Dance a Little Closer
Book & lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner. Music by Charles Strouse based on Idiot's Delight by Robert E. Sherwood
Minskoff Theatre, Broadway - 11 May, 1983 (1 (one) perf)
SummaryHarry Aikens, a down-at-heel supper club entertainer warms again to an old flame, Cynthia Brookfield-Bailey, when they are both ensconced in an Austrian hotel on New Year's Eve awaiting World War III. Cynthia was the mistress of a man who bore a remarkable resemblance to the American diplomat, Henry Kissinger.
by Charles Strouse
It is New Year's Eve again at the Barclay Palace Hotel in the Austrian Alps in the "avoidable future" but not so very far from the hotel in the Italian Alps where Robert Sherwood served up Idiot's Delight almost 50 years earlier. The international situation is still deteriorating and the jet-set crowd is dancing on the brink to the music of Harry Aikens and Delights.
Harry's love life is reflected in his act. It is a chequered record that was generally fun.
A New Year's past invades Harry's memory with a particular woman he could not posses. There had been an attraction but not for her. At this point in the present, who should appear but a double for the woman in Harry's past, the exotic Cynthia Brookfield-Bailey. She appears to feel that one is worth it - the Kissingeresque Dr. Josef Winkler. When Cynthia denies ever having known Harry, he joins the left-wing student, Halloway, in bemoaning the perfidy of governments and women.
Cynthia's liaison with Winkler is not without its own questions. How much of an influence does Winkler have over the gathering war clouds? How much of an influence does Cynthia have over Winkler? Is she merely a woman who thinks Winkler is wonderful or is she the woman from Harry's past who has always obsessed him?
Two of the other guests at the Barclay-Palace Hotel believe in love, although not perhaps in the traditional mould. Charles and Edward wonder why the world cannot just leave them alone. In an ideal world this might just happen but then Harry isn't leaving Cynthia either. Her resemblance to the "Cindy" of his memory is too marked and her relationship to the roving Winkler too apparently tenuous. Cynthia keeps denying that Harry was a part of her past or that he is likely to be part of her future. As for Winkler's famous wanderings, he always returns to Cynthia.
By the time his night-club act goes on that evening, however, Harry is convinced that he has a new girl. When word arrives that the frightening international situation is threatening to erupt into war, Cynthia turns momentarily to Harry. He is now certain that Cynthia is the girls of his past even though she denies it.
Act II opens with the hotel guests preparing to evacuate to safer climes as war appears to be imminent and an air base in the valley below is a likely military target. The Delights Trio is glad to be heading home but Harry is angry at the cancellation of the tour, mad at Cynthia who has run back to Winkler and mad at humanity in general.
Faced with a probable war in which one, or both, may be killed, the lovers, Charles and Edward, feel it important to formalise their relationship and they ask the Reverend Boyle to marry them. His position is firm, "I don't know" but everyone else has an opinion to offer. The boys' commitment leads Cynthia to seek a commitment from Winkler but he departs. Almost at the same time Harry, tortured by Cynthia's denials of the past declares he never wants to see her again which leaves Cynthia stranded in her seeming glory - but alone.
As the last bus leaves for the border, Harry returns. What ever happens to the rest of the world, if he is to have a future, Cynthia must be a part of it. As the first air raid sirens sound these two, at least, have found the potential for a personal peace.
Anyone Who Loves
Dance A Little Closer
Happy Happy New Year
He Always Comes Home To Me
I Don't Know
I Got A New Girl
I Never Want To see You Again
It Never Would Have Worked
No Man Is Worth It
On Top Of the World
There's Always One You Can't Forget
There's Never Been Anyone Like Us
What Are You Going To Do About It?
Why Can't the World Go Away and Leave Us Alone?
A Woman Who Thinks I'm Wonderful
Doctor Josef Winkler
Shirley, Bebe, Elaine - The Delights
Contessa Carla Pirianno
Reverend Oliver Boyle
plus hotel staff and guests