a musical drama in two acts. Book by Elmer Rice. Lyrics by Langston Hughes. Music by Kurt Weill.
First produced at the Shubert Theatre, Philadelphia, 16 December 1946
Adelphi Theatre, Broadway - 9 January, 1947 (148 Perfs)
Produced by Scottish Opera at the Theatre Royal, Glasgow on 23 May 1989
Outside an East Side New York tenement on a June evening, the inhabitants are commiserating about the weather - Mrs. Fiorento, The Jones, The Olsens and Abraham Kaplan, a left-winger pouring scorn on the 'capitalist press'. The women gossip about the man who is a regular visitor to Mrs. Maurrant, but stop when she joins them. Kaplan's son Sam comes by to ask if Rose, Anna Maurrant's daughter, is at home, but is disappointed. Frank Maurrant, a Broadway stagehand, arrives home; he flares up in anger at his daughter not being home yet and at his wife not being sure where she is. Anna tries to excuse his behaviour to the others but is obviously worn out with his bullying and drudgery, though she clings to the hope of 'a brighter day'. Her 'visitor' comes by: Mr. Sankey, "the collector for the milk company", ostensibly on his way to the drugstore. Anna quickly follows him, and the neighbours continue to cluck about it. Mrs. Fiorentino's husband Lippo arrives, with ice-cream cones for everyone, which are rapturously received.
Willie Maurrant is not home yet and his father threatens to beat the daylights out of him; this starts an argument with Kaplan, who Maurrant threatens to beat up, bitterly denouncing "the kind of things going on nowadays". The Hildrebrands arrive home - proud of daughter Jenny, who has just graduated with a prize, but dejected because tomorrow they are to be dispossessed. The neighbours cheer them up with a little party; Willie Maurrant comes home, crying from a fight with the local bully, who had called his mother a whore. The group breaks up, but with menace in the air. Sam muses on his own loneliness in such a crowd of people.
Rose arrives, accompanied by Harry Easter, a predatory boss with a tempting line. She persuades him to go as her father appears and there is the expected row. Mr. Buchanan, another neighbour, asks her to go fetch the doctor for his wife who is in labour.
Dick McGann and Mae Jones enter; he is having difficulty in getting any response from her and declares his love in a brilliant dance routine. Rose returns and is hustled by Mrs. Jones' son Vincent, who beats up Sam when he tries to protect Rose. Their ensuing scene together shows that she has only affection for Sam, while he is deeply in love with her.
Early next morning; the street is awakening and the kids play games on the way to school. Maurrant is leaving for New Haven, accuses his wife of wanting to know his time of return because she is expecting a visitor. Both Rose and she remonstrate with him, but he leaves, with dark threats. Mrs. Maurrant sees Willie off to school with a rare demonstration of affection and Sam makes a desperate plea to Rose to escape together, but she asks for time to consider.
The action is now speeded up almost cinematically: Sankey arrives and goes upstairs to Mrs. Maurrant; the City Marshal arrives to dispossess the Hildebrands; Maurrant reappears, slinks upstairs - and then there are two shots, a fall, Sankey appears at the window in terror and another shot rings out. Frank escapes in the confusion and Rose returns, only to see her mother being carried off in an ambulance, as the crowd share her grief.
That afternoon- The Hildebrands' furniture is still being removed. Two nursemaids revel in the evening paper's details of the murder. Rose, now in mourning, tells Sam that her mother died in hospital. Maurrant is caught and led on between two policemen; he begs for a chance to speak to Rose and pathetically tries to justify himself. Sam tries to persuade Rose to go away with him, but she insists that she can't belong to anyone and he must come to terms with himself. She leaves, to collect her little brother and rebuild their lives; two people arrive to take the Hildebrands' flat, the neighbours continue to grumble about the weather - and life on the New York street goes on.
- Ain't It Awful, The Heat? - Greta Fiorentino, Emma Jones, Olga and Carl Olsen, Abraham Kaplan
- I Got A Marble And A Star - Henry Davis
- Get A Load Of That - Emma Jones, Greta Fiorentino, Olga Olsen
- When A Woman Has A Baby - Daniel Buchanan, Greta Fiorentino, Emma Jones, Anna Maurrant
- She Shouldn't Be Staying Out Nights - Frank and Anna Maurrant, Greta Fiorentino
- Somehow I Never Could Believe - Anna Maurrant
- Whatcha Think Of That? - Emma and George Jones, Carl Olsen, Greta Fiorentino
- Ice Cream Sextet - Lippo and Greta Fiorentino, Carl and Olga Olsen, George Jones, Henry Davis
- Let Things Be Like They Always Was - Frank Maurrant
- Wrapped In A Ribbon And Tied In A Bow - Jennie Hildebrand, Ensemble
- Lonely House - Sam Kaplan
- Wouldn't You Like To Be On Broadway? - Harry Easter
- What Good Would The Moon Be? - Rose Maurrant
- Moon-faced, Starry-eyed - Dick McGann, Mae Jones
- Remember That I Care - Sam Kaplan, Rose Maurrant
- I Got A Marble And A Star (Reprise) - Henry Davis
- Catch Me If You Can - Charlie and Mary Hildebrand, Willie Maurrant, Grace Davis, Children
- There'll Be Trouble - Frank, Rose and Anna Maurrant
- A Boy Like You - Anna Maurrant
- We'll Go Away Together - Rose Maurrant, Sam Kaplan
- The Woman Who Lived Up There - Ensemble
- Lullaby - Nursemaid #1, Nursemaid #2
- I Loved Her, Too - Frank and Rose Maurrant, Ensemble
- Don't Forget The Lilac Bush - Sam Kaplan, Rose Maurrant
- Ain't It Awful, The Heat? (Reprise) - Greta Fiorentino, Emma Jones, Olga Olsen, Abraham Kaplan
- ABRAHAM KAPLAN - Elderly and quarrelsome, with a left-wing political bee in his bonnet. (Tenor buffo)
- GRETA FIORENTINO, EMMA JONES, OLGA OLSEN - Gossiping neighbours, with quick tongues and sharp eyes. (Coloratura soprano / Mezzo-soprano / Alto)
- LIPPO FIORENTINO, GEORGE JONES, CARL OLSEN - Their husbands, of whom only Lippo seems warm and happy-go-lucky. (Tenor / Baritone / Bass)
- SAM KAPLAN - A potential high flyer, but bookish and hopelessly in lovewith Rose. He is eager to escape the degrading slum inwhich he lives. (Tenor)
- SHIRLEY KAPLAN - His sister - devoted to and dependent on him, and scared that Rose's pretty face will take him away for good. (Speaking role)
- HENRY DAVIS - The even-tempered janitor. (Baritone)
- FRANK MAURRANT - Churlish and reactionary when sober, he is violent and eventually homicidal when drunk. (bass-baritone)
- ANNA MAURRANT - Endlessly long-suffering, she is so degraded by her life that even a snatched furtive affair with a nobody seems to offer some form of escape. (Dramatic soprano)
- ROSE MAURRANT - A bright, tender girl, matured by the trials of her family life. She has strength to make adult decisions rather than take the easy path. (Lyric soprano)
- DANIEL BUCHANAN - The typical anxious father-in-waiting. (Buffo tenor)
- STEVE SANKEY - The 'gentleman caller'. (Speaking role)
- JENNIE HILDEBRAND - The graduate girl of whom any family can be proud. (Soprano)
- DICK McGANN, MAE JONES - The only 'light relief' in the cast. (Singer & dancers)
- HARRY EASTER - A plausible but cheap 'office wolf'. (High baritone)
- VINCENT JONES - A womanising thug. (Speaking role)
Flute doub. Piccolo; Oboe; 2 Clarinets; 2nd doub. Bass Clarinet; Bassoon; 2 Horns; 2 Trumpets; 2 Trombones; Harp; Piano doub. Celesta; Timpani & Percussion; Strings
Street Scene: an American Opera
Original Broadway Cast (Artist)
Sony (Audio CD) - October 25, 1990
Street Scene [Original London Cast]
Original London Cast (Artist)
That's Entertainment (Audio CD) - April 29, 2003