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Cover to Original Cast RecordingBEN FRANKLIN IN PARIS

Music by Mark Sandrich, Jnr.; Book & Lyrics by Sidney Michaels

Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, Broadway - October 27, 1964 (215 perfs)


STORY

Ben Franklin arrives in Paris with his two grandsons seeking support for the Colonies' war against England. He quickly wins the friendship and popularity of the French court, but winning the King's recognition and support is another matter. Ben learns that an old friend, Madame La Comtesse Diane de Vobrillac, is close to the King. He appeals to her romantic nature, but now as a confidante to King Louis XVI, Diane is more practical. She demands more proof that America is not a losing proposition-it must win a battle. Franklin's hopes seem dashed when the British capture Philadelphia. Diane won't see or talk with Franklin, but he manages to trick her up into a hot-air balloon. Alone in the gondola, he gets her to agree to winning a battle of a different sort-to get another major power to split the cost of financing America's war effort. Believing it impossible, she agrees. The Spanish ambassador hears of Franklin's mission to involve Spain as the second ally and avoids him at all costs. The persistent Franklin arranges an encounter at the Abbey de Morellet amid a flowing grape harvest. After several toasts, the ambassador becomes friendly and agrees to fund arms and supplies. With this help the tide of the war begins to change. The Colonists defeat the British at Saratoga. This is all Ben needs to sway the King. But the

British have countered by winning over Ben's son William, the governor of New Jersey. The traitorous act pulls the rug from under Ben's plan. To regain the upper hand he offers to marry Diane, but is rejected. As a final effort Ben prepares to go to England where he knows he will be hanged-an act of martyrdom he feels sure the French could not overlook. However, Diane learns of the plan and intercedes with the King. Soon thereafter the King summons Benjamin Franklin, not the Philadelphian, but the Ambassador of the United States of America.

Musical Numbers:

  1. We Sail the Seas
  2. I Invented Myself
  3. Too Charming
  4. Since Last We Talked Alone
  5. Half the Battle
  6. 'Tis Incredible as Love
  7. Whatever Became of Old Temple?
  8. A Balloon Is Ascending
  9. To Be Alone with You
  10. You're in Paris
  11. How Laughable It Is
  12. Hic Haec Hoc
  13. God Bless the Human Elbow
  14. When I Dance with the Person I Love
  15. We've Got the British Lion by the Tail
  16. Diane Is
  17. Look for Small Pleasures
  18. I Love the Ladies

Instrumentation:

Violins A, B, C, viola, cello, bass, reeds I-V, horn I-II, trumpet I-II, III, trombone I-II, harp, percussion.

Cast: 23 parts, 10 principals.

Ben Franklin, must act, sing, and move well. On-stage most of the time.
Diane, sings and acts.
Temple Franklin, acting and singing are not rigorous
Benny Franklin, acting and singing are not rigorous
Bache, a boy of 7 or 8.
Janine, teenage girl who sings.
 

Other principals have minor roles. Ben carries almost everything.
Large chorus of 20 to 30 members. Total cast, 30-50.


Scenes and Sets:

Prologue, 2 acts, 14 scenes, 7 full sets, 3 drops (including one that rolls off batten to give the illusion of a balloon ascending), and the balloon.

ACT I

Prologue
Scene 1: The Docks.
Scene 2: Versailles.
Scene 3: A Paris Street.
Scene 4: Ben's House.
Scene 5: The Park.
Scene 6: Sky Over Paris.
Scene 7: The Pont Neuf.
Scene 8: Paris town.
Scene 9: The Pont Neuf.
Scene 10: Ben's House.
Scene 11: The Vineyards

ACT II

Scene 1: The Spanish Embassy.
Scene 2: A Paris Street.
Scene 3: Versailles.
Scene 4: Diane's House.
Scene 5: Ben's House.
Scene 6: Versailles.

Period and Costumes:

France, 1776-77:

powdered wigs, satin hoop skirts, breeches, vests, and long coats befitting the French court. Sailor outfits, maiden dresses, monks' robes, more casual dress for the townsfolk, and a large plaster cast for Ben's leg.

Choreography:

Mostly choreographed movement, some soft shoe, waltz, and precision marching extending into some dance rhythms. Frolic when Ben gets the Spanish ambassador drunk at the monks' abbey.

Lighting and special effects:

Ascending balloon with its two passengers. Versatile lighting equipment. Exterior lightning and thunderstorm.