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A Pocketful of Rhymes

Music by Jeanne Bargy and Jim Eiler: Book and lyrics by Jim Eiler. Based on Mother Goose rhymes


This is another delightful Prince Street Players show and is based on the traditional Mother Goose rhymes. This is a wacky revue mixing well-loved folk songs with a crazy collection of melody and fun.

Mother Goose introduces the next generation to her “greatest hits” in this energetic musical revue. Classic nursery rhymes are set to a catchy contemporary score that covers the range of 20th century music. Enormously popular, the original production – staged with only a chair and six blocks – played limited engagements on Broadway and even inspired a CBS television series.


A rocking chair sits on stage. On it are a bell and a book of Mother Goose rhymes. Suddenly, we are greeted by seven lively boys and girls, welcoming us to the hootenanny that is the swingin’ Mother Goose’s “Pocketful of Rhymes.” Of course, they tell us, “Nobody Really Knows” who Mother Goose was. They present several theories, but the real point is the rhymes, which come from all over the world. It doesn’t matter who Mother Goose really was – especially once she joins the cast on stage.

Mother Goose rings the bell, calling the Pocketful of Rhymes to order. She takes roll call, introducing the cast. Then, through “Games, Riddles, and Rhymes,” she explains all the different kinds of nursery rhymes there are: lullabies, prayers, love songs, wise sayings, riddles, tongue twisters, teaching rhymes, and games. The boys and girls play tag, bounce balls, ride a see-saw and hobby horses, all to Mother Goose rhymes.

The cast begs Mother Goose to sing them a lullaby, and she sets the scene of a farm house at nightfall, with “Little Boy Blue” falling asleep. With the help of the boys and girls, Mother Goose explains the origins of some of her most famous rhymes: “Sing a Song of Sixpence,” and “Yankee Doodle.” While she’s in a patriotic mood, Mother Goose wonders aloud if Betsy Ross, sewing the American flag, might have sung “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.”

The cast then dramatizes the tale of “The Spider and the Fly,” about a wicked spider who lures a naïve fly into its web with false flattery. They perform “Hickory Dickory Dock” as the mechanical figures of a musical clock, playing on percussion instruments and whistles.

Mother Goose announces 'a very unusual musical extravaganza,' called “Civilization And The Nursery Rhyme!” With the help of the boys and girls, she imagines cavemen paying homage to “Old King Cole,” the cat-worshipping Egyptians looking for “Pussy Cat” and “Jack and Jill” in ancient Greece climbing the Acropolis. She travels around the world: “Mary Had A Little Lamb” takes on a Far Eastern flavour, and “There Was An Old Woman” becomes a hora. Travelling around Europe, “Little Bo Peep” and “Simple Simon” become characters in a Louis XIV-era music box; “Jack Be Nimble” dances a flamenco; “Little Jack Horner” does a tarantella; the English make fun of “The Butcher, The Baker, The Candlestick Maker”; “Tom The Piper’s Son” plays the Scottish bagpipes; Russian boatmen dance to “Hi Diddle Diddle”; and Austrians waltz to “Jack Sprat.” Coming back home to America, Mother Goose and company charge through the ages: “Little Miss Muffet” is a flapper, “Humpty Dumpty” swings, and Elvis croons the “Little Girl Blues.” Here Civilization comes to a rousing, dancing, rapping, aerobic fin-de-siècle finale.

Finally, Mother Goose offers a new rhyme for her collection: a vision of the world as “One Big Happy Family.” All the boys and girls agree and join in.


4 female (including Mother Goose), 4 male. The cast may be expanded.

Note: Children in cast. The number of girls and boys used in production can easily be enlarged, which can enhance the overall production values. The girls and boys use their own first names throughout. They are good hearted and enthusiastic with good voices and good dancing abilities. Mother Goose always plays that character.

Girls: Soprano, Mezzo-Soprano and Alto
Boys: Tenor, Baritone and Bass

Musical Numbers

  1. A Pocketful Of Rhymes - All, Mother Goose
  2. Nobody Really Knows - All, Mother Goose
  3. A Pocketful Of Rhymes (Part II) - All, Mother Goose
  4. Games Medley - All, Mother Goose
  5. Little Boy Blue - All, Mother Goose
  6. Song Of Sixpence - All, Mother Goose
  7. Yankee Doodle - All, Mother Goose
  8. Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star - All, Mother Goose
  9. Spider & The Fly - All, Mother Goose
  10. Hickery Dickery Dock - All, Mother Goose
  11. Old King Cole - All, Mother Goose
  12. Pussycat - All, Mother Goose
  13. Jack And Jill - All, Mother Goose
  14. Mary Had A Little Lamb - All, Mother Goose
  15. Simple Simon & Bo Peep - 1st Girl, 2nd Boy
  16. Jack Be Nimble - All, Mother Goose
  17. Little Jack Horner - 3rd Boy, All
  18. Butcher, Baker, Candlestickmaker - Boys
  19. Tom The Piper's Son - All, Mother Goose
  20. Hi Diddle Diddle - All, Mother Goose
  21. Jack Sprat - All, Mother Goose
  22. Little Miss Muffet - Girls
  23. Humpty Dumpty - All, Mother Goose
  24. Little Girl Blues - 3rd Boy
  25. Civilization Finale - All, Mother Goose
  26. One Big Happy Family - All, Mother Goose