a musical play with book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, based on the novel 'Sweet Thursday' by John Steinbeck; music by Richard Rodgers.
Opened at the Shubert Theatre, 30 November 1955 with William Johnson (Doe), Helen Traubel (Fauna), G. D. Wallace (Mac), Mike Kellin (Hazel) and Judy Tyler (Suzy).
In a Biological Laboratory Doc is forever testing marine biological specimens, which he rates about the same as the rest of creation. He sings about the creatures to Mac and Hazel, mates of his who live with a lot of other Cannery Row dropouts in the "Palace Flophouse", a former fishmeal warehouse. Doe's girlfriend Millicent isn't too keen on his friends, and certainly not on Suzy, a stranger who has cut her hand breaking a store window to grab two doughnut, and ]Doe bandages it (though he's not really a Doctor). She's also a down-and-out traveller and is lucky that Fauna, the owner of the Bear Flag Café, agrees to take her in as one of her 'girls' when Jim the policeman comes to try to move her on.
Suzy had asked Doe what he was going to do with all his research and, stung, he had said he was going to write and deliver a paper. Now, two weeks later, it's worrying him because he needs a big microscope to complete his research and he hasn't got the $300 it costs - so his Flophouse friends decide to help him. At the Flophouse, as a jug of drink goes round, the lads contemplate their shiftless lifestyle.
Mac has idea to solve Doe's financial problems. Joe, a Mexican shopkeeper who is new to the area, doesn't yet know that he owns the Flophouse along with his shop. Mac decides to raffle the Flophouse off and fix it so that Doe wins. The Flophouse lads will then use the raffle proceeds to buy Doe's microscope! Joe, in blissful ignorance, is impressed with the idea and promises to sell a lot of tickets.
Suzy brings Doe a cake, ostensibly from Fauna, but obviously from herself. She has been sneaking in, cleaning up his place, leaving food on the cooker - and is very defensive when he gets suspicious. She tells him all Cannery Row is laughing at his big ideas, and he becomes quite morose. At Fauna's suggestion he asks Suzy to dinner, and Fauna is very pleased with herself, but has to talk hard to give Suzy confidence. With all of Cannery Row watching, Doe calls for Suzy and takes her to a shore-side seafood restaurant where their awkwardness melts in the romantic atmosphere.
The next morning, Fauna and her girls are admiring the Bear Flag's newly-designed Christmas card . She continues her campaign to get the shamefaced Suzy to marry Doe, and she and the girls are also planning a big fancy dress party for the raffle result the following evening. It takes place at the Flophouse and Fauna has arranged a wacky pageant of Snow White (Suzy, in bridal dress), the Seven Dwarfs and assorted fairy tale characters, most of whom are less than sober. Suzy, egged on by Fauna, sings Will You Marry Me? to Doe, but both Doe's and her nerve fail them and they rush away.
The next morning, we find Suzy, determined to make it on her own, deciding to go and live in a disused boiler on the shore, which she calls a pipe. Hazel is having great trouble-how to help Doe out of his predicament, But it is Joe who does it - by going to serenade her in the boiler, he makes Doe furiously jealous, and although Doe's mettle needs a lot of stiffening with advice from his friends, he goes to Suzy, laden with flowers, they have a heart-to-heart talk - and say goodbye again, though he doesn't see how Suzy cries as he leaves. Muscle-bound Hazel blunders along; in his foggy way, he just wants to know what would make Suzy do something for Doc - and her answer gives him a brilliant idea. Whilst Doe is asleep, Hazel breaks Doe's arm with a baseball bat. As a result Doe needs someone to look after him, and that someone is, of course, Suzy. All is happily resolved as the entire population of Cannery Row pours into Doc's laboratory to interrupt the tender scene and present him with the prize piece of equipment - does it matter that it's a telescope, not a microscope? Not a bit, not on sweet Thursday!
- DOC - Rather a 'loner', devoted to his work, but secretly hungry for a permanent attachment.
- HAZEL - Big on physical strength and loyalty to Doc, rather small on intellect.
- MAC - The shrewdest and most organised member of the Flop-house Palace family.
- SUZY - Starting as a downtrodden defiant waif, she grows and blossoms, first from Fauna's motherly care, then from the man's love she needs.
- FAUNA - The mother-earth type with a big shoulder to cry on and a big heart to go with it.
- JIM - The soft-hearted cop of Cannery Row.
- JOE - A Mexican shopkeeper without too much between the ears.
- GEORGE, BILL, ALEC, EDDIE, WHITEY, RED - The Flophouse Palace crew.
- RAY - George's brother-in-law, who has come to take him home.
- JOHNNY CARRIAGA - A little boy on Cannery Row.
- AGNES, MABEL, BEULAH, EMMA, BECKY, MARILYN, CHO CHO SEN, MARJORIE - Girls at the Bear Flag Café
- All Kinds of People
- The Tide Pool
- Everybody's Got a Home But Me
- On a Lopsided Bus
- The Man I Used to Be
- Sweet Thursday
- Suzy is a Good Thing
- All At Once You Love Her
- The Happiest House on the Block
- Will You Marry Me?
- How Long?
- The Next Time it Happens
- Sweet Thursday!
Orchestration by Robert Russell Bennett
Flute; 2 Clarinets; 2 Horns' 2 Trumpets; Trombone; Percussion; Piano; Strings