Milk and Honey
Music and lyrics by Jerry Herman: Book by Don Appell
Martin Beck Theatre, Broadway - October 10, 1961 (543 perfs)
The calmness of a morning street scene in modern Jerusalem is shattered when a policeman orders a Yemenite boy to remove his flock of sheep to a side street. Phil Arkin, an American visiting his married daughter, defends the boy, and in the ensuing fracas he meets Ruth Stein, a tourist travelling with a group of widows from the United States. She is impressed with Phil's command of Hebrew as he explains the meaning of the word Shalom.
They keep running into each other and together they celebrate Israel's Independence Day. Their friendship begins to deepen and Phil's conscience starts troubling him. Although he has been separated from his wife for many years, he does not think it right to continue seeing Ruth since he is still a married man. Phil's daughter Barbara, however, likes Ruth and invites her to go with them to the farm that she and her husband own in the Negev. After some hesitation, Ruth accepts.
On the farm - called a Moshav - Phil tries to talk Barbara and David, her husband into going back to Baltimore with him. But the young man vows his devotion to his country and is joined in its praise by his neighbours, including his cynical friend Adi, who claims he would rather live in the city.
Phil, who is falling in love with Ruth, asks her to stay at the Moshav a little longer. In fact, he is even thinking of building a house of his own there that he would like her to share.
Meanwhile, the group of touring widows comes to visit the Moshav. When they eye the virile young farmers, the ladies, led by Clara Weiss reveal their hopes of finding suitable husbands. Though their dreams are quickly dashed when all the men turn out to be married, Clara is still optimistic.
Later, Phil tells Ruth that he has bought the property for a home, and she gives him her approval. But Barbara is shocked at the news, and urges her father to tell Ruth about his marriage. Reluctantly he does, but he also tells her why she must remain. At a wedding ceremony that they attend Phil and Ruth, envious of the younger people, express their deep love for each other and, forgetting the consequences for the moment, go off together.
Phil energetically feels the spirit of the new land and goes out to work the fields with the other farmers. Barbara, however, brings news that Ruth, realising the consequences of living with a married man, has run away to Tel Aviv, and Phil goes off to bring her back. When they are alone, David, convinced that Barbara really longs to go back to the United States, asserts that he would go anywhere to be with her.
In Tel Aviv, Phil finds Clara at the Cafe Hotok, but she refuses to tell him where Ruth is. When he leaves, Clara accidentally meets Sol Horowitz, a widower from Jerusalem, and they promptly show mutual interest. Alone, she seeks her late husband's permission to remarry if Sol proposes.
Back at the Moshav, Phil, after much inner conflict, realises that it would be wrong to live with Ruth. Although she comes back to him he tells her that she must leave.
At Lydda Airport, outside of Tel Aviv, the touring widows are preparing to board the aeroplane home. Phil and Ruth have their final, brief moment together during which he promises to fly to Paris, where his wife lives, and plead for a divorce. Ruth boards the plane with the hope that somehow Phil will succeed and she will be able to come back to him.
- Overture - Orchestra
- Shepherd's Song - Shepherd Boy
- Shalom - Phil and Ruth
- Independence Day Hora - Company
- Milk and Honey - David and Adi plus Company
- There's No Reason In the World - Phil
- Chin Up, Ladies - Clara Weiss and Widows
- That Was Yesterday - Ruth and Company
- Let's Not Waste A Moment - Phil
- The Wedding - Ruth, Phil and Company
- Like A Young Man - Phil
- I Will Follow You - David
- Hymn To Hymie - Clara
- As Simple As That - Ruth and Phil
- Finale - Company
Original Broadway Cast - RCA Victor - 09026-61997-2