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Cover to Brooklyn Academy of Music cast recording

Let 'Em Eat Cake

Music by George Gershwin: Lyrics by Ira Gershwin: Book by George S. Kaufman and Morrie Ryskind

Imperial Theatre - 21 October, 1933 (89 perfs)


A sequel show to Of Thee I Sing, Let 'Em Eat Cake is not so much a political spoof as a nightmare vision of fascist America, and, as it turned out (with hindsight) to be a satire on "practically everything else." The horrors of the depression and the of the fascist movements in Italy and Germany changed the focus of what would have been a direct satire on American electioneering.

Wintergreen and Throttlebottom, in their bid for re-election have been defeated by John P. Tweedledee. Taking their cues from the fascist powers, Wintergreen and his fellow politicians, abetted by the muddled pundits of Union Square decide to overthrow the government.

The army, promised all the war debts, quickly takes his side. Finally, it is agreed that any niggling differences will be settled by a baseball game between the Supreme Court and members of the League of Nations. Throttlebottom is appointed umpire. His decisions prove controversial, so much so that he is sentenced to the guillotine. Mary, however, unites the women of America and a happy ending prevails.


Nearly four years have passed since John P Wintergreen became President of the United States, and his re-election campaign is in full swing. But this time, he and Vice-President Throttlebottom face serious competition and their glib slogans (among them, "The Same Promises as Last Time") fail to impress an electorate mired in the Depression: Tweedledee receives the greatest popular vote ever accorded a Presidential candidate. When the Supreme Court Justices refuse to throw out the election, Wintergreen accepts defeat; he and his wife Mary arrange to move to New York.
They set up shop on Union Square, selling blue shirts that Mary makes. But business is slow, owing largely to the country's sagging economy. Outside a malcontent named Kruger warns of impending revolution, furnishing Wintergreen with an inspiration: Why not lead the revolution? Italy has its black shirts, Germany its brown shirts. Wintergreen will sell blue shirts to every man in America and promise a revolution or your money

Months pass, and from the now prosperous store (Shirts by the Millions) Throttlebottom anticipates the impending coup while Mary and John reveal the secret of their success. Mary plots to secure the backing of the female constituency, but what they need most is the support of the Army. Unfortunately, General Snookfield belongs to the Union League Club, a conservative social group that frowns on revolutions. Throttlebottom, whose uncle is a waiter at the club, is sent there to seek an endorsement.

The League members are a few centuries behind the times; For them, news of a revolution conjures up visions of the British marching on Bunker Hill, and they eagerly join such a patriotic cause. Soon a confident Wintergreen and crew are heading for Washington.

On the lawn of the White House, General Snookfield summons his troops in preparation to join up with the revolutionary forces. Wintergreen and his followers disrupt Tweedledee's Fourth of July speech only to receive some bad news: Summoned away by his playmate, Trixie, The General's Gone to a Party. Mary urges the Army to support her husband; when Wintergreen promises them the war debts, they eagerly overthrow Tweedledee's democracy. Wintergreen announces a new dictatorship of the proletariat.

As the White House is repainted in the spirit of the revolution, blue, Wintergreen settles into his new job, relishing his absolute power. He
turns the Supreme Court into a baseball team and appoints Throttlebottom umpire. When ten representatives from The League of Nations arrive to discuss their war debts, only Finland is willing to pay. Wintergreen devises a solution: a baseball game for the war debts — double or nothing — with the Supreme Court Justices playing the nine remaining members of the League of Nations.

Outside the ball park, the judges exert pressure on Umpire Throttlebottom as they warm up. The League of Nations also tries to strong-arm Throttlebottom. And the game begins.

The results are revealed later in a military courtroom where Throttlebottom is being tried for conspiracy. Despite the defendant's protests prosecutor Kruger convinces the court to Throttle Throttlebottom and sentence him to the guillotine. The ensuing Trial of Wintergreen brings a similar verdict as Wintergreen and his committee are sentenced to be beheaded at dawn. As Kruger proclaims himself dictator, he and Trixie celebrate their new regime.

The following day reveals the crowd in a merry mood. Wintergreen and his cohorts are led to the guillotine, but Mary halts the proceedings with a Fashion Show of the latest Paris styles. Only blue can be worn under the revolution, Mary reminds the ladies present; however, if Kruger is overthrown, they will be free to dress as they please. Acquiescing to the female populace, the Army seizes Kruger.

Wintergreen restores the Republic, but gives up his dreams of the Presidency to open a new clothing store. Since Tweedledee has accepted an offer to run Cuba, Throttlebottom becomes President.

Tommy Krasker

Musical Numbers:

  1. Tweedledee For President
  2. Shirts By the Millions
  3. Come the Revolution
  4. Mine
  5. Climb Up the Social Ladder
  6. The Union League
  7. On and On and On
  8. I've Brushed My Teeth
  9. All the Mothers of the Nation
  10. Let 'Em Eat Cake
  11. Blue, Blue, Blue
  12. Who's the Greatest
  13. Up and At 'Em
  14. That's What He Did
  15. I Know a Foul Ball
  16. First Lady and First Gent
  17. Hanging Throttlebottom In the Morning