THE STUDENT PRINCE
Book & Lyrics by Dorothy Donnelly
Music by Sigmund Romberg
Based on the play Old Heidelberg by Rudolf Bleichman.
Jolson Theatre, Broadway - 2 December, 1924 (608 perfs)
His Majesty's Theatre, London - 3 February (96 perfs)
The Student Prince sings its way serenly down the years as the show that epitomises pure romance. The Prince, Karl Franz, is sent to University at Heidelberg to finish his studies. There, among fruit blossom and fellow students, he meets and falls deliriously in love with the daughter of the innkeeper, Kathie.
This is one of the shows that lasts, and will go on lasting, as long as there are voices to sing songs like "Gaudeamus"; "Deep In My Heart" or the well-loved "Drinking Song".
Prince Karl Franz is heir to the (fictitious) German kingdom of Karlsberg. He has grown up fatherless, under rather gloomy military conditions of castle life. He has been educated by tutors, in particular, kindly Doctor Engel, who has taught him the songs of his alma mater, the venerable University of Heidelberg. Karl Franz has been promised in marriage, since childhood, to the Princess Margaret (Johanna in some versions), but he has never met her. His grandfather, King Ferdinand, sends him to the University incognito, to live as an ordinary student, and improve his social skills. Karl Franz sets off under the watchful eye of Doctor Engel, accompanied by his snooty valet Lutz, who has his own assistant, Hubert.
At Heidelberg, Herr Ruder keeps the rustic Inn of Three Gold Apples. His beautiful niece Kathie waits tables in the inn's beer-garden. The inn is very popular with the students, who come there to drink and sing ("Drink! Drink! Drink!", "To the Inn We're Marching"). Karl Franz, the finicky Lutz and Hubert arrive for the spring term and take rooms at the Three Gold Apples, to the delight of Engel and the disgust of Lutz. He falls in love, almost at first sight, with Kathie, who returns his affection. But he is a royal heir, and she is a commoner.
Karl Franz also makes friends with three students, Detlef, Lucas and von Asterberg, and shares the camaraderie of student life, with nights of enthusiastic drinking and singing. He joins their student corps.
As the term passes, Karl Franz and his friends continue to enjoy student life. By the end of the term, Karl Franz and Kathie are deeply in love.
But then Karl Franz receives a surprise visit from Princess Margaret and her mother. They bring news that the king is ill and commands the prince to return home for the ceremony of betrothal to the princess. After they leave, Karl Franz and Kathie consider eloping to Paris. But Doctor Engel and Count Von Mark (the prime minister of Karlsberg) remind the prince of his duty to his kingdom. Karl Franz reluctantly agrees to obey the king's command. He promises Kathie that he will return soon. He takes leave of his friends, and the students salute the University.
Back in Karlsberg, two years pass, with Karl Franz unable to return to Heidelberg. His grandfather has died, and Karl Franz is now King. His life is bound up in court ceremony. Princess Margaret has also had a secret relationship with another man, Captain Tarnitz ("Just We Two"). But as King, Karl Franz must honor the betrothal to Margaret. Margaret knows that Karl Franz has long pined for an old love, and she has heard rumors that in Heidelberg, he fell in love with a tavernkeeper's niece.
Word arrives from Heidelberg that Doctor Engel has died there. Karl Franz is persuaded to visit Heidelberg for a brief reunion with his old friends, and he hopes to see Kathie again.
Princess Margaret goes to Heidelberg first, and secretly visits Kathie. Margaret persuades her that for the good of the kingdom, she must break off with Karl Franz. They agree that Kathie will tell Karl Franz she is in love with another man and is going to marry him. Karl Franz will then finally be free to accept Margaret, who has come to love him. Meanwhile, the students of Heidelberg continue their merry ways.
Karl Franz arrives, meets his old friends and visits Kathie. True to her promise, she tells him of her fictitious new love and plans to marry. Karl Franz resolves to marry Margaret without further delay, but Kathie will always be his true love.
- By Our Bearing So Sedate – Four Lackeys
- Golden Days – Prince Karl Franz and Dr. Engel; in the 1954 film, sung by the Prince
- Garlands Bright – Ruder, Gretchen, Flower Girls and Waitresses
- Drinking Song (Drink! Drink! Drink!) – Detlef and Students; in the 1954 film, Karl Franz and Students
- To the Inn We're Marching – Detlef, Von Asterberg, Lucas, Kathie and Students
- In Heidelberg Fair – Karl Franz and Dr. Engel
- Welcome to Prince – Kathie, Ruder, Gretchen and Girls
- Deep in My Heart, Dear – Karl Franz and Kathie
- Serenade (Overhead the Moon is Beaming) – Karl Franz, Detlef, Lucas, Von Asterberg and Students
- Come Sir, Will You Join Our Noble Saxon Corps – Karl Franz, Kathie, Detlef and Company
- Farmer Jacob (Lay-a-Snoring) – Detlef and Students
- Students' Life – Karl Franz, Kathie, Dr. Engel, Gretchen, Detlef, Lucas, Von Asterberg and Eight Students
- Farewell, Dear – Karl Franz and Kathie
- Thoughts Will Come Back to Me – Karl Franz, Kathie and Students
- Gaudeamus Igitur – Students
- Waltz Ensemble – Ambassadors, Officers, Countess Leyden, Baron Arnheim and Ladies of the Court
- Just We Two – Princess, Captain Tarnitz and Officers; in the 1954 film, Prince and Kathie
- Gavotte – Karl Franz, Princess, Captain Tarnitz, Ambassadors, Officers and Ladies of the Court
- What Memories – Karl Franz
- Sing a Little Song – Students and Girls
- To the Inn We're Marching (reprise) – Detlef, Von Asterberg and Students
- Serenade (Overhead the Moon is Beaming) (reprise) – Detlef and Students
- Come Boys, Let's All Be Gay Boys – Students, Detlef and Von Asterberg
- Deep in My Heart Dear (reprise) – Karl Franz, Princess, Kathie, Rudolph, Gretchen and Company
Male 9 - Female 4 plus chorus
- Prince Karl Franz
- Dr. Engel (the Prince's Tutor)
- Kathie (niece of Ruder)
- Ruder (Landlord of Inn of Three Gold Apples)
- Lutz (valet to the Prince)
- Princess Margaret (fiancee of Prince Karl Franz)
- Detlef (a student leader)
- Von Asterberg (another student leader)
- Lucas (another student leader)
- Captain Tarnitz
- Gretchen (a young worker at the tavern)
- Hubert (Lutz's valet)
- Countess Leyden (lady-in-waiting to the Princess)
- Toni (a waiter and wine steward)
- Count Von Mark (prime minister of Karlsberg)
- Grand Duchess Anastasia (Princess Margaret's mother)
- Baron Arnheim
- Captain of the Guard
Violin 1, 2 & 3; Viola; Cello; Bass; Flutes; Clarinet; Oboe; Horns; Trumpets; Trombones; Drums; Harp (optional)