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wotvoanbMusical in 2 acts:  Book: Jeffrey Lane; Lyrics: David Yazbek; Music: David Yazbek; Orchestration: James Abbott, Simon Hale, David Yazbek; based on the 1988 film Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown written and directed by Pedro Almodóvar.


Belasco Theatre, Broadway - Previews 8th October, 2010 Opened 4th November, 2010: closed 2nd January, 2011
30 previews, 69 perfs.
Playhouse Theatre, London 12 January, 2015 (20 week season)


The musical tells the tale of a group of women in late 20th-century Madrid whose relationships with men lead to a tumultuous 48 hours of love, confusion and passion.

Act I

Spain, 1987. In an answering machine, a lover's voice in the night asks – "Pepa? Pepa, are you there? Is there any good way to say goodbye..." A woman startles awake and rushes to the phone, "Ivan? Ivan?" She's too late, he's gone.

As day breaks, the city and its inhabitants come to life, as the ubiquitous and philosophical Mambo Taxi Driver sings of a place and time of joy and passion, a world where an entire life can be rewritten in one day ("Madrid"). Pepa, a working actress and singer, arrives at a film recording studio, where she is scheduled to dub a duet with Ivan. Still reeling from his message and hoping to get some answers, she is disappointed to learn he has already laid down his vocal tracks and gone. As she sings to his recorded voice, we hear her thoughts, the conversation she would have with Ivan if only he were there ("Lie To Me"), and she faints from the emotion of the song. A doctor is called, and Pepa admits she has been experiencing some morning sickness for the past few weeks. The doctor insists on running some tests just to be sure. Pepa protests. There's only one thing that's wrong with her, and it's an ailment that seems to be affecting every woman in town ("Lovesick"). Pepa sets off to find Ivan at his apartment and learns that he hasn't slept there in weeks. She leaves a card to let him know she was there, but it is quickly snatched away by a mysterious woman. Aided by Mambo Taxi Driver, she pursues her through the streets.

The woman is Lucia Beltran, Ivan's ex-wife, who is suing him for his desertion of her twenty years before and her resulting time in a mental facility. Back in her apartment, Lucia goes through a trunk full of memories - letters, clothes, and an old record ("Time Stood Still") which take her back to a happier time full of hope. Lucia is brought back to the present by the appearance by her shy, stammering son Carlos, and his unhappy, frustrated fiancee Marisa. They inform Lucia they will begin looking for apartments tomorrow in anticipation of their upcoming wedding. Furious at being abandoned once again, Lucia throws Carlos' suitcases out into the night. As Carlos and Marisa gather their thing from the street below, they question their relationship and their future together ("My Crazy Heart"). The next morning, Pepa returns home to an answering machine full of messages from her best friend, the fashion model and eternal romantic Candela, who has finally found the perfect man, expect for one small hitch - he just may be an international terrorist ("Model Behavior"). Pepa wanders her penthouse apartment and remembers the life she shared there with Ivan ("Island"). Meanwhile, back in his old studio, Ivan is packing to leave town, when he receives a visit from Carlos. Torn between his mother and his fiancee, the young man receives a lesson from his golden-voiced father about how to communicate with women ("The Microphone"). Pepa is about to reach the end of her rope.

She prepares a batch of gazpacho laced with sedatives in anticipation of Ivan's return. She is interrupted by the arrival of Candela, seeking refuge from both the terrorists and the police, and by Carlos and Marisa, who through a series of mix-ups have found Pepa's address on their list of apartments for rent. As their disparate lives and stories begin to come together, the women are all starting to come apart. Pepa learns that Ivan is leaving town with another woman. Marisa realizes her future with Carlos is about to slip away. Candela, trapped, terrified (and, unable to get Pepa's attention in any other way) jumps out the penthouse terrace. Just as it seems things can't get any more complicated, the Doctor announces Pepa's test results - she's pregnant ("On The Verge").

Act II

Sometime during the intermission, Candela has changed her mind; she can't go through with it. Pepa and Carlos pull her back to safety. Shaken and upset, Candela tells them of her tormented infatuation with the wild and romantic Malik. (As soon as she saw the grenade belt, she "knew something was up".) Now the police are searching for him and she is afraid she'll be arrested for harboring the fugitive. Carlos suggests they talk to his mother's attorney, Paulina Morales. Marisa, noticing Carlos' attraction to the beautiful and fragile Candela, retreats to the kitchen, where she unknowingly drinks the sedative-laced gazpacho and passes out, as Pepa heads off to get the attorney's help. Outside her building, Pepa has a moment alone, as she considers the news of her pregnancy through memories of her own mother. ("Mother's Day") She is joined by her pious Concierge, who senses Pepa's troubles and tries to reassure her that things have a way of working out – "Sometimes you think you're praying for one thing, but God knows better". As she heads toward the lawyer's office, Pepa is unaware the woman Ivan is involved with is the same woman she is about to meet, Paulina Morales. Although Paulina tries to resist Ivan's pleas to go away with him, he eventually seduces her with his philosophy of eternal love. ("Yesterday, Tomorrow, And Today") Pepa arrives to see Paulina and is confused by the attorney's hostile reception and refusal to help Candela. Meanwhile back at the apartment, Carlos and Candela find themselves growing closer.

They discover a note outlining Malik's plans for an attack on the main courthouse and anonymously call the police to warn them, as the various characters all try to sort out the mess of their intertwining lives. ("Tangled") At the courthouse, Lucia is heard presenting her petition against Ivan to the Magistrates. She demands that her story must be heard. ("Invisible") As she becomes more unraveled, her case is dismissed, and she realizes she has been left with only one solution - she must find a way to make Ivan disappear for good. Pepa returns home and informs Candela that their only safe recourse is to leave town for a while. Besides, there is nothing more for her here. ("Island" (reprise)) Just as she and Candela are about to go, the police arrive, having traced the anonymous phone tip to Pepa's number. Lucia arrives as well in search of Ivan and demanding to know where he is. Pepa puts the pieces together and realizes he is at the courthouse, about to run off with Paulina. She tries to go after them, but is stopped by the two officers. Pepa concedes and graciously offers them each a glass of the sedative-laced gazpacho. They pass out, and before Pepa can stop her, Lucia grabs the police officers' guns and heads off to the courthouse to kill Ivan. A chase ensues, with Pepa arriving just in time to warn Ivan and save him from Lucia's gunshot. (The bullet providentially wounded Malik, turning Lucia into a national heroine.)

Ivan thanks Pepa and realizes how much he really cares for her. All he wants is for the two of them to go home and pretend this day never happened. ("Lie To Me" (reprise)) Pepa does want that, but recalls her Concierge's words from earlier. She kisses Ivan goodbye and exits. Pepa returns home and is greeted by her Concierge, who tells Pepa she has been praying for her all day. Pepa smiles; she thinks it may have worked. She heads upstairs to begin her new life, as the women gather together and joyfully look toward the future ("Shoes From Heaven").
Musical Numbers

Musical Numbers

  1. Overture
  2. Madrid – Taxi Driver and Ensemble
  3. Lie to Me – Pepa and Ivan
  4. Lovesick – Pepa and Ensemble
  5. Time Stood Still – Lucia
  6. My Crazy Heart – Taxi Driver, Carlos, Marisa and Ensemble
  7. Model Behavior – Candela
  8. Island – Pepa
  9. The Microphone – Ivan and Carlos
  10. On the Verge – Lucia, Pepa, Candela, Marisa and the Women
  11. Mother's Day – Pepa
  12. Yesterday, Tomorrow, and Today – Ivan
  13. Tangled – Taxi Driver, Carlos, Candela, Ivan, Pepa, Paulina, Ana and Ambite
  14. Invisible – Lucia
  15. Island (Reprise) – Pepa, Candela and Carlos
  16. Marisa / The Chase – Marisa and Ensemble
  17. Lie to Me (Reprise) – Ivan
  18. Shoes from Heaven – Pepa's Concierge, Pepa and Women