for showcase and class
- "Summertime," shows incredible range and control, good for
audition if Soprano can effectively sing it.
- "Theres a Boat Thats Leavin Soon for New
York," Tenor, character oriented good for class study
- "It Aint Necessarily So," Tenor, good for Revue,
shows character, movement oriented, solo section may be done for audition
- "I Got Plenty of Nothin," Baritone, up-tempo, shows
range, happy mood, possible club
- Instrumentation: 5 reeds, 2 trumpets, 2 trombones, 3 violins, viola, cello, bass,
- Script: 10 Great Musicals
- Score: Chappell
- Record: Abben (Studio Cast) Odyssey
- Rights: Tams-Witmark
- Book: Neil Simon
- Music: Burt Bachrach
- Lyrics: Hal David
- (Based on the screenplay "The
Apartment" by Billy Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond)
- Sam S. Shubert Theatre, December 1, 1968 (1,281 perf.)
- Director: Robert Moore
- Musical Numbers Staging: Michael Bennett
- Musical Director: Harold Wheeler
- Orchestration: Jonathan Tunick
- Chuck- Jerry Orbach- Baritone
- Eichelberger- Vince OBrien- VTI
- Vivien- Donna McKechnie- VTI
- Fran- Jill OHara- Alto
- Sheldrake- Edward Winter- Baritone
- Miss Polansky- Margo Sappington- VTI
- Marge- Marian Mercer- Alto
- Miss Wong- Baayork Lee- VTI
- Mr. Dobitch- Paul Reed- VTI
- Dr. Dreyfuss- A. Larry Haines- Baritone
- Kirkeby- Norman Shelly- VTI
- Peggy Olson- Millie Slavin- VTNE
- Chorus and Smaller Roles: 4M/4F ideal minimum, but some productions with minimal stages
have negated the chorus and utilized the principals in choral sections
- In his office at Consolidated Life, an
Insurance Company, Chuck Baxter, a rather nondescript, but likable young man is telling
the audience about his lifelong problem of not being noticed. He yearns to figure out what
is wrong (HALF AS BIG AS LIFE- L to M Solo).
- On his way home he stops at an Eastside bar,
where he meets Mr. Dobitch, an executive at his office. Dobitch, on the pretext of helping
a woman recover from a sudden illness, convinces Chuck to loan him his apartment for about
an hour. Before long he is loaning out his apartment to Mr. Dobitch every Tuesday night,
on Wednesday nights to Mr. Kirkeby and on Thursday nights to Mr. Eichelberger. All are
executives who promise him advancement.
- Outside the apartment, waiting for the last
executive to vacate, he explains his predicament (UPSTAIRS TWO FLIGHTS UP- L to M Solo).
He is unexpectedly visited by Vanderhoff, another executives who promises him a promotion
in exchange for using the apartment for one night. Chuck is forced to stand out in the
rain until his apartment is free. His neighbor, a friendly doctor, hearing the nightly
noises from Chucks apartment warns him to slow down.
- The next morning, Chuck, who has a horrible
head cold and temperature, waits in the company medical office for treatment. Fran Kubelik
enters with a case of hiccups. He tells her that hiccups are psychosomatic and urges her
to take her mind off whatever is distressing her. She thinks of taking up a hobby or
seeking new companionship (YOULL THINK OF SOMEONE- Sc to M/F Duet). The nurse tells
Chuck that Mr. Sheldrake in personnel has asked to see him. He rushes off, certain that
his two months of key loaning has paid off.
- In his office, Director of Personnel
Sheldrake reads Chuck all the glowing reports he has received and demands to know what is
going on. Chuck convinced he is going to get fired, explains his innocence in the key
loaning. When Sheldrake offers him two tickets to the basketball game he realizes that
Sheldrake, himself, wants the key to his apartment. Sheldrake swears him to secrecy (OUR
LITTLE SECRET- Sc to M Duet).
- Chuck waits in the lobby for Fran and asks
her if she is interested in basketball. When she replies "yes", he asks her to
the game. She tells him she is meeting someone, but promises to be there in time for the
second game and he is ecstatic (SHE LIKES BASKETBALL- L to M Solo).
- Fran goes to a Chinese Restaurant, where she
meets Mr. Sheldrake, whom she has been having an affair with. Upset that he hasnt
called her in six weeks, she wants to end their relationship but cant. When he goes
to make a phone call, she berates herself for not leaving (KNOWING WHEN TO LEAVE- F Solo).
During sections of her song, the spot comes up on Chuck waiting outside Madison Square
Garden and making excuses for her failure to show. It is obvious that he is very naive
about women. Sheldrake returns to the table and tells Fran he is going to get a divorce
and convinces her to go to Chucks apartment with him.
- The lights come up on Kirkeby, Dobitch,
Vanderhof and Eichleberger bemoaning the fact that Chuck wont loan his key anymore
(WHERE CAN YOU TAKE A GIRL?- Sc to M Quartet). They enter the executive dining room, where
Fran is a waitress. When Chuck, who has been promoted, enters, Fran apologizes for
standing him up and tells him she isnt worthy of him. The four executives confront
Chuck and ask for some gratitude (WHERE CAN YOU TAKE A GIRL [REPRISE]- M Quartet). Chuck
goes to the executive sun deck to return a broken compact he found in the apartment and
Sheldrake comments on Chucks bachelor life. When Chuck exits, Sheldrake contemplates
the reason whey he wants things that he cant have (WANTING THINGS- M Solo).
- Outside an elevator, the night of the office
Christmas party, a tipsy Miss Olson, Sheldrakes secretary, corners Fran and tells
her she was once Mr. Sheldrakes girlfriend and lists the other girls Sheldrake has
been involved with. Fran denies everything and hastily exits.
- On the nineteenth floor, the company party is
in full swing with Vivien, Miss Polansky and Miss Wong, three of the office girls, singing
and dancing (TURKEY LURKEY- F Trio). Chuck asks Frans opinion of his newly purchased
homberg hat. She assures him that he looks good and offers him her compact so he can see
for himself. He recognizes the broken compact and disheartedly hands it back. She leaves
as the phone rings and he tells Mr. Sheldrake the apartment is ready for tonight.
- At the opening of Act II, Chuck is in a seedy
bar on 8th Avenue. He is approached by Marge, a lonely woman who hasnt heard from
her husband in two years. She talks to him in a teasing manner; she is still in love with
her husband and he is interested in Fran, but, since neither of them are available, they
realize something is better than nothing (A FACT CAN BE A BEAUTIFUL THING- Sc to M/F Duet
to Mixed Chorus). The patrons join in and Chuck and Marge exit.
- At Chucks apartment, where Fran is
confronting Sheldrake about his wife and his thoughtlessness where she is concerned, he
apologizes and gives her a hundred dollars as a Christmas present. She suddenly feels very
cheap and urges him to leave before he misses his train. She looks at a photograph of them
together, and wonders why he looks different to her (WHOEVER YOU ARE- F Solo). She sees
some pills and stares at them as the lights fade.
- Marge and Chuck, who are quite tipsy, enter
the apartment. Chuck sees Fran, fully dressed, in a deep sleep and is unable to wake her.
Realizing she has attempted suicide he rushes next door to get the doctor and sends Marge
on her way. Chuck and the doctor walk Fran around the apartment for several hours, while
the doctor, who assumes the suicide is because of Chucks behavior, berates the
worried man. He does agree not to file an attempted suicide report and leaves to get some
sleep. Chuck calls Mr. Sheldrake to tell him the details, but he only seems interested in
not getting involved.
- The next morning, the doctor returns to check
up on Fran and finds her depressed that he saved her. He and Chuck give her some advice
(YOUNG PRETTY GIRL LIKE YOU- Sc to M Duet) and the doctor leaves. When Fran asks why he
isnt married, he explains he was in love once, but the girl married his best friend
and he contemplated suicide. They both realize they have similar love problems (ILL
NEVER FALL IN LOVE AGAIN- Sc to M/F Duet).
- The doorbell rings and Frans brother,
Karl, comes in to take Fran home. When the doctor enters to check her, Karl discovers that
Fran has taken an overdose of sleeping pills and hits Chuck despite Frans protests.
Outside the apartment building, the three executives are happy because they have
discovered a new single man in the office who has his own apartment.
- At the office, Miss Olson tells Mr. Sheldrake
she is quitting, and, if he is worried about his wife finding out about his affair, he can
continue to worry.
- Mr. Sheldrake meets Chuck in the Chinese
Restaurant to inform him that he and Mrs. Sheldrake they have split up. He asks Chuck for
the key to the apartment so he can continue to see Fran. Chuck gives him the key to the
executive washroom and walks out, promising to change his life (PROMISES, PROMISES- M
- Back at the apartment Chuck is busy packing
when the doctor enters for some ice. He cant believe Chuck has no date for New
Years Eve, but Chuck assures him its so and offers him some champagne. He
thanks the doctor and tells him goodbye. Fran arrives to tell him that she and Sheldrake
are through, for they dont have very much in common; he doesnt even like
basketball. She begins to deal the cards as the curtain falls.
NOTES ON THE PRODUCTION
- Promises, Promises won Tony Awards in
1969 for Best Actor (Jerry Orbach) and Best Supporting Actress (Marian Mercer).
- The show is popular among Community Theatres
for the setting may be simple and the roles are good showcases for the performers. The
Neil Simon book is comedic and charming and the leading character is extremely likable.
Some excellent monologues are contained in this script.
- Publicity directors find the show easy to
publicize for it is based on the movie The Apartment, which is often seen on
television. The costumes are modern day and the production may be kept quite simple and
inexpensive. It is a good fund raising show for a company who wants a popular, yet not
overdone, inexpensive show.
- An excellent leading man is required. The
leading actor, although not a dancer, must be able to move well. The basketball number
calls for a lot of stylized movement and high energy. The other roles are primarily
character oriented and require actors rather than strong singers.
SONGS OF SPECIAL INTEREST
- "Knowing When to Leave," Mezzo Solo, semi dramatic
- "Promises, Promises," Baritone Solo, decision making,
- "She Likes Basketball," Baritone audition potential, allows
for movement, character and shows off vocal quality
- "Youll Think of Someone," M/F Duet, charm,
relationships, scene is necessary for class study
- Instrumentation: 2 violins, 2 cellos, 4 reeds, horn, 3 trumpets, 2 trombones, 2
percussion, 2 guitars, piano/electric conductor
- Script: Comedy of Neil Simon, Random House
- Score: Morris
- Record: United Artist
- Rights: Tams-Witmark
PUMP BOYS AND DINETTES
Synopsis contributed by UNH alum Michael
Walsh who appeared in the Hackmatack production in Dover, NH
- Conception, Music and Lyrics: John Foley, Mark Hardwick, Debra Monk, Cass Morgan, John
Schimmel and Jim Wann
- Book: Developed by cast members as the original show evolved
- Princess Theatre, February 4, 1982 (573 perf.)
- Production Coordinator: Sherman Warner
- Jackson- John Foley-
- L.M.- Mark Hardwick-
- Prudie Cupp- Debra Monk-
- Rhetta Cupp- Cass Morgan-
- Eddie- John Schimmel-
- Jim- Jim Wann
- Chorus and Smaller Roles: None
SYNOPSIS AND NOTES
- This unique concept show, developed in
Manhattan, evolved out of a period in the early eighties, when country music saw a
sizeable upswing in popularity. The popularity of the film Urban Cowboy spurred on
a national trend, which saw women sporting Stetsons and skirts and men wearing tight
jeans, cowboy hats and silk shirts. It was during this period that Pump Boys and Dinettes,
a country band with original tunes, had drifted from bar to bar with their unique
"country revue" in tow. At first, beer-drinking patrons paid little attention to
this Manhattan-meets-Country Music style act, but gradually the band began to garner the
attention of several interested backers. Finally, Dodger Productions saw to the
bands Off-Broadway premiere during the fall of 1981. In the words of New York Times
music critic, Stephen Holden, " . . . Off-Broadway audiences and critics alike
responded ecstatically--and after four months of capacity business, Pump Boys and
Dinettes moved to Broadway where the show received a Tony Nomination as Best Musical
of 1982, as well as four Drama-Desk Award nominations, including Outstanding Musical for
- One of the charming aspects of Pump Boys
and Dinettes lies in its quaint subject matter, illustrated by a song entitled
"Mamaw" in which the character Jim pays tribute to his beloved grandmother who
has passed on. Another source of the shows appeal is the simplicity of the wants and
requirements of the characters. They may not reflect our own desires, but are not too
dissimilar. Rhetta Cupps desire to get away is described in the song
"Vacation" while another character expresses the naive belief that women will be
attracted to his "Farmer Tan". Still another character sings of how wants the
cashier girl in the local drugstore to become as smitten with him as he is with her in
- But not all is innocent in Pump Boys and
Dinettes. Sexual innuendoes abound: the reference to the big-busts of the Cupp
sisters, the numerous displays of beer drinking, and one allusion to the smoking of
- Still, the show elicits an
"Andy-of-Mayberry" feeling of America in its post-war happy days period that is
pervasive. This simplicity is still the shows main draw and the reason for its
original and enduring popularity.
- There really is no plot to speak of. The Pump
Boys spend their days taking turns to see which one will go out and pump gas next, (unless
an attractive girl shows up at the pumps), drag their feet about fixing the Winnebago of
(the unseen) Uncle Bob, and playing their songs. It is the songs that entertain us, and
may involve the audience members, if desired. For example, small percussive instruments
may be passed out. In general, to what degree the "fourth wall" is torn down,
may vary with each production.
- Over at the Double Cupp, the Sisters make
food (the reality of which, or lack of, is up to each producers design concept), sing and
alternately flirt with, then fend off, each of the Pump Boys.
- In the original cast, six actors are
required: four Pump Boys and two Dinettes. The scant book, was developed by the original
cast/band. Because of this, lines may be assigned to different cast members if the
original cast number requirements arent adhered to. The dialogue is really a series
of talk-bridges to get from one song to the other. The songs and their content are the
shows true appeal. For the purposes of local, regional and community theatres, the
flexibility of re-assigning lines may also apply to instrumentation assignments.
Flexibility notwithstanding, the performers must range from moderately musical to very
skilled. The original band members were each accomplished instrumentalists and
song-writers, as well as fair to very good singers.
- The key to a successful local production lies
in the performers having fun. The level of enjoyment, above all, must be conveyed to the
audience. If the instrumentation is not available in its entirety, a simple acoustic
guitar in a "bare-bones" production is all that is needed for such fun to get
across. In terms of the set, one area of the stage must be delineated as the Pump
Boys gas station. This area needs to accomodate their band instruments. A different
area needs to represent the Double Cupp Diner. How elaborate and detailed each playing
area is conceived may vary with the imagination, as well as the budget of the individual
SONGS OF SPECIAL INTEREST
- "Sister," nostalgic, fine duet for two women, can be used
for a revue
- "The Best Man," lovely country ballad, may be used for
auditioning purposes when a non-traditional (non-Broadway) song is called for
- "Farmer Tan," wonderfully comic song, may be used in the
same non-traditional mode as described above
- "Mona," country "rocker" that stands on its own,
out of context of the show
- Instrumentation: electric guitar(s), acoustic guitar(s), drums, (only required if the
individual producer and/or director wants to retain the "Country" flavor of the
original production.) and electric, or stand-up style bass, keyboard, accordion and
various percussive style instruments, such as tambourine, shakers, etc. (the Cupp Sisters
may become creative in the objects they use as percussive instruments i.e. dishes, pots,
- Script: Sam French
- Score: Sam French
- Record/CD: CBS
- Rights: Sam French
- Book: Ossie Davis, Philip Rose and Peter Udell
- Music: Gary Geld
- Lyrics: Peter Udell
- (Based on the play Purlie Victorious
by Ossie Davis)
- Broadway Theatre, March 15, 1970 (686 perf.)
- Director: Philip Rose
- Choreographer: Louis Johnson
- Musical Director: Joyce Brown
- Orchestration & Choral Arrangements: Garry Sherman
- Purlie- Cleavon Little-Baritone
- Church Soloist- Linda Hopkins-Soprano
- Leutiebelle- Melba Moore- Mezzo Belt
- Missy- Novella Nelson- Mezzo
- Gitlow- Sherman Hemsley-VTNE
- Charlie- C. David Colson- Baritone
- Idella- Helen Martin-Soprano
- Ol Capn- John Heffernan -VTNE
- Chorus and Smaller Roles: 3M/2F minimum
- The curtain rises on "Big Bethel,"
a small church somewhere in Georgia, sometime in the recent past. A black congregation led
by self-appointed Reverand Purlie Victorious, is joyfully singing at the funeral of
Ol Capn, the man who profitted from their labors in the cotton fields (WALK
HIM UP- Mixed chorus).
- The scene flashes back to a shabby yet cozy
shack, in southern Georgia, the home of "Aunt Missy," Purlies
sister-in-law. Purlie tells the young innocent Lutiebelle, whom he has brought from
Alabama, that he is tired of Ol Capns exploitation of black people and wants
to unite the blacks in their own church, with him as their preacher (NEW FANGLED PREACHER
MAN- L to M Solo).
- When Missy arrives, Purlie reveals his plan
to pass off Lutiebelle as his Cousin Bee in order to obtain his familys $500
inheritance, which olCapn is unrightfully holding. Purlie needs the aid of his
brother, Gitlow, the only black Ol Capn trusts, but Gitlow plans to continue
his "Step N Fetch It" manner to win Ol Capn over. He tells Purlie,
with the aid of three field hands, there are better ways to get ahead (SKINNIN A
CAT- M Solo to 3M Trio).
- After Gitlow leaves, Missy promises to
persuade him to Purlies side and Purlie leaves, excited at the prospects of a church
for blacks. Over a slice of potato pie, Missy hints to Lutiebelle that Purlie could use a
good wife. The love-struck Lutiebelle bursts into song (PURLIE- Sc to F Solo). When Purlie
returns and urges Missy to beat some sense into Gitlow the spunky woman takes a baseball
bat and hurries out leaving Purlie alone with the frightened Lutiebelle.
- Purlie gives Lutiebelle a pep talk about her
mission to pretend to be the dead Cousin Bee and she finally agrees when he makes her
proud of being black (THE HARDER THEY FALL- Sc to M/F Duet). The emotions they feel spur
Purlie into asking Lutiebelle to be his disciple. They seal their convictions with a kiss
just as Gitlow is persuaded by Missy, through force, to talk to Ol Capn about
- The set changes to a commisary where food and
clothing supplies are sold to the blacks at outrageous prices. Charlie, Ol
Calpns twenty-five year old revolutionary son, is getting a hot poultice put on his
swollen eye by Ideall, a tough little black woman. She talks to Charlie about his
subversive songs which go against the traditional beliefs of the Old South (BARRELS OF
WAR/UNBORN LOVE- M Solo). Ol Capn, convinced his only son is a communist,
arrives at the commissary to convince him the old ways, where the white man dominated the
black, are best (BIG FISH, LITTLE FISH- M Duet to Mixed Chorus).
- Ol Capn, overwhelmed by
Charlies behavior, begins having heart palpitations which Gitlows subservient
manner gradually alleviate.
- Lutiebelle arrives with Purlie, prepared to
meet Ol Capn as cousin Bee. She is very positive and feels she can conquer the
world (I GOT LOVE- Sc to F Solo). Lutiebelle fools Ol Capn as Purlie and
Gitlow assemble the other plantation workers and present him with a scroll of gratitude in
typical "shufflin" style, but with cleverly biting lyrics. (GREAT WHITE FATHER
OF THE YEAR- Mixed Chorus).
- At the end of the song Ol Capn
requests Lutiebelle to sign a receipt, but she mistakenly signs her real name and the
money is lost. Ol Capn orders Charlie and Gitlow to go after Lutiebelle and
Purlie, but they purposely fall over each other, letting them get away.
- Two days later Purlie and Missy, in the
humble shack, are frustrated and dejected. Purlie yearns for the freedom of the North, but
Missy contradicts his every lyric, saying the South is far nicer (DOWN HOME- Sc to M/F
- Gitlow, convinced that he can get the money
from Ol Capn leaves Lutiebelle, who is serving dinner to the lecherous old
man, and tells Purlie and Missy of his certain success. Lutiebelle arrives at the cabin,
disheveled and furious and Purlie stomps off to get revenge upon the man who made advances
to the woman he loves.
- Act II opens with the plantation workers
reclining and thinking of what they will do.
- Monday (THE FIRST THING MONDAY MORNIN-
- At the shack, Missy tries to convince
Lutiebelle that Purlie will come back unharmed, with her honor restored (HE CAN DO IT- L
to F Solo).
- Gitlow arrives to tell the women Purlie is
running and it is better to survive than to be brave. The women are furious that Gitlow
has so little faith in his brother (THE HARDER THEY FALL-2F/M Trio).
- Purlie arrives with Ol
Capns whip and a tall tale about how he conquered this tyrant. However,
Ol Capn enters, accuses Purlie of being a thief and threatens to jail him.
Charlie rushes in and covers for Purlie by confessing to the theft, but informs his father
that he has bought Big Bethel and put the deed in Purlies name. He asks to be a
member of the congregation (THE WORLD IS COMIN TO A START- Mixed Chorus). Ol
Capn is so shocked that his son has foregone the ways of the Old South that he dies.
- The final scene, in Big Bethel, is a
completion of the opening number (WALK HIM UP THE STAIRS [REPRISE]- Sc to Mixed chorus).
NOTES OF THE PRODUCTION
- The show, foot stomping and humorous, made
stars of Melba Moore and Cleavon Little, who received Tony Awards for their performances.
- Purlie, has minimal set, costume, and
cast requirements and would be a good "first" show for a company to attempt. The
music is tuneful and the leading characters are well defined and sincere. There is a
particularly excellent scene in the second act where Purlie describes his imagined
confrontation with Ol Capn. It is good material for competition as the chorus
is easily adapted to large or small casts, which is good in school situations where a
choir director may want to involve the entire chorus.
- There are no dance numbers per se, just
simple choreographic movement for a few of the songs and, as they dont require any
of the major characters, they may be rehearsed when other scenes involving the principals
are being worked.
- Purlie has been successfully produced
by professional companies throughout the country and warmly received by both black and
white audiences as recently as 1982. It must be performed as a "period Piece"
and be sincerely portrayed in order to be true to the authors intent.
SONGS OF SPECIAL INTEREST
- "Purlie," exciting, up-tempo, full volumed, shows off the
voice, audition potential
- "The Harder They Fall," foot-stomping, convincing,
up-tempo, revue possibility
- "I Got Love," up-tempo, vibrant, audition, vocally
- "Down Home," character and lyric contrasts, character and
- Instrumentation: piano/conductor, 5 reeds, 3 trumpets, 2 trombones, percussion, drums, 2
violins, viola, cello, bass, 2 guitars, orchestral piano, organ
- Script: Samuel French
- Selections: Mourbar Music
- Record/CD: Ampex
- Rights: Samuel French
- Contributed by Linette Strout Miles, UNH alum
who appeared in the production at the Seacoast Repertory Company
- Conceived: Molly Newman and Barbara Damashek
- Music and Lyrics: Barbara Damashek
- Based on the book The Quilters: Women and
Domestic Art by Patricia Cooper and Norman Bradley Allen
- Jack Lawrence Theatre, Sept 25-Oct 14, 1984 (24 perf.)
- Director: Barbara Damashek
- Sarah- Lenka Peterson-Mezzo
- Daughters- Valyn Baron, Marjorie Berman, Alma Cuervo, Lynn Lobban, Rosemary
- McNamara, Jennifer Parsons- VTI
- The show opens with one of the daughters
explaining how precious a bag of fabric scraps is, especially when you are poor. She pulls
out a scrap of her wedding dress, and the other daughters join in with their scrap bags to
reminisce about their lives (PIECES OF LIVES - F Chorus). Following the song the mother
explains that she is old and is surely making her last quilt. It will be her legacy quilt.
She begins to read a letter she has written to her daughters and they all finish reading
it one by one. The quilt will contain the story of all of their lives.
- The story begins with the wagon trip out
west. The actresses form a wagon with quilting hoops (ROCKY ROAD - F Chorus). The song is
filled with hope for their future, but, following the song, they tell of all the hardships
they endured on their travels. In a monologue, one of the daughters tells of her first
winter as a pioneer. The cows all died one by one, and then her sister died. The next song
begins with the line " Smile in the face of sorrow
" (THREAD THE NEEDLE - F
Chorus). The song is interspersed with monologues about learning to quilt.
- The mother explains that in quilting you need
"shadow blocks," dark colors to off set the lighter ones. This explanation is
followed by a dark pantomime of childbirth, and then an up section including a song about
a corncob doll (CORNELIA SONG - F Solo to F Chorus), a very funny monologue called
Sunbonnet Sue and a ballad (WHEEL IN THE AIR - F Solos and Chorus).
- The play continues on in this way, with
monologues and songs telling of the darker and lighter sides of life. It takes us through
baptism, the loss of a child (and the resulting insanity), school days, and unrequited
- Act II opens with a square dance. It
continues with vignettes of courting, marriage and raising families. One scene involves a
woman expecting her twelfth child begging the doctor for an abortion. He refuses, and she
turns to her woman friends who make a sort of witchs brew for her to drink. It is
implied that she dies. The following section entitled "Crosses and Losses" takes
us through some dramatic monologues, and scenes about a premature death, infertility and a
house fire. The mother then sings a song about her life coming to a close (EVERYTHING HAS
A TIME - F Solo). The daughters must put the finishing touches on the legacy quilt an the
show closes with the daughters unfolding the quilt, which contains all of the blocks they
have talked about. They sing of how quilting heals and unites them (HANDS AROUND - F
Chorus). The quilt flies up and the curtain falls.
NOTES ON THE PRODUCTION
- Quilters is based on the concept that
the only legacy the pioneer women of America had was the quilts they made and the children
they bore. They had to work very hard keeping house for their families, but the cooking,
cleaning and sewing were all things that "perished with the usin."
Quilting was a job that gave them something lasting, as well as being one of the few
relaxing and social activities they had. In this musical, seven actresses play many
different characters. One actress (the mother) needs to be older, and plays other
designated roles in the script, but the other six (the daughters) can be mixed and matched
at the discretion of the director.
- The costume requirements are one simple
cotton dress for each actress. The props involve the various quilt squares, wooden hoops,
which are transformed into many different things, and large pieces of muslin to suggest
water and fire. Most of the setting is created with lights.
SONGS OF SPECIAL INTEREST
The songs in the show are all very specific
in style and lyrics and do not present any real difficulty for the singer. Therefore, they
would not be suitable for auditions. The songs "Butterfly", and "Green,
Green" might be good for a soprano to work on acting a song. Any of the chorus
numbers could be used for six women to work on singing harmony
Instrumentation: piano/conductor, harp, guitar 1, guitar 2, bass, strings
Script: Dramtists Play Service
Vocal Score: Included in libretto
Rights: Dramatists Play Service
THE NEW AMERICAN MUSICAL
Synopsis written by Gene Lauze UNH alum
- Book: Joseph Stein
- Music: Charles Strouse
- Lyrics: Stephen Schwartz
- Mark Hellinger, Theatre, August 21, 1986 (4 perf.)
- Director: Gene Saks
Musical Staging: Ron Field
Musical Director, Vocal and Dance Arrangements: Eric Stern
Orchestration: Michael Starobin
- Rebecca Hershkowitz- Teresa Stratas- Soprano
- David Hershkowitz- Josh Blake- Juv
- Bella Cohen- Judy Kuhn- Mezzo
- Avram Cohen- Dick Latessa- Baritone
- Ben- Lonny Price- Tenor
- Nathan Hershowitz- Larry Kert- Tenor
- Saul- Terrence Mann- Baritone
- Rachel Halpern- Marcia Lewis- Alto
- Anna Cohen- Evalyn Baron- VTNE
- Jack Cohen- Mordecai Lawner- VTNE
- Ensemble: 17M/8F in original production
- The time is 1910, a time of great immigration
from troubled Eastern Europe to America. Hordes of immigrants are at the end of a long and
arduous journey from their homelands in Europe to what they hope will be the land of new
opportunities for them. Among this group are 5 Jewish immigrants who have made this long
voyage in steerage together. Rebecca Hershkowitz, and her young son, David, have fled a
pogrom, which destroyed their town and have come in search of her husband, Nathan. Nathan
Hershkowitz came to America several years earlier, but did not send for his wife and young
son as he promised he would. Rebecca and David were joined in steerage by Avram Cohen, and
his teenage daughter Bella Cohen. The Cohens, like many before them, have come to America
in search of a better life. We also meet Ben Levotowitz, a young man who has fallen in
love with Bella on the long journey from Europe.
- The five frightened immigrants are processed
at Ellis Island along with the thousands of other who have made the same optimistic
pilgrimage (I REMEMBER/GREENHORNS- F Solo to 2M Duet). Rebeccas hopes of seeing her
husband are dashed when he doesnt show up at the landing to meet her and David. The
law states that any young woman must be met by a relative, so Rebecca and David are on the
verge of being sent back to the immigration office, when Bella steps in and tells the
immigration officer that Avram is Rebeccas uncle. The immigration officer is
convinced and Rebecca and her son are released to Avrams care. When it becomes
evident that Nathan is nowhere to be found, Avram and Bellas relatives offer to let
them stay with them until they can get on their feet. Ben, the brash young man who
befriended Bella on the boat has quickly taken a job as a cigar maker. He knows nothing
about making cigars, but the job offered "highest pay" so he lied and told him
he was a great cigar maker. He tells Bella he has been offered a fine job by a relative
and that he will find her so he can marry her.
- Although Rebecca and Nathan are exhausted and
very frightened of their new surroundings, they are quite overwhelmed by the strange and
wonderful sights around them (BRAND NEW WORLD- F/Juv Duet). Rebecca searches for her
husband, Nathan, but to no avail. Although the idea of finding him seem hopeless, she
remains optimistic, and remembers the difficulties and struggles that have brought her and
David to this foreign and exciting place (CHILDREN OF THE WIND- F Solo).
- All five immigrants begin to work; Rebecca is
hired to work in a sweatshop and Bella is also stitching, but she is doing piecework from
her home. Ben is making cigars and Avram has a pushcart, which David helps him with. The
work is hard and the hours are long, but the days are lightened by the ever present music
of a Klezmer band (PENNY A TUNE- Mixed Chorus).
- At Rebeccas shop, a young labor
organizer, Saul, is trying to stir up enough support to organize the shop. Rebecca is not
impressed by the way Saul always wants to stir up trouble, but she is convinced that Saul
is right about her need to educate herself and her son (EASY FOR YOU- M/F Duet). Saul
offers to take her and David to the Yiddish theatre one night to see a performance of Hamlet
(HARD TO BE A PRINCE- M Solo to Mixed Chorus). David likes Saul very much and Rebecca
is troubled to find that she is falling in love with the fiery labor organizer (BLAME IT
ON THE SUMMER NIGHT- F Solo).
- Bella is becoming more disillusioned by
America everyday. She is bored by her surroundings and is feeling constrained by her
fathers over protective attitude. Rebecca offers to help get her a job in the shop,
but Bella is sure her father will never let her go to work in a place where he cannot be
sure of her safety. The monotony of her drab life is lifted for a moment when Ben finds
her and gives her a gramophone he has bought for her (FOR MY MARY- 2M Duet, one voice is
recorded). When Avram arrives and sends Ben away, Bella is furious. She knows that her
father has brought her here out of love for her and a passionate hope to create a better
life for them, but all Bella sees is what she has given up. She has no nice clothes, is
treated like a second class citizen and spends her days sewing rags. She runs off to
fantasize about what she yearns to be a part of: the high life of the upper class (RAGS- F
- At a local Irish pub, we find Rebeccas
husband, Nathan, who has renamed himself Nat Harris and is busily working his way up the
ladder in local politics. Nathan has aligned himself with a local corrupt democrat who is
using him to get the Jewish vote in his district (WHATS WRONG WITH THAT?- M Chorus).
When Nathan finds out that Rebecca and David are in America, he sets out to find them,
believing that the work that he is doing in politics will insure them a comfortable life.
- Saul and Rebecca are seeing a lot of one
another and Saul is teaching David to stand up for himself. When David refuses to pay the
local hood who takes protection money from the immigrants, he is badly beaten. Rebecca is
horrified at what she sees. She has come to America to escape the danger and violence that
was rampant in her homeland and here it is again. She blames Saul for putting crazy ideas
into her sons head and breaks off the relationship. Just as she feels all hope is
lost in her life, her beloved Nathan arrives to save the day (NOTHING WILL HURT US AGAIN-
- Act II opens as the newly reunited family is
celebrating at a local café. As usual, Nathan is working the room for his political
cronies. Rebecca is very proud of her Nathan, but is beginning to notice that her husband
has changed. He wants to change the family name to Harris, so that they will "fit
in" better. He wants to erase what he is and become more assimilated (YANKEE BOY- M
Solo). He reveals to Rebecca that he has nothing but contempt for the other immigrants
like themselves. He wants something better for his wife and son (UPTOWN- M solo to M/F
- Saul finds Rebecca on the rooftop of the
tenement where she and David live. Although Rebecca tells him that they are through, they
cannot hide the true feelings that they have for one another (WANTING- M/F Duet).
- Avram has become friends with another peddler
named Rachel, an apple seller around his age. They have both lost their spouses and Rachel
is beginning to think that maybe she and Avram should get together. Bella defies her
father and tells him she is going for a job in a sweatshop. Avram is upset and Rachel
tries to comfort him. She suggests, rather timidly, that she has a nice apartment, could
use the company of a man and might be just the thing he needs to help him bring up Bella
(THREE SUNNY ROOMS- M/F Duet).
- Meanwhile, David and Ben have joined forces
with a clever gimmick to sell Bens gramophones (THE SOUNDS OF LOVE- Mixed Chorus).
- Rebecca and Nathan are at the local
Democratic Club Hall. Rebecca is trying to make a good impression on the people Nathan is
trying to impress, but she is having a hard time of it. Just as the leader of the party
announces that Nathan is going to be the new Ward Leader for the Jewish ward, tragedy
strikes. David rushes in with the news of a horrible fire at the sweatshop where Bella
works. Bella has been killed and Rebecca is shattered. She leaves Nathans side and
runs to the scene of the fire. Rebecca is greatly changed by the events of the fire; she
is radicalized. She realizes that the sweatshops have to change, that Bella died because
the doors of her shop had been locked. Rebecca finds strength she didnt know she had
and stands up to the boss at her sweatshop. She leads a strike against the deplorable
conditions she and the other ladies are enduring (BREAD AND FREEDOM- Mixed Chorus). Avram
is devastated. His life as he sees it is over and he is considering going back to his
homeland. When young Ben tries tell him that Bella was killed only because she wanted the
opportunities that America offered, and that by going back to Europe, Avram would be
giving up, Avram decides to stay and begin a new life with Rachel.
- Nathan fears that Rebeccas actions with
the unions will endanger his political aspirations. He tries to get her to stop, but she
is defiant in her position. They have grown apart. America has changed them and now they
truly do not know one another or belong together and Nathan leaves her. Rebecca stays with
the strikers and Saul and begins her new life (DANCING WITH THE FOOLS- F Solo).
- As a new boatload of immigrants arrives
at the docks of Ellis Island, it becomes clear that through the hardship, pain and loss,
Rebecca, Nathan, David, Avram and Ben have all begun to make a new life for themselves in
the strange new land (FINALE- Chorus).
NOTES ON THE PRODUCTION
- Rags was nominated for five 1987 Tony
Awards for Best Musical, Book, Score, Choreographer and Actress, but most of the awards
that year were split between Me and My Girl and Les Miserables.
- Many people will question the inclusion of
this show in this book. After all, why include a show that had a troubled Boston
pre-Broadway tryout and then managed to only make it through a four performance run once
it made it into New York? Those people who may have seen the show in either Boston or its
brief Broadway run will remember the show for its incredible score, thrilling performance
by opera diva Teresa Stratas, and, probably most of all, for the over-bearing production,
which served as the shows weakest link. The cast was large and so were the sets.
Instead of relying on a charming, passionate book and score, the producers chose to follow
the lead of the British Mega-Musicals and fill the stage with a lot of stuff. Those of us
who fell in love with the show without seeing the original production, did so based on the
recording, well after the show had closed. While the recording had many of the original
cast members represented, Teresa Stratass role was sung by another opera star, Julia
- What becomes quite obvious when ones listens
to the cast recording is the depth of the writing by Charles Strouse. He had glorious
voices to work with on this show and was inspired by the challenge. The book, by Joseph
Stein is rather reminiscent of his earlier work on Fiddler on the Roof and is
somewhat obvious. Stephen Schwartzs lyrics are probably the weakest part of the mix.
The moments that he chooses to musicalize are not always moments that need further
exploration. But on the whole it is a fine piece and definitely worthy of further study.
- In 1991, the American Jewish Theatre in New
York City mounted a newer, smaller version of Rags. Now titled Rags- Children of
the Wind, this production was radically different from its Broadway predecessor. Where
the first production was produced with excess, this production reveled in its smallness. A
cast of over 30 was replaced, quite effectively, by a cast of only 9 (4W/5M). The
sleekness of this production made the story and the glorious score the real stars of the
show. The actors played many parts, with the exception of the actors playing Rebecca,
Bella and David who only played one. The productions main problem was the idea of
having the same actor playing both Saul and David; the audience became a little confused
by having the same man play 2/3 of a love triangle. This production did make it clear that
there would be life after the Broadway flop of the show.
- This is a particularly good choice for
schools to produce. The historical aspects of the show cannot be over looked. The
immigrant experience, life at the turn of the century, early unionism, anti-Semitism and
the politics of the day are strongly represented here. Rags offers educators a fine
way to introduce students to these subjects.
SONGS OF SPECIAL INTEREST
- "Rags," Mezzo/Baritone Duet into Mezzo Solo, emotional song
for a young girl, a lot of acting
- "Three Sunny Rooms," charming duet for an older couple
- Record: Sony Masterworks
Rights: Write to Stephen Schwartz for the rights
- Book: Robert Nemiroff, Charlotte Zaltzberg
- Music: Judd Woldin
- Lyrics: Robert Brittan
- (Based on the play A Raisin in the Sun
by Lorraine Hansberry)
- Forty-Sixth Street Theatre, October 18, 1973 (847 perf.)
- Director: Donald McKayle
- Choreographer: Donald McKayle
- Musical Director: Howard A. Roberts
- Orchestration: Al Kohn and Robert Freedman
- Walter Lee Younger- Joe Morton- High Baritone
- Ruth Younger- Ernestine Jackson- Mezzo
- Lena Younger (Mama)- Virginia Capers- Alto
- Joseph Asagai- Robert Jackston- Baritone
- Beneatha Younger- Deborah Allen- Mezzo
- Travis Younger- Ralph Carter- Boy Mezzo Range
- Karl Lindner- Richard Sanders- VTNE
- Chorus and Smaller Roles: 4F/4M blacks
SUMMARY AND NOTES
- Set in a black ghetto area of Chicago in the
1950s, this musical concerns the Younger family, which is comprised of Mama, daughter
Benetha, son Walter Lee, his wife Ruth and their son Travis. The Youngers, cramped in
their tenement apartment and stifled by the surrounding neighborhood streets, which are
filled with pushers, prostitutes and drunks, yearn to better their position in life.
Walter Lee, a chauffeur, dreams of a more successful career while his Mama wants to get
the family into a home of their own.
- In Chicago of the 50s, that means a white
neighborhood. Mama, recently widowed, awaits the arrival of her husband's $10,000
insurance check which will enable them to move. Walter, who now considers himself the man
of the family, also awaits the check. He plans on going into partnership in a liquor store
investment, an investment Mama is against. Benetha, a college student who Mama hopes will
be a doctor, wants to escape to Africa with her boyfriend, Asagai, an African exchange
- The check arrives and Mama announces that she
has bought a house in a white neighborhood. Walter crumbles and accuses his wife, Ruth, of
not standing by him and goes on a drunken binge. Three days later, Mama finds him in a
bar, gives him the money, minus the small down payment for the house, makes him promise to
keep $3,000 for Benetha's schooling and allows him the responsibility of the rest. He is
touched by her love and trust and makes the mistake of turning over the cash to one of his
partners who promptly leaves town.
- A defeated Walter Lee decides he can get the
money back by allowing the white neighborhood association buy them out of the house. Mr.
Lindner had approached them earlier to convince them not to move into the neighborhood.
Mr. Lindner arrives and Mama forces Travis, Walter's young son, to watch his father
negotiate with the white man. Walter's pride in his parents and in himself will not allow
him to take the money and he refuses the offer. The family is overjoyed. As the show ends
the moving men begin emptying the apartment.
- Raisin won Tony Awards in 1974 for
Best Actress (Virginia Capers) and Best Musical.
- This powerful drama, originally an award
winning play, is a study in human relationships, and character growth and development.
There are many dramatic points, i.e. the confrontation scenes between Walter and Mama and
Walter and Ruth, and many touching moments, i.e. when young Travis says goodbye to the
sidewalk tree that grows on the block and Mama's demonstration of her love and belief in
- The show may be performed on a unit,
multi-leveled set with set props adjusted for the various scenes, i.e. the nightclub, the
church, the kitchen. The costumes should be 1950s style with a different costume per
performer for each act.
SONGS OF SPECIAL INTEREST
- "Not Anymore," 2F/M Trio, comic
trio that occurs after a white man representing the neighborhood association comes to
plead with the Youngers not to move to the neighborhood. Walter, Ruth and Beneatha try to
relate to Mama the tone of the conversation. Foot stomping, tongue-in-cheek, movement and
lyric oriented song, requires clever choreography which is outlined in the script
- Instrumentation: 2 keyboards, 4 reeds, 2 trumpets, horn, 2 trombones, tuba, 3
percussion, 3 violins, viola, cello, bass, guitar
- Smaller Instrumentation: keyboard, reed, trumpet, trombone, guitar, bass, 2 percussion
- Script: Samuel French
- Selections: Blackwood
- Record: Columbia
- Rights: Samuel French
- Book: Herbert and Dorothy Fields, Sidney Sheldon and David Shaw
- Music: Albert Hague
- Lyrics: Dorothy Fields
- Forty Sixth Street Theatre, February 5, 1959 (455 perf.)
- Director and Choreographer: Bob Fosse
- Musical Direction: Jay Blackton
- Orchestration: Philip J. Lang and Robert Russell Bennett
- Essie- Gwen Verdon- Mezzo
- Maude Simpson- Cynthia Latham- Alto
- Sarah Simpson- Doris Rich- Alto
- Tom- Richard Kiley- Baritone
- George Poppett- Leonard Stone- Tenor
- Sir Charles- Patrick Horgan- VTNE
- Tenor- Bob Dixon- Tenor
- Howard- William LeMassena- VTNE
- Chorus and Smaller Roles: 8M/8F with high energy who dance well
- The play opens on a prologue vignette of a
young actress being strangled by a red headed, bearded man. The music the girl has been
singing underscores the opening of the play, the exterior of the Simpson Sisters Wax
Museum. The new exhibit, "The Strangler and the Dancing Girl," is popular with
the turn of the century Londoners. The inspector, who thinks the killer might visit the
Waxworks on opening day to witness his likeness, plans on surveying the crowds that await
the museums opening (THE SIMPSON SISTERS DOOR- Mixed Chorus).
- In the main Salon of the Museum, various
exhibits enhance the dimly lit space. The people anxiously await the unveiling of the new
exhibit when Essie, the Simpsons niece enters to tell Aunts Maude and Sarah
she has had another vision of a handsome man who will enter her life. Maude accuses her of
not being realistic, not hunting for a real man to marry, but Essie disagrees and sings of
her hopes for marriage (THE RIGHT FINGER OF MY LEFT HAND- L to F Solo). She hurries to the
unveiling where she meets Tom Baxter, a strong, handsome American actor who wants the
exhibit to close because the murdered girl was his partner. He draws the curtain and
orders no one to re-open it. When Maude defies him by re-opening the curtain everyone
notices the scarf is gone and assumes the murderer is in the museum. Pandemonium breaks
- While the Inspector is searching Essies
workroom for the killer, Tom tells Essie about his ideal girl. Essie obviously
doesnt fit the role but, as he and his coworker George start to exit, she fabricates
wild stories to elicit their attention and sympathy. The two men, appalled by her tales,
urge her to get out and live (JUST FOR ONCE- Sc to 2M/F Trio). Tom and George leave for
the theatre, promising to see Essie again and she feels wonderful (I FEEL MERELY
MARVELOUS- F Solo). Essie tells Sarah she is in love but worries that she may never see
him again. She decides to tell Tom she knows what the killer looks like and her Aunt
Sarah, ever the romantic, agrees to help her in her lie. They tell Maude that the killer
has attempted to strangle Essie and Maude, taken in by Essies story, insists they go
to Scotland Yard and the three set out.
- On a foggy street Essie confuses her Aunt
Maude and the three make their way to the Odeon Theatre instead of Scotland Yard.
- At the theatre, the show is in rehearsal as
George leads the group in a tribute to ragtime (THE UNCLE SAM RAG- M Solo and Mixed
Chorus). Essie meets Tom who is onstage rehearsing and tells him she has seen the
strangler and is certain he will kill her unless he protects her. Since she needs to be
around lots of people, George invites her to stay at the theatre, but Howard, the manager,
is opposed. Essie quickly assures him she can perform and demonstrates with an old music
hall song (ERBIE FITCHS TWITCH- F Solo). The number is a disaster, but Tom valiantly
suggests that Howard just use her in the finale. George, an expert at make-up, takes her
off to begin the transformation from Essie to chorus girl.
- Sir Charles Willingham, nobleman and friend
to the dead girl, has overheard Essies story and asks to speak to her, but Tom begs
off until later. George accuses Tom of being in love with her, but he denies that she is
the right girl for him (SHES NOT ENOUGH WOMAN FOR ME- Sc to M Duet).
- Outside the dressing room a few hours later,
Essie enters, a glowing beauty, and Tom asks her to dinner before exiting in shock. Maude
and Sarah, hearing the news, try and prepare her for the event; Sarah urges fun and Maude
urges caution (BEHAVE YOURSELF- Sc to F Duet, Essie needed for Staging). As Essie goes on
the date the Aunts, on one side of the stage, offer words of wisdom to Essie, who mistakes
their advice; the scene becomes a study in opposite manners.
- Later that night, in Toms apartment,
where Essie has moved under the chaperonage of her aunts, Tom tells her he loves her (LOOK
WHOS IN LOVE- Sc to M/F Duet). As he leaves he urges her to make a wax head of the
murderer and Essie is forced to go into one of her trances in an attempt to envision the
killer. While she is in the trance Sir Charles opens the door of the apartment and she
sees him briefly before he exits. She is aghast, but quickly starts working on a wax
replica of the head.
- In front of the wax museum, which is
temporarily closed, Tom spies a picture of Essie and tells everyone she is his girl (MY
GIRL IS JUST ENOUGH WOMAN FOR ME- M Solo).
- Back at the theatre, a terrified Essie is
backstage waiting to go on when Tom enters and tells her she is gorgeous enough to be a
star. She imagines herself as a fabulous dancer (ESSIES VISION- Mixed Chorus Dance).
As her vision ends she is brought back to reality and the performance (TWO FACES IN THE
DARK- M Solo, Mixed Chorus for Staging). Essie is totally messing up the number with
forgotten choreographic movement when she sees Sir Charles seated in a box. She runs to
Tom and tells him she has seen the killer. He cant believe it is Sir Charles, his
best friend and fiancé to the dead girl. When he discovers her stories have all been lies
and she only saw Sir Charles in a vision he leaves in disgust. Essie goes to call Scotland
Yard, but the phone goes dead and Sir Charles approaches.
- The Act II curtain rises on Toms
apartment. George arrives to warn Tom that the stage doorman saw Essie leave with Sir
Charles and she could be in trouble. Tom isnt concerned and renounces his feelings
for her (IM BACK IN CIRCULATION- M Solo).
- On a street Sir Charles is escorting Essie to
his apartment to question her about the killer. She manages to escape when she recognizes
May and Tillie, two streetwalkers she met previously. The three enter a pub where she
tells the patrons she is finished with lying. David and May and cheer her (WE LOVES YA
JIMEY- M/F Duet, Mixed Chorus). The dance ends in a fight and the police arrive and arrest
- In jail, the following evening, Aunt Maude
and Sarah come to visit Essie and arrange for her release. George arrives and tells Essie
he is going to help her trap the killer by having Sir Charles come to the museum and
confront Essie. George promises Tom will be on hand to save her and she agrees. Essie
devises a plan to get out of jail by seducing the guard into a dance and pickpocketing the
key (THE PICK-POCKET TANGO- F/M to F Chorus Dance).
- Backstage at the theatre, George attempts to
convince Tom to go to the waxworks but Tom is certain he doesnt care about
Essies schemes. He begins to reject her but realizes he still loves her (LOOK
WHOS IN LOVE [REPRISE]- M Solo) and runs off to the museum. Georges dressing
room door opens and George walks out disguised as Sir Charles.
- Tom tells Essie he loves her and the two
agree to correct their flaws (ILL TRY- Sc to M/F Duet). As Tom goes to wait for Sir
Charles, Essie discovers George disguised as Sir Charles. He confesses to the murder and
his tells of his plan to get even with Sir Charles by making the police think the
aristocrat was the killer. As he starts to strangle her the real Sir Charles interrupts
and the chase, complete with the two red headed bearded men, some police, Essie, Howard
and Tom, is on.
- The play concludes happily with Tom and Essie
united and Howard putting Essie and her Aunts in the show (FINALE- Mixed Chorus).
NOTES ON THE PRODUCTION
- Redhead won eight 1959 Tony Awards for
Best Actor (Richard Kiley), Best Actress (Gwen Verdon), Musical, Authors of a Musical,
Producers, Composer, Costume Designer, and Choreographer.
- An excellent musical, though it is seldom
done, Redhead is exciting and fun in the hands of a talented director,
choreographer and versatile performers. A variety of smaller vignette roles make this
ideal for smaller companies wishing to give everyone a chance.
- The basic sets include the waxworks exterior
and interior (which may include Essies workroom), a stage, a street, backstage,
Toms apartment, a pub and jail cell. Usually the street drop or the exterior of the
waxworks is used to change from the larger sets. It is possible to use the combine the
street and waxworks.
SONGS OF SPECIAL INTEREST
- "Behave Yourself," F Duet with 3rd F for staging, character
oriented, 2 elderly women with different points of view
- "Erbie Fitchs Twitch," Mezzo, music hall oriented,
- "Im Back In Circulation," Strong Baritone, possible
audition, extremely masculine number
- "Just For Once," Trio, up-tempo, character of F strongly
established, inter-relationships important
- "I Feel Merely Marvelous," Mezzo, up-tempo, movement
- "The Right Finger of My Left Hand," Mezzo Ballad, poignant,
good for 2 song character study
- "The Uncle Sam Rag," Chorus number, music hall style, good
- Instrumentation: 5 reeds, 2 trumpets, 2 trombones, horn, percussion, guitar, harp, 3
violins, viola, cello, bass, piano/conductor
- Script: NP
- Score: Chappell
- Record: RCA
- Rights: MTI
THE ROAR OF THE GREASEPAINTTHE SMELL OF THE
- Book: Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley
- Music: Leslie Bricusse
- Lyrics: Anthony Newley
- Shubert Theatre, May 16,1965 (232 perf.)
- Director: Anthony Newley
- Choreographer: Gillian Lynne
- Musical Director: Herbert Grossman
- Orchestration: Philip J. Lang
- Sir- Cyril Ritchard- Baritone
- Cocky- Anthony Newley- Tenor
- The Kid- Sally Smith- Mezzo
- The Negro- Gilbert Price- Tenor
- The Girl- Joyce Jillson- Soprano
- The Bully- Murray Tannenbaum- VTNE
- Chorus and Smaller Roles: 8F Urchins
SUMMARY AND NOTES
- This show is an allegory about those who get
and those who do not, the establishment versus the status quo. At the opening of the show
Sir, who represents wealth and success meets Cocky, who represents those who can never get
ahead, for "The Game." They must play by Sir's rules and, when Cocky starts to
get ahead, Sir merely changes the rules. Midway through, Cocky, tired of being bested,
revolts and Sir, to appease, him allows him to be crowned King and have a few rewards,
namely a girl he loves. His dreams, however, are short lived when Sir replays the game and
wins the girl away. A downtrodden Black enters, even more unfortunate than Cocky, and
wants to play the game. Cocky treats him as badly as Sir had treated Cocky, proving he is
as unfit as Sir to rule.
- As the game goes on, Cocky gains confidence
and forces Sir to play the game by his rules. The two have come full circle; neither is
good alone and they must work together to create a new beginning.
- This is a simple show to produce because it
requires no special set and is performed in "pulled" costumes, Victorian in
tone. Often the first show in a Summer Stock season because of the small technical
requirements, it is fun for the chorus, who has a great deal of performance exposure, but
vocally demanding for the two principals. The female chorus may be expanded as needed.
Often a larger chorus is used for choreographic variety. The music is familiar and
absorbing. The character of Cocky, although a tenor, need not be played by a typically
romantic tenor, as he is definitely an offbeat romantic. Sir is a character actor, usually
with a theatrical flair and experience in "playing an audience."
SONGS OF SPECIAL INTEREST
- "Feeling Good," Black tenor, soulful, wonderful imagery
makes this good for class study, actor must see the images and feel the emotions, vocally
- "The Joker," Tenor Solo, good for nightclub, semi-dramatic,
- "My First Love Song," Tenor/Mezzo or Soprano Duet, This
romantic song between an attractive girl and an offbeat character is especially good in a
class situation as it gives atypical males a chance to experience love duets without
feeling overly self conscious.
- "Who Can I Turn To?," Tenor Solo, a desperate Cocky cries
out for someone or something, semi-dramatic, good for vocal styling and reaching out
gestures, could be F solo if taken from context, club
- Instrumentation: 4 reeds, 2 horns, 2 trumpets, 2 violins, cello, bass, percussion, harp,
- Script: NP
- Selections: TRO
- Record/CD: RCA
- Rights: Tams-Witmark
- THE ROBBER BRIDEGROOM
- Book and Lyrics: Alfred Uhry
- Music: Robert Waldman
- (Based on a novella by Eudora Welty)
- Biltmore Theatre, October 9, 1976 (145 perf.)
- Director: Gerald Freedman
- Choreographer: Donald Saddler
- Orchestration: Robert Waldman
- Jamie Lockhart- Barry Bostwick- Baritone
- Clemment Musgrove- Stephen Vinovich- Baritone
- Rosamund- Rhonda Coullet- Mezzo
- Salome- Barbara Lang- Alto
- Little Harp- Lawrence John Moss- Baritone
- Goat- Trip Plymale- Baritone
- Chorus and Smaller Roles: 6M/5F
SUMMARY AND NOTES
- An empty stage is in view as the audience
enters. A narrator describes the small town of Rodney, Mississippi. Many of the
towns citizens gather around to reflect upon the good old days when Buffalo and
Natchez Indians still existed. Each character focuses on a famous ancestor as they engage
in a country dance. The character of Jamie Lockhart is pictured as the man with two faces:
one very honest and clean-cut, the other like a villain. The story begins to unfold as
Salome, the wicked and selfish stepmother, Musgrove, Rosamund's wealthy father, and Little
Harp and Big Harp, two incorrigible robbers, are described.
- The time flashes back. Two robber brothers,
Big Harp, a head who does the thinking and Little Harp, the manpower behind the scheming
bandits who carries his brother's head in a trunk, attempt to murder and rob Musgrove, a
wealthy man. Jamie Lockhart, another villain, saves Musgrove's life and wins the trust of
this plantation owner. Musgrove promises to give him his daughter as a reward.
- Salome, Musgrove's scrawny, conniving second
wife, hates his daughter Rosamund and hires Goat, a half-wit, to push her into a ravine.
He is thwarted by the surprise arrival of Jamie, dressed as a robber. Jamie saves
Rosamund, but steals her clothes and sends her home where her father decides to send his
new friend, Jamie Lockhart, after the bandit, not knowing the man who saved his life and
the bandit are one in the same.
- The next day Jamie arrives, handsomely
dressed, but doesn't recognize Rosamund, nor she him. He promises to consider marriage,
but can't get his mind off the girl he met in the woods. He remeets his wood nymph and,
after a fight with Little Harp, discovers that Rosamund is the girl he loves. Fearing that
her wealth will destroy his real feelings he runs off, but changes his mind and decides he
really wants Rosamund. After nine months of searching, as Rosamund is swelling in
motherhood, they find each other in New Orleans and Rosamund delivers twins.
- Barry Bostwick won the 1977 Tony Award for
Best Actor in a Musical.
- The show is easy to produce for it has
limited scenery and few costumes. It is stylized in the Story-Theatre/Musical Mode where
the ensemble can be onstage throughout. This enables the ensemble to position set pieces
to establish location by means of physical formation. This style of show needs excellent,
versatile and tight lighting as areas must be readily delineated to keep the action fluid.
- The subject matter is far-fetched and
farcical and the music is country/folk. There are many sexual references which are unable
to be altered as they are part of the plot. This probably limits its appeal to high school
SONGS OF SPECIAL INTEREST
- The songs are not easily pulled from context
and as such are not well suited to classroom study or Revues.
- Instrumentation: 3 violins, 2 guitars, bass, banjo
- Script: Drama Book
- Selections: Schirmer
- Record: Columbia
- Rights: Rights
- Music and Lyrics: Elizabeth Swados
- Plymouth Theatre, May 13, 1978 (199 perf.)
- Director and Staging: Elizabeth Swados
- Arrangements: Improvised by the Musicians
- May be performed by a company of 8M/8F ranging in age from twelve to twenty. Some
combining of roles necessary if the minimum configuration is used
SUMMARY AND NOTES
- The Play opens in a fenced in area with
bleachers. It may represent a playground. A group of adolescents, all runaways, play
typical children's games. They finally come together and perform the opening number, which
asks the question, "where do people go when they run away?" The remainder of the
production deals with the desperateness of these children who didn't want to leave but had
no other options.
- The problems of the Runaways are shown in
music, through mimes, and with powerful monologues. There are many distinct characters:
the child prostitute kept on drugs by her pimp and still dreaming of a better life, the
boy with a flair for theatre who is searching for a hero, the boy who escapes his home
problems by playing basketball, the addict who dies despite the efforts of another runaway
to get him to kick the habit, and the girl who is senselessly raped and murdered. These
are the children who are forced to seek shelter on the playground, who are comfortable
with each other; whose nights are a constant nightmare and whose days are filled with
dreams of revenge on those who have hurt them.
- The group learns about survival and violence.
After one of the girls becomes victimized the rest mock the punk rock stars who sang of a
happy ending. All beg to be allowed to enjoy their youth.
- This musicalized comment on the deterioration
of the family as the backbone of life is energy and emotionally charged. It is a powerful,
touching and horrifying collage of the feelings of runaways.
- An excellent vehicle for touring as it
requires no specific settings. The costumes are everyday present adolescent style. The
piece requires an excellent director who can relate the problems of the script to a
talented group of adolescent appearing actor/singers. The French acting version is broken
into 11M/9F but this size abbreviated or expanded to fit the stage space.
SONGS OF SPECIAL INTEREST
- "Let Me Be a Kid," Mixed chorus, a crying out of children
who want to be children while they are still able, good for a Revue on Youth, requires
- "Where Are Those People Who Did Hair?," Baritone/Alto duet
to mixed chorus, rock tempo, questioning what happened to the rock stars of the previous
generation who promised to change the world, became millionaires and are no longer
- Instrumentation: string bass, percussion, drums, 2 reeds, guitar, 2 horns/trumpets,
- Script: Samuel French
- Score: NP
- Record/CD: Columbia
- Rights: Samuel French