Original programme cover
Book and Lyrics by Robert Longden : Music by Hereward Kaye and Robert Longden : Additional lyrics by Hereward Kaye : The authors would like to reluctantly acknowledge interference from Russell Ochocki and Cameron Mackintosh.
Picadilly Theatre, 17 March, 1992
This is a fun show about a girls' school performing Moby Dick as a musical fundraiser.
The girls of St. Godley's School are in trouble! Money for the school has run out and the place will have to close. Leave it to these resourceful girls, and their unflappable headmistress (played by a man in drag), to come up with a plan to keep the school afloat. Using whatever they can find at hand, the girls mount an original production: a musical version of Moby Dick, featuring their headmistress in the coveted role of Captain Ahab.
A cult-favorite in London in the 1990s, Moby Dick! The Musical has been re-conceived for an American sensibility. As Melville rolls in his grave, our spirited girls run roughshod over the classic as they carry on with their presentation. Warning: this is NOT your ordinary musical version of Moby Dick! What The Rocky Horror Show does to late night horror movies, Moby Dick! The Musical does to Herman Melville!
As the girls perform their adaptation of the classic novel, they come to have an appreciation of education and camaraderie - NOT! Filled with double and triple entendre, and more goofy humour than you can imagine, the St. Godley School presentation of Moby Dick! The Musical is guaranteed to make your audiences laugh in spite of themselves.
In order to save their bankrupt school that’s seen better days, the girls of St. Godley’s Academy for Young Ladies decide to put on a musical version of Moby Dick. The highly comic, satirical romp through this age-old mariner’s tale that follows proves to be a world of endless, funny double entendres and wonderful, pastiche company numbers.
As the play opens, the scene is one of general chaos – Ishmael (all of the characters are referred to by the names the play in the story of Moby Dick), sits at the piano composing a song. Pip, the school’s security guard has been gagged and tied to a chair as other students play basketball and throw paper airplanes. The Janitor enters and asks Ishmael to start choir practice. Ishmael plays as the school’s headmistress enters. After a rousing rendition of the “School Hymn”, she informs her students that due to bankruptcy, the school will close at the end of the term. The girls, determined not to return to their horrible, boring lives outside St. Godley’s vow to save it. They decide they need to throw a “big fat fundraiser” and Ishmael offers her newly penned musical version of Moby Dick. The girls quickly get on board with the idea and the Headmistress passes out parts, making herself Captain Ahab (“Moby Dick”).
By the end of this company number, we are at opening night of the show. A nervous Ishmael takes the stage and opens the musical (“I Live and Breathe”). She sings of her passion for the sea, the magic of the water, and her love of adventure. She lands, at the end of her song, on the docks of Nantucket where we meet the crew of the Pequod, a whaling ship recently returned from a hunting trip gone bad as Captain Ahab lost his leg (and quite a bit more) to a savage whale (“In Old Nantucket”). Finally, Ishmael, who’s been looking for affordable lodgings for the evening finds an available bed (and a curious bunkmate) at the Spouter Inn.
Meanwhile, Esta, Ahab’s wife waits fretfully for her husband’s safe return (“A Man Happens”). He arrives, accompanied by Pip and a chest overflowing with gold (“Ahab’s Homecoming”) and breaks the bad news to her – not only has he lost his leg to the rogue whale Moby Dick, but his manhood as well. He will not be able to father her children. Esta inappropriately giggles when he reveals his ivory stump and the other guests at Ahab’s homecoming follow suit. Humiliated, Ahab denounces Esta (who immediately jumps out a window to a watery death) and he returns to the safety of his cabin aboard the Pequod. Later that evening, Pip attends a very drunk Ahab. While he pledges his devotion to the Captain, Ahab pines for his lost Esta (“Love Will Always”).
At the Spouter Inn, however, things are a bit more jovial. Peter Coffin, the innkeeper, is introducing Ishamel to the crew of the Pequod. Things take a turn for the worse, however, when Ishmael learns he’s to lodge the night with Queequeg, their cannibalistic crewmate who’s off selling shrunken heads. But Queequeg turns out to be a good guy and he and Ishmael become friends (“Primitive”).
Over at the Pequod, Ahab has passed out from far too much rum. Pip prays for peace in his soul, but Ahab only dreams of Esta. In his dream, she tells him he belongs to the sea, and Ahab awakens with a start – determined to kill the rogue whale, Moby Dick (“A Sinking Man”).
The next morning, Ishmael and Queequeg go to hear Father Mapple deliver his Sunday sermon and to seek blessings before their voyage (“Jonah Fell”). They then set off in search of a ship that will engage them as crew. Queequeg tells Ishmael that he will know the right ship “in his bones.” Ishmael picks the Pequod (“Pequod”); but as they are about to sign up, Elijah, the crazy one-armed lackey, tells them Ahab and his ship are cursed (“At Sea One Day”). Undeterred by his foreboding warnings, Ishamel and Queequeg find Starbuck and sign up anyway. They set sail on Christmas Day (“Building America”).
After a brief curtain speech by the Headmistress begging for funds, we return immediately to the story (“Moby Dick Reprise”) as Ishmael brings us up to speed. The Pequod has successfully weathered a winter of storms. Pip and the crew are relaxed and lively as the boat approaches the equator (“Deck Dance”). They’ve been at sea exactly a year, and finally, a crazed Ahab appears from his cabin. He proffers a gold dubloon saying it belongs to the crewman who spots the great white whale he seeks – Moby Dick. Ishmael climbs into the crow’s nest and spies instead a herd of black whale. Ahab decides while they’re waiting for Moby Dick to appear they mind as well hunt, all the while keeping a sideward glance for the great prize (“Heave Away”).
Ahab appears on deck to examine the kill. Growing weary of Ahab’s increasing delusions, Starbuck confronts Ahab in his cabin saying he came on the ship to hunt, not be a pawn to Ahab’s vengeance. Ahab tells him he’s aware of his obsession, but can’t help succumbing to it (“Can’t Keep Out The Night”).
Back in the crew’s quarters, Starbuck tries to rally the men to mutiny against their insane Captain and vows to kill him (“Whale Of A Tale”); but at the last minute, Starbuck can’t bring himself to do it. Haunted by the voices of Moby Dick and his deceased, slightly decomposed wife Esta, Ahab sleepwalks about his cabin convinced they are nearing the great whale (“Love Will Always - Reprise”). Starbuck appears from the shadows and tries to convince Ahab to turn his ship around and go home. At that moment, Ishmael spots an English whaling ship. Captain Gardiner boards the Pequod saying he’s been hot on the trail of a great white whale and has lost his crew (including his 12 year old son) in the process (“The Rachel”). Gardiner retreats to his ship as crew braces for a storm at sea (“Storm (instrumental)”). Although Starbuck considers the storm a bad omen and Pip is killed when he is blown overboard, Ahab presses madly on (“Shadows Of The Deep”).
The next morning, despite the calm seas, the crew is convinced the ship is cursed. Queequeg casts bones on the deck and prophesizes his own death (“Bones”). When he goes into one of his usual trances Flask tries to steal all his money. Ishmael comes to Queequeg’s defense and a fight ensues (“Fight – Instrumental”). Ahab emerges on deck to break things up and smells a strange odor – Moby Dick. The crew madly harpoons the whale, but Moby Dick eludes them (“Heave Two”). At last the whale rams the ship; and as the crew swims for their lives, Ahab submits to Moby Dick. Only Ishmael, floating on Queequeg’s coffin, survives to be picked up by The Rachel the next day.
The story over, the cast jumps off the set, joyfully congratulating each other on a job well done. The Headmistress enters in an outrageous gown with two suitcases bursting with cash. She hands off one suitcase to each security guard, proclaims the school saved, and everyone parties (“Moby Dick Finale”).
- Hymn - Company
- Parent's Day - Company
- Forbidden Seas - Ishmael & Company
- In Old Nantucket - Company
- A Man Happens - Esta & Swarm
- Gypsy Dancer - Ahab, Gypsy King and Company
- Love Will Always - Pip, Esta & Company
- Primitive - Queequeg, Ishmael & Company
- Punish Us - Sylvia, Esta & Company
- People Build Walls - Ahab, Pip & Company
- Pequod - Ishmael, Queequeg, Stubb and Starbuck
- At Sea One Day - Elijah, Ishmael, Queequeg & Company
- Building America - Starbuck, Stubb, Wife & Company
- Mr Starbuck - Ahab & Company
- Heave - Stubb & Swarm
- Deck Dance - Pip & Company
- Can't Keep Out the Night - Ahab & Company
- Whale Of A Tale - Starbuck & Company
- Ship Ahoy - English Captain & Company
- Shadows Of the Deep - Ishmael
- Storm - Ahab & Company
- Save the Whale - Guards & Company
(With alternate roles)
- Dorothy Hyman (Headmistress) / Ahab
- Lolita Meadworthy / Esta / Tashtego
- Trixie Shedbanger / Starbuck
- Cora Klein / Pip / Chilean
- Manda Snorter / Queequeg
- Isadora Slapsaddle / Flask / Landlord
- Fifi Clampwell / Ishmael
- Fanny Goldenshowzer IV / Stubb / Gypsy King
- Sylvia Booth and the Voices
- Fred / Elijah / Dagoo / English Captain
plus chorus to make The Swarm & Security Guards
Original London Cast (Live recording) - First Night Records DICK CD 1