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I Can Get It For You Wholesale

Jerome Weidman, Harold Rome

Full Length Musical, Dramatic Comedy  /  5f, 4m

Book by Jerome Weidman, based on his novel / Music and Lyrics by Harold Rome / Original production presented by David Merrick

Based on Jerome Weidman’s bestselling novel, I Can Get It For You Wholesale is the story of an ambitious young businessman artfully clawing his way to the top of the garment industry in 1930s New York.
I Can Get It For You Wholesale
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OVERVIEW

  • Cast Size
    Cast Size
    5f, 4m
  • Duration
    Duration
    More than 120 minutes (2 hours)
  • SubGenre
    Subgenre
    Adaptations (Literature), Period
  • Audience
    Target Audience
    • Appropriate for all audiences
Accolades
Accolades
  • NOMINEE: 1962 Tony Award for Best Supporting Actress (Barbra Streisand)
Description
Based on Jerome Weidman’s bestselling novel, I Can Get It For You Wholesale is the story of an ambitious young businessman artfully clawing his way to the top of the garment industry in 1930s New York. With humor and frankness, the show explores the perils of ambition and the price of success. Contrasting the swinging, jazzy rhythms of big city business with the earthy, traditional sounds of the characters’ Eastern European origins, I Can Get It For You Wholesale captures the energy and promise of a pivotal time in Jewish American history.
History
I Can Get It For You Wholesale opened on Broadway at the Shubert Theatre on March 22, 1962, starring Elliott Gould, Lilian Roth and Marilyn Cooper. The show transferred to the Broadway Theatre and ran for a total of 300 performances. Barbra Streisand, who made her Broadway debut as Miss Marmelstein, earned a Tony nomination for Best Featured Actress in a Musical.

Act I

After a rousing overture, the curtain opens on a picket line and demonstration in New York City’s Garment District in 1937. Fashion Avenue’s delivery boys and shipping clerks forcefully demand $15 per week, but the police arrive, disbanding the protestors.

In the office of dress manufacturer Maurice Pulvermacher, harried secretary Miss Marmelstein juggles disgruntled clients, upset about the strike. Mr. Pulvermacher is overwhelmed (“I’m Not A Well Man”). Harry Bogen, a brash young shipping clerk, barges into the office and proposes a solution: Pulvermacher can ignore the strikers and instead hire Harry’s new company, The Needle Trades Delivery Service. Pulvermacher begrudgingly signs the contract.

In the street, Harry’s friend Tootsie reminds him that the Needle Trades Delivery Service doesn’t even exist yet. Tootsie contributes $500 to start up the company, and Harry says he knows where to get more funds. Bluntly, Harry shares his cynical philosophy: the only thing that counts in this world is money (“The Way Things Are”).

Harry returns to the Bronx to meet up with his old friend, Ruthie Rivkin. Ruthie is clearly still smitten with him (“When Gemini Meets Capricorn”) and she agrees to invest in his company. In his mother’s homey kitchen, Harry shares the good news and presents his mother with a new hat. Mrs. Bogen is shocked and delighted by the gift and her son’s sudden success. As time passes, Harry continues advancing professionally, and his gifts grow more and more lavish (“Momma, Momma, Momma”). Finally, Harry asks his mother to cook up a lavish dinner; he plans to start a dress business, and he wants to impress his potential partners with a home-cooked meal.

At the Club Rio Rhumba, Harry interrupts his date with actress Martha Mills to conspicuously sell his half of the Needle Trades business to his partner, Tootsie. When Tootsie leaves, Harry admits he’s made a killing; the business will soon be worthless. Martha, admiring Harry’s ruthless ambition, recognizes an opportunity (“The Sound of Money”).

At Harry’s home-style dinner, Mrs. Bogen’s cooking charms all the guests: gifted salesman Teddy Asch, top dress designer Meyer Bushkin and his wife Blanche, Harry, and the unassuming, faithful Ruth, whom Harry has invited support his image as a stable family man. Using Yiddish terms of endearment, Mrs. Bogen introduces everyone, and they celebrate with a traditional kazatske, or dance (“The Family Way”). Teddy and Meyer commit to the new partnership, dubbed Apex Modes, Inc., and the guests say good night. Ruthie stays to help Mrs. Bogen clean up, and she says she’s certain that Harry will propose to her now. Mrs. Bogen, wise to her son’s charm and ambition, warns Ruthie not to count on him (“Too Soon”).

After spending a pleasant evening with Harry, Ruthie hints at marriage (“Who Knows?”) and offers to invest ten thousand dollars in Harry’s new business. Harry refuses her offer and tells her, “What you’re entitled to get for your ten, I can’t give.”

Weeks later, the Apex Modes office is abuzz. Miss Marmelstein – who has left Pulvermacher to work for Harry – assists the staff as they prepare for the company’s first show for wholesale buyers. Harry oversees the models and instructs Miss Marmelstein to cut check for client gift and other expenses, including a diamond bracelet. Mrs. Bogen and Ruthie arrive, and Harry gives them a tour. Teddy Asch is appalled and angered by Harry’s extravagance, but Harry assures Teddy and Meyer that soon they’ll all be rich.

Meyer, who has been designing and building dresses for weeks, feels exhausted and overwhelmed, but his loyal wife Blanche reinvigorates him with a simple affirmation of her love (“Have I Told You Lately?”). Blanche and Ruthie join the staff as they all prepare for the big show (“The Ballad of the Garment Trade”). Teddy serves as emcee while the models – including Harry’s showgirl, Martha – walk the runway in an elegant fashion show. After the show, everyone waits behind the scenes, nervously awaiting the results. Teddy enters with a fistful of orders – they are a hit! As everyone celebrates, Harry gives Martha a diamond bracelet, and she gives him her apartment key. “Two years ago, you were just another poor slob from the Bronx,” Harry tells himself. “And tonight, you’re gonna sleep with an actress!”

Act II

In his luxurious new penthouse apartment, Harry hosts the bar mitzvah of Blanche and Meyer Bushkin’s son, Sheldon. Harry presents the boy with a gift: a check for one year of college tuition (“A Gift Today”). As the others celebrate, Teddy pulls Harry and Meyer aside: Harry’s check was drawn on the company account. Harry tears up the check, blaming Miss Marmelstein for a clerical error. When Harry steps away, Meyer insists that they all trust each other. “You do the trusting,” say Teddy. “I’ll do the looking.”

At the office, business is brisk, and all the pressure seems to rest on the shoulders of beleaguered “Miss Marmelstein.” Teddy enters, enraged. With cancelled checks in hand, he angrily confronts Harry about his unethical spending from the company account. When amiable Meyer refuses to condemn Harry, Teddy quits the firm. Seeking a way to siphon off funds, Harry convinces the gullible Meyer to open a second bank account in his name. Meyer, naïvely trusting his friend, concedes.

Things begin to close in. Miss Marmelstein warns Meyer that their accounts are in bad shape. Ruthie warns Harry that his creditors have hired the lawyer she now works for. She also tells him her boss has proposed to her (“A Funny Thing Happened”), but Harry is unmoved. At the Club Rio Rhumba, Martha tells Teddy that her recent checks from Harry have bounced. Teddy, however, has made a bundle by selling his share of the company, so Martha resets her sites on a new man (“What’s In It For Me?”).

Things are beginning to fall apart at Apex Modes, and Miss Marmelstein desperately tries to maintain order. Teddy arrives and offers to buy out the stock at 15% of its value. Miss Marmelstein refuses, but she can’t forestall the inevitable: bankruptcy (“What Are They Doing To Us Now?”).

At his mother’s house, Harry claims innocence as his partner Meyer faces jail time. Taking responsibility for her own part in this mess, and ignoring Harry’s excuses, Mrs. Bogen slyly manipulates Harry into doing the right thing (“Eat A Little Something”).

Miss Marmelstein has returned to her former position at Pulvermacher’s office, and she tends to him as he laments his sorry health. Harry enters, seeking money to bail out Meyer. Pulvermacher agrees to lend Harry the money, provided Harry takes over his company. Soon after, on the street, Ruthie and Harry reconcile. Harry says he knows a place where they can get a great meal—his mother’s house. Tentatively, they set off together as the curtain descends.

Considerations

Performing Groups
  • High School/Secondary
  • College Theatre / Student
  • Community Theatre
  • Professional Theatre
  • Blackbox / Second Stage /Fringe Groups
  • Church / Religious Groups
Cautions
  • Mild Adult Themes

Licence details

  • Licensing fees and rental materials quoted upon application.

Specifics

Details

  • Time Period: 1930s
  • Duration: More than 120 minutes (2 hours)
  • Setting: New York's garment district and the Bronx. 1937.
  • Features / Contains: Period Costumes

Casting

5f, 4m
Cast Attributes
  • Expandable casting
  • Strong Role for Leading Man (Star Vehicle)
Principals
(5 female; 4 male)

Ruthie Rivkin
Mrs. Bogen
Miss Marmelstein
Martha
Blanche Bushkin

Harry Bogen
Maurice Pulvermacher
Teddy Asch
Meyer Bushkin

Supporting

Tootsie
Mario
Mitzi
Eddie
Buggo
Delivery Boy
Trimmer
Presser
Gail
Manette
Western Union Boy
Sheldon Bushkin
Sam

Music

  • Musical Style: Classic Broadway
  • Dance Requirements: Easy
  • Vocal Demands: Difficult
  • Orchestra Size: Large
  • Chorus Size: Medium

Act I

1. Overture – Orchestra
2. Prologue – Orchestra
3. “I’m Not A Well Man” – Marmelstein & Pulvermacher
3a. “I’m Not A Well Man” (Part 2) – Pulvermacher
4. Scene Change – Orchestra
5. “The Way Things Are” – Harry
6. Opening Scene 4: Who Knows – Orchestra
7. “When Gemini Meets Capricorn” – Harry & Ruth
8. Scene Change: Momma, Momma! – Orchestra
9. “Momma, Momma!” – Harry & Mrs. Bogen
10. Scene Change – Orchestra
11. “The Sound Of Money” – Harry & Martha & Dancers
12. Scene Change: Momma, Momma! – Orchestra
13. “The Family Way” – Mrs. Bogen, Ruth, Blanche, Harry, Teddy, & Meyer
14. “Too Soon” – Mrs. Bogen
15. Scene Change/Opening Scene 8 – Orchestra
16. “Have I Told You Lately?” – Blanche & Myer
17. “Ballad of the Garment Trade” – Entire Company
18. Finale Act I: Fashion Show – Orchestra

Act II

19. Entr’acte – Orchestra
20. Opening Act II – Orchestra
21. “A Gift Today” – Harry Meyer, Ruth, Mrs. Bogen & Chorus
22. Bar Mitzvah Dance – Orchestra
23. “Miss Marmelstein” – Marmelstein & Chorus
24. Reprise: “The Sound of Money” – Harry
25. Scene Change: Opening Scene 4 – Orchestra
26. “What’s In It For Me?” – Martha & Teddy
27. Scene Change: Opening Scene 5 – Orchestra
28. “What Are They Doing Now?” – Marmelstein & Chorus
29. Opening Scene 6 – Orchestra
30. “Eat A Little Something” – Mrs. Bogen (& Harry)
31. Finale Act II – Orchestra
32. Curtain Calls – Orchestra
33. Exit Music – Orchestra

Full Orchestration

Violin A
Violin B
Cello
Bass

Reed 1: Piccolo, Flute, clarinet & Alto Saxophone
Reed 2: Flute, Clarinet & Alto Saxophone
Reed 3: Oboe, English Horn, Clarinet, & Tenor Saxophone
Reed 4: Flute, clarinet, Bass Clarinet & Tenor Saxophone
Reed 5: Clarinet, Bassoon & Baritone Saxophone

Horn
Trumpet 1 & 2
Trumpet 3
Trombone 1
Trombone 2

Percussion 1 & 2

Piano

Materials

Scripts

Rehearsal Resources

Music Material Rental Packages Glyphs / UI / Tooltip

Full Package:
11 Piano/Conductor Score
24 Libretto
1 Reed 1
1 Reed 2
1 Reed 3
1 Reed 4
1 Reed 5
1 Horn
2 Trumpet 1&2
1 Trumpet 3
1 Trombone 1
1 Trombone 2
2 Percussion 1& 2
1 Piano (also Piano/Conductor)
2 Violin A
1 Violin B
2 Cello
1 Bass

Piano Only:
11 Piano/Conductor
24 Libretto

Media

Music Samples

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Authors

Author

Jerome Weidman

Author

Harold Rome

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