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Henry, Sweet Henry

Cover to Original Broadway Cast Album

Music & Lyrics by Bob Merrill : Book by Nunnally Johnson : Based on the novel "The World of Henry Orient" by Nora Johnson

Palace Theatre, Broadway - 23 October, 1967 (80 perfs)


Valerie Boyd is a love-starved daughter of a successful industrialist father and a social star mother. Val can have everything that money can buy, but that's all. Schoolmate Gil understands, and the two girls meet regularly at Central Park for various teen-age pranks. One day they spot avant-garde composer and aging philanderer Henry Orient. He is once again trying to seduce Stella, a husband-fearing romantic from Scarsdale. Val and Gil pester the couple until Stella runs off, leaving behind a frustrated Henry. They attend one of Henry's concerts where the age of man is musicalised by playing on human bodies instead of instruments. Later the girls decide that Henry is as hapless as they are. He shall be their hero. Val is excited by such creativity. She has found an idol to whom she can at least offer devotion. Val gets Gil to agree to a secret study of Henry's private and public life.

During this time, Henry has managed to persuade Stella to a super-security rendezvous at his apartment. Meanwhile, Kafritz, an arrange-anything-for-a-price schoolmate, has sold Val and Gil as dates to two Knickerbocker Greys, students at a nearby boys' military school. But the girls have discovered Henry's address and are off to pursue their study. To protect their investment, the boys and Kafritz are in hot pursuit. Kafritz gets there first and tries to blackmail the girls. In jest they tell Kafritz that Val is a junkie in need of a fix. Annoyed by the girl's hostility, Kafritz tips the police that Henry runs a drug ring near the school.

Inside, Henry is making headway for the first time in months. Outside, a good portion of New York City is descending on his unsuspecting doorstep. At that given signal the whistles and sirens go off; the crowds go wild, the police charge the believed drug ring hideout with guns drawn as Val and Gil are cheering their idol. Stella goes into shock. The cops shoot off all five locks and still manage to catch Henry in flagrante. The drug matter is straightened out, but Val has run away. Her mother decides to investigate this Henry Orient. When she does, the skillful Henry recognises a new prey. Gil and Val arrive at Henry's apartment just as Val's mother is seen kissing Henry goodbye. Val is shattered and returns home to her father, who comforts her. Val discovers that she isn't the only love-starved person around the house. But there is new hope. The Knickerbocker Grey boys arrive for the forgotten Happening date. Gil persuades Val to come along for something real instead of a dream.

Musical Numbers:

Academic Fugue
In Some Little World
Pillar to Post
Here I Am
I Wonder How It Is to Dance with a Boy
Nobody Steps on Kafritz
Henry, Sweet Henry
Woman in Love
The People Watchers
Weary Near to Dyin'
Poor Little Person
I'm Blue Too
To Be Artistic
Do You Ever Go to Boston?


Violins, viola, cello I, II, III, bass, reeds I-V, horns I-II, trumpet I, II, III, trombone I, II, III, guitar, harp, percussion I, II, piano-conductor.


16 parts, 6 principals.

Scenes and sets:

2 acts, 5 scenes, 8 full stage sets, 6 partial stage sets.



Period and Costumes

The present:

well-worn mink coat, girls' school uniforms, boys' military school uniforms, dresses, trench coats, suits, pajamas, disguises, hippie mod costume clothes, evening dresses, black dinner jackets, black gowns, black choir robes, white shorts, coolie hats, dressing robes, uniforms for policemen, policewoman, and usherette.


Modern, ballroom, "People Watchers" production number, waltz.

Lighting and special effects:

Dramatic lighting helpful, but not essential. Shooting locks off door.