ME AND JULIET
A Musical Comedy in 2 Acts, 17 Scenes. Book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II. Music by Richard Rodgers.
Majestic Theatre, Broadway: Opened 28th May, 1953; closed 3rd April, 1954 (358 performances)
In 1952 Richard Rodgers suggested to Oscar Hammerstein that as a change of pace they might write a musical comedy. The experience of writing four hugely popular shows was bound to colour any future work that was to be written, and the result was a highly successful musical hybrid. The story is set in the theatre world and theatre people, revolving round the inner mechanism of a musical show and two sets of lovers, who inevitably find happiness before the final curtain. Songs include "Keep It Gay", "We Deserve Each Other", It's Me" and "No Other love".
At the theatre where the musical Me and Juliet is playing, we meet the company's backstage characters - electricians Sidney and Bob, the latter a bruiser, very full of himself and quite nonchalant about standing up his girlfriend, chorus girl Jeanie (who ruefully sings A Very Special Day and That's the Way It Happens). Larry the Assistant Stage Manager is also sweet on Jeanie, but acknowledges that Bob has 'beaten him to it' (a reprise of That's the Way It Happens with a neatly-altered lyric); Mac, the Stage Manager, is a shrewd type whose latest ruse to keep the temperamental conductor Dario from quitting is to send him a gardenia each night with a note from a mysterious lady admirer. Before the curtain rises we also meet Lily and Charlie, the leads; Charlie is of course grumbling about the orchestra - but he leaves it to Mac to tell Dario!
During and after the Overture Dario sniffs his gardenia passionately, peering round the audience for the unknown admirer. The Prologue, sung by Me (Charlie) and Juliet (Lily) features her song Marriage Type Love; on the light bridge, Sidney and Bob comment on the stage action and Bob identifies himself with the Don Juan-type character in the play (Keep It Gay).
The next scene is an audition; Charlie's protégée Betty, who is in another show that is just closing, gets the part of Carmen after reading and singing (reprise of Keep It Gay) - much to Mac's annoyance, because he had been getting along fine with her and cannot now break his rule 'never with a girl in your own company'. He has also given this stern advice to Larry, who is there to coach Jeanie as a replacement understudy for Juliet. First, he has to encourage her to lose her fear of the audience (The Big Black Giant). She blossoms, to sing No Other Love so intensely that it develops into a duet, but the spell is broken when Bob enters, mocking her. After she has left, completely unnerved, Larry is alone onstage for a moment and is accosted by Bob who threatens him, in no uncertain terms, to 'keep off.
In the autumn, the backstage gossip is how Jeanie is seeing Larry and making sure Bob doesn't find out. Betty makes a huge play for Mac and is delighted to find how jealous he still is of her and Charlie. She is now sharing a dressing-room with Jeanie, who has reverted to the chorus and is filling in as Betty's dresser and they both delight in being stage-struck (It's Me!). After Betty leaves to go onstage, Larry enters and we learn that he and Jeanie have just got married - but how are they to tell Bob? They don't need to - Sidney, on the light bridge with Bob during the big Act 1 finale, blurts out too much; at the moment when Jeanie, as a flower girl, comes offstage and passes Larry at the ASM desk and they kiss briefly, Bob turns a spot on them and even after they break he follows her right across the stage with it, and looses off a sandbag which almost hits her, while onstage the finale ploughs desperately on and panic breaks out offstage.
In the lobby, the interval audience comes out to comment on the show (Inter-mission) after Ruby the Company Manager has hidden Larry in the company office and Herbie the candy counter boy has hidden Jeanie under a pile of lemonade cartons. Bob blunders around, looking for them, then goes to drink in the bar opposite (It Feels Good), to keep watch on the theatre exit.
Jeanie has joined Larry in the office. He is ashamed of being physically scared of Bob, but this is unimportant to Jeanie (I'm Your Girl). Bob breaks through the window, homicidal, carrying a wrench and desperate to get Larry, but he knocks himself out on a radiator when they grapple. When he recovers, Mac and Ruby tell him Jeanie and Larry have just got married. Backstage after the final curtain, Larry, deputising for Mac, orders a part reprise of No Other Love, which Jeanie sings in place of the absent Lily; Bob appears and acknowledges defeat when Larry, now in command, quietly tells him of the following morning's rehearsal time, as Jeanie sings - for Larry alone - 'No Other Love Have I'.
14 men, 9 women, chorus
(in order of appearance):
- George, Second Assistant Stage Manager
- Sidney, Electrician (A rabbit-like man, better at stage lighting than at tact.)
- Jeanie, Chorus Singer (Her stage talent probably won't go further than understudy, but she is loving and confident with the man of her ultimate choice)
- Herbie, Candy Counter Boy (The joker and general chum to one and all.)
- Trio: Chris, Rehearsal Piano Player, Milton, Drummer, Stu, Bass Fiddle Player
- Michael, A Chorus Boy
- Bob, Electrician (A bully and a womaniser; we wonder what drew Jeanie to him originally.)
- Larry, Assistant Stage Manager (Maybe he will also never be at the top of his profession but he has found his true love and also the courage to face the bully when all depended on it.)
- Mac, Stage Manager (Capable and disciplined, he is also prone to mindless jealousy when manipulated)
- Monica, Chorus Dancer
- Ruby, Company Manager (The I-may-look-calm-but-actually-I'm-panicking-underneath Company Manager.)
- Charlie (Me), Featured Lead (A thumbnail-sketch of a leading man" with all the appropriate overtones.)
- Dario, Conductor (The maestro, down to the gardenia in his lapel. Pretty gullible, too.)
- Lily (Juliet), Singing Principal (The female lead in 'the show')
- Jim (Don Juan), Principal Dancer
- Susie (Susie), Principal Dancer
- Voice of Mr. Harrison, Producer
- Voice of Miss Davenport, Choreographer
- Hilda, an aspirant for a dancing part
- Marcia, another aspirant for a dancing part
- Betty Loraine, successor to Susie as Principal Dancer (Fun, ambitious, and a real man-manager.)
- Buzz, Principal Dancer
- Ralph, Alley Dancer
- Miss Oxford, a bit player
- Sadie, an usher
- Mildred, Another Usher
- A Theatre Patron
- Another Theatre Patron
Dancing Ensemble: Singing Ensemble:
Reed I (flute, piccolo, clarinet, baritone sax), Reed II (oboe, cor anglais, clarinet, tenor sax), Reed III (clarinet, flute, alto sax), Reed IV (flute, clarinet, bass clarinet), Reed V (clarinet, bassoon, tenor and bass sax), horn, 4 trumpets, 3 trombones, percussion, piano, harp, strings
Scenes and Settings
The entire action takes place in and around the theatre in which 'Me and Juliet' is playing.
- Scene 1: Backstage.
- Scene 2: The Orchestra Pit.
- Scene 3: First Scene of 'Me and Juliet.'
- Scene 4: The Light Bridge.
- Scene 5: During performance of 'Me and Juliet.'
- Scene 6: Backstage.
- Scene 7: The Alley leading to the Stage Door.
- Scene 8: Betty's Dressing Room.
- Scene 9: The Light Bridge.
- Scene 10: Night Club Scene in 'Me and Juliet' and Backstage.
- Scene 1: Downstairs Lounge in the Theatre.
- Scene 2: The Bar across the Street.
Scene 3: A Second Act Sequence of 'Me and Juliet.'
- Scene 4: Theatre Manager's Office.
- Scene 5: The Orchestra Pit.
- Scene 6: Last Scene of 'Me and Juliet.'
- Scene 7: Backstage.
Original Broadway Cast Recording - RCA Victor 09026-61480-2