The Likes of Us
A Musical in 2 Acts. Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber; Lyrics by Tim Rice
Written 1965. Presented at the Sydmonton Festival Theatre 9th July, 2005
A musical based on the life of Dr Thomas Barnardo. Barnardo was a fiery young medical student who gave up his plans to become a missionary in China when he realised the extent of the desperate homelessness of many children in his own city, which led to the foundation of the famous children's homes and the organisation that bears his name today. The musical is set in mid-Victorian London
The show opens at the Edinburgh Castle Gin Palace, an East End drinking establishment. Rose, the proverbial prostitute with a heart of gold, sings about her career.
Barnardo has ventured into the East End with the doomed intention of selling Bibles. The intellectual and driven Barnardo finds himself quite out of place with the cockneys of the Edinburgh Castle, and a row between them ensues. The result is that Barnardo is thrown out of the Edinburgh Castle. He meets Syrie Elmslie who was also attempting to strengthen the moral fibre of the locals.
Outside the Edinburgh Castle, Johnny Farthingay assures his girlfriend Jenny that although he can't buy her expensive presents, their love will keep them together. At first cynical, Jenny agrees with Johnny and the pair decide that although they don't have riches, their love for each other is all they need.
Troubled by recent events at the Edinburgh Castle, Barnardo introspectively reflects on the course his life is taking. While wandering London's streets, Barnardo encounters two homeless children. The children tell Barnardo how they must steal and beg to stay alive, and that their only place of refuge is among the rooftops of London. At first reluctant to believe their tale of woe, Barnardo convinces the children to take him to the rooftops so that he can view their conditions for himself.
Barnardo is deeply troubled by the conditions in which the children live. He decides that he is needed far more in his own country than in China. Despite uncertainty about what is the best course he should take, Barnardo resolves to stay in London to help the poor children. Unfortunately, Barnardo's efforts to help only serve to stir a sense of outrage in the local populace who feel he is meddling in their affairs.
Syrie hears of Barnardo's crusade to improve life for the children and offers her support. She suggests that Barnardo seek the aid of the Prime Minister. Barnardo sets off for Downing Street, and Syrie reflects optimistically on their future.
The politicians at Downing Street feel immensely patriotic when it comes to the great and noble empire that is England. As a result, Barnardo offends the cabinet when he attempts to explain that life in London is not bliss for everyone. However, Lord Shaftesbury - who is already a supporter of the underprivileged - is swayed by Barnardo. Lord Shaftesbury accompanies Barnardo to the rooftops to see the children. Appalled by what he witnesses, Lord Shaftesbury promises his support to Barnardo.
The cockneys are even less enthused. The romance between Johnny and Jenny is floundering. Barnardo realises that this route in life he has chosen means that he must depend on himself to be his own ally.
Act Two begins at a later point in time during which Barnardo's fortunes have taken a dramatic turn for the better. Barnardo has set up his first children's home, and he and Syrie care for the children.
However, Barnardo has failed to win over his detractors. He has been sued for fraud and a child in his care has died. The East End denizens hold an anti-Barnardo demonstration.
Inevitably, Barnardo and Syrie have fallen in love and hope that their happiness can last. Syrie attempts to console Jenny who is distraught as Johnny has ended their romance.
Barnardo is victorious in court and receives money in damages. The Edinburgh Castle is placed up for auction. Barnardo decides to buy it as his ownership will serve to quash the pub's evil influence and the building can be converted to further his cause.
Barnardo and Syrie marry. Their union provides the spark for two of the children to pretend they too will be a couple.
Barnardo converts the public house of the Edinburgh Castle into a tea and coffee only establishment.
Barnardo and Syrie are blissfully happy and discuss their plans for the future in their study at the Edinburgh Castle. The show closes with Barnardo and Syrie putting the children to bed.
- Introduction – Narrator
- Twice In Love Every Day – Rose and Chorus
- I'm A Very Busy Man – Barnardo and Cockneys
- Love Is Here – Johnny and Jenny
- Strange And Lovely Song – Barnardo
- The Likes Of Us – Children
- How Am I To Know – Barnardo
- We'll Get Him – Rose and Chorus
- This Is My Time – Syrie
- Lion-Hearted Land – Prime Minister and Cabinet
- We'll Get Him reprise – Rose and Chorus
- Love Is Here reprise – Johnny and Jenny
- A Man On His Own – Barnardo and Chorus
- You Can Never Make It Alone – Syrie and Children
- Hold A March – Rose and Chorus
- Will This Last Forever? – Barnardo and Syrie
- You Won't Care About Him Anymore – Syrie and Jenny
- Going, Going, Gone! – Auctioneer, Barnardo and Crowd
- Man Of The World – Cockney Children
- Have Another Cup Of Tea – Full Company
- Strange And Lovely Song reprise – Barnardo and Syrie
- The Likes Of Us reprise - Children
The Likes Of Us - Recorded Live At The Mermaid Theatre, London CD