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Her Benny

Music, book and lyrics by Anne Dalton;adapted from the story by Silas K. Hocking

First presented as Our Benny at Liverpool Empire Theatre

Revised and renamed - Liverpool Empire Theatre, 12th November, 2008

"The Sights and Sound of Our City" - Essay


Renamed and revamped, but true to Silas Hocking's Her Benny, the classic tale of two youngsters' battle to survive in Victorian Liverpool, Our Benny is a rags to riches, feel good musical, following the fortunes of Benny and his little sister Nell, as they rely on courage and love to fight poverty and injustice. With rousing song and dance numbers, this inspiring, instantly appealing musical promises to create a whole new army of fans. Laugh, sing, cry and be captivated by one of Liverpool's best-known theatrical productions.


Liverpool night-watchman, Joe Wragg and his wife Sally, reminisce about Nell and Benny Bates, two street children forced to earn a few coppers for their drunken parents by selling matches and carrying bags.

The diversity and richness of Victorian life unfolds; urchin children who live by their wits, street traders and the inhabitants of Addler's Alley who are no better off than they ought to be. Life is a curious mixture of hardship humour, violence, generosity, drunkenness and neglect.

One night, after a severe beating, Nell and her Benny decide to run away from home and seek help from their friend, Joe Wragg. When he learns that their remorseful father has drowned in the Mersey whilst searching the waterfront for his children, Joe decides to take them to his house.

The children bring Sally and Joe closer together and for a while they live like a happy family. The go on the ferry to Eastham and the children enjoy their first real Christmas. Despite all the Wragg's love and care however, Nell's poor health dete-riorates. One day Benny is devastated to learn that Nell has collapsed and has been taken to the infirmary. Her death, when it comes is a cruel blow to them all and intensi-fies Joe's despair at the inevitable fate of the poor and helpless.

One stormy night on duty at his watchman's hut, Joe is visited by a heavenly vision in ,which Nell and others who have gone before explain to him that the poor and meek are blessed. Joe's faith and hope are restored, and this is reflected in his attitude to his neighbours who are drawn to the watch-man's fire for comfort advice and compan-ionship.

Benny, meanwhile has found it difficult to adjust to life without Nell, but a chance meeting with Eva, the young daughter of a wealthy Liverpool businessman changes his life. Eva takes pity on Benny and gives him a silver shilling which he regards as a lucky talisman and resolves never to spend. Later, at Eva's insistence, Mr. Lawrence employs Benny as an office boy. The children's

friendship develops and all goes well until Benny is accused of stealing a banknote. Mr. Lawrence decides not to press charges. On his release, Benny, unable to clear his name effectively, is too ashamed to return to his home and his friends and decides to leave Liverpool.

He wanders many miles and is found exhausted and near to death by a farming couple. The Fishers restore Benny to health and employ him on their farm.

During the years that follow Benny grows into a strong, healthy and reliable young man. He pursues his education at night school, but when the time comes for him to decide his future he resolves to return to Liverpool and seek employment there.

It is on one of his trips to Liverpool that he goes to the aid of a young lady who is being viciously attacked by thieves. He escorts her home where the injuries he sustained in her defence are attended to and the girl's father expresses his gratitude. They compare reminiscences of Liverpool during which it becomes clear that the girl's father is none other than Mr. Lawrence and that the banknote that Benny was alleged to have stolen had been found soon after Benny had left Liverpool and that Mr. Lawrence and Eva had made frantic efforts to trace the boy.

Benny reveals his identity and shows Eva his 'lucky shilling'. Now that his name is cleared, his future at Mr. Lawrence's firm is assured and a romance is developing between himself and Eva. Benny goes in search of his old friends and in the final scene he is joyfully re-united with Joe and Sally Wragg. They, together with the people of Live pool, join to reaffirm their belief in hope for the future.


Principal Roles

 Joe Wragg
Sally Wragg
Benny Bates
Older Benny
Nell Bates
Eva Lawrence
Older Eva
Mr. Lawrence  

 Supporting Roles

Flower Seller
Inspector Sharpe
Bread Seller
Jack Bates
Bertha Bates
Mrs. Fisher
Ballroom Orchestra
Reg the Rags
Hospital Doorman

Musical Numbers

Act I

  1. The Sights and Sounds of Our City The Company
  2. The Boy We Lost Joe and Sally Wragg
  3. Pictures in the Firelight Nell and Company
  4. Addler's Alley Jazzer and Company
  5. Drunken Parents Jack and Bertha Bates
  6. God Help Me Jack Bates
  7. Funny How Things Turn Out Sally, Jazzer, Insp. Sharpe
  8. Time Together Joe and Sally Wragg
  9. Eastham Ferry Nell, Young Benny, Sally and Company
  10. A Boy Like Him Young Eva
  11. Christmas Time Sally and Company
  12. Pictures in the Firelight Sniffer and Company

Act II

  1. Joe Wragg's Vision Joe and Company
  2. Thoughts of Love Mr. Lawrence and Young Eva
  3. Funny How Things Turn Out Sniffer, Sally, Young Eva Young Benny and Mr. Lawrence
  4. Mr Lawrence's Lament/Quartet Mr Lawrence, Insp. Sharpe, Young Benny and Young Eva
  5. Mastery of Fate Jazzer and Company
  6. What's Done Is Done Sniffer, Mr. Lawrence, and Joe
  7. As Long as I Believe Joe
  8. The Progress of Our Hero Benny Bates, Older Benny, Mr & Mrs Fisher, Milkmaid, Farmer, Cricketer, Duchess, and Teacher
  9. Time the Healer Older Eva
  10. Funny How Things Turn Out Mr. Lawrence
  11. Like an Answer to My Prayer Benny and Eva
  12. Follow Your Destiny Joe, Sally, Benny, Eva, Mr. Lawrence, and Company
  13. Finale The Company