Full Length Musical, Comedy  /  1f, 8m

Original Book and Lyrics by Alexandre Breffort / Music by Marguerite Monnot / English Book and Lyrics by Julian More, David Heneker and Monty Norman / Produced for the American Stage by David Merrick (by arrangement with Henry Hall)

This French romantic comedy pairs Irma, a young woman working the streets of Paris, with Nestor, a penniless law student who masquerades as a rich older man to earn Irma's attentions.
Irma La Douce
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  • Cast Size
    Cast Size
    1f, 8m
  • Duration
    More than 120 minutes (2 hours)
  • SubGenre
    Adaptations (Stage & Screen), Romantic Comedy
  • Audience
    Target Audience
    • Adult
    • Senior
    • Teen (Age 14 - 18)
  • WINNER! 1961 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical (Elizabeth Seal)
    NOMINEE: Seven 1961 Tony Awards, including Best Musical
Irma, the title character of the French musical Irma La Douce, is a young woman working the streets of Paris. Nestor le Fripé, a poor law student, falls for Irma and grows jealous of her clients. To remain Irma's only lover, Nestor assumes the disguise of a rich older man named Oscar, taking numerous jobs to support himself and Irma. Unable to sustain his exhausting life, Nestor ultimately “kills” Oscar. But the authorities, believing the murder actually took place, convict Nestor and send him to the Devil's Island penal colony. Nestor ultimately escapes and returns to Paris to prove his innocence and reunite with Irma.
Irma La Douce premiered in Paris at the Théâtre Gramont, November 12, 1956, where it ran for four years. It was then produced at London’s Lyric Theatre, opening July 17, 1958, and playing for 1,512 performances. The show opened on Broadway at the Plymouth Theatre on September 29, 1960, starring Keith Mitchell, Clive Revill, and Elizabeth Seal as the title character. The show later moved to the Alvin Theatre, playing a total of 524 performances.
Irma, one of Paris' most successful poules (prostitutes), falls in love with Nestor, a penniless law student. Nestor is jealous of Irma's customers, and decides he must become her only client. He disguises himself as Monsieur Oscar, a rich old fossil who asks only companionship, yet provides enough money to become Irma's exclusive patron.

Nestor soon becomes exhausted from his numerous jobs, studies, and lovemaking. Irma decides that Oscar is not getting his money's worth and seduces him more passionately than she ever has Nestor. This makes him more jealous than ever, and he decides that Oscar must die. Nestor stages the death of "Oscar," but is soon convicted of murder and sentenced to Devil's Island. When he learns Irma is expecting his child, he escapes on a raft and finally proves (by paying off the judge) that he and Oscar are one and the same. Oscar returns to Irma on Christmas Eve, just in time to witness the birth of their child.


Performing Groups
  • College Theatre / Student
  • Community Theatre
  • Professional Theatre
  • Blackbox / Second Stage /Fringe Groups
  • Mild Adult Themes

Licence details

  • Licensing fees and rental materials quoted upon application.



  • Time Period: 1960s, 1950s
  • Duration: More than 120 minutes (2 hours)
  • Setting: In Paris, on Devil's Island, and at sea. 1956.
  • Features / Contains: Period Costumes


1f, 8m
Cast Attributes
  • Expandable casting
  • Strong Role for Leading Man (Star Vehicle)
  • Strong Role for Leading Woman (Star Vehicle)

(1 female; 9 male)

Irma La Douce – a Poule

Nestor Le Fripe – a law student
Bob Le Hotu – proprietor of the Bar des Inquiets
Police Inspector
A Tax Inspector

The Mecs:

  • Polyte Le Mou
  • Jojo Les Yeux Sales
  • Roberto Les Diams
  • Frangipane
  • Persil


M. Bougne – a ballroom owner
Counsel for the Prosecution
Counsel for the Defense
An Usher
An Honest Man


3 Warders
A Priest
8 Bar Loungers
2 False Mecs


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

Act I

1. Overture – Orchestra
2. “Valse Milieu” – Bob & Irma
3. “Noble Sons of France” – Bob, Inspector & Mecs
3a. Irma’s Entrance – Orchestra
3b. "Noble Son’s" Tag – Mecs
4. “Bridge of Coulaincourt” – Irma & Nestor
5. “Our Language of Love” – Irma & Nestor
6. First Entrance: She’s Got The Lot – Orchestra
7. “She’s Got The Lot” – Inspector & Admirers
8. Reprise: “Language of Love” – Irma
9. Melos – Got The Lot – Orchestra
10. Dis Donc: Incidental – Orchestra
11. Reprise: “Language of Love” – Irma
12. “Dis Donc” – Irma & Men
12a. Dis Donc Dance – Irma, Nestor & Men
13. “Le Grisbi Is Le Root Of Le Evil In Man” – Bob, Nestor & Mecs
14. Incidental Music – Orchestra
15. Scene Change – Orchestra
16. Effect – Orchestra
17. Crosses – Orchestra
17a. Crosses – Orchestra
17b. Crosses – Orchestra
17c. Crosses – Orchestra
18. “Wreck of a Mec” – Nestor
19. “That’s A Crime” – Bob, Nestor & Mecs
20. Incidental Music – Orchestra
21. Fight Scene – Orchestra

Act II

22. Act II Overture – Orchestra
23. Reprise: “Bridge of Coulaincourt” – Irma & Nestor
24. “Prison Cell” – Nestor & Men
25. Melos: She’s Got the Lot – Orchestra
26. “Irma La Douce Routine” – Irma & Men
27. “The Letter” – Irma
28. Prison Cell Routine – Orchestra
29. “There Is Only One Paris For That” – Nestor, Mecs & Prisoners
30. “Freedom Of The Seas” – Nestor & Mecs
30a. Arctic Ballet – Orchestra
30b. Reprise: “Paris” – Nestor & Mecs
30c. Second Reprise: “Paris” – Nestor & Mecs
31. Reprise: “Language of Love” – Irma
32. “But” – Nestor, Tax Inspector, Police Inspector & Men
33. Underscore – Orchestra
34. Finale: “The Christmas Child” – Full Company
35. Curtain Calls – Orchestra
36. Exit Music – Orchestra

Full Orchestration

Reed 1: Flute & Piccolo
Reed 2: Clarinet & Baritone Sax
Trombone I
Trombone II
Timpani (2 Drums)
Snare Drum (Brushes & Sticks)
Bass Drum
Bongo Drums
Tom Toms (2 pitches)
Suspended Cymbal
Hi-Hat Cymbal
Tambourine (small)
Wood Block



Rehearsal Resources

Music Material Rental Packages Glyphs / UI / Tooltip

Full Package:
1 Piano/Conductor Score
35 Libretto/Vocal Books
1 Reed 1
1 Reed 2
1 Trombone 1
1 Trombone 2
1 Percussion
1 Guitar & Banjo
1 Accordion
1 Bass

Piano Only:
1 Piano/Conductor
35 Libretto/Vocal book


Music Samples



Alexander Breffort

ALEXANDRE BREFFORT was born in Nièvre, France in 1901. After working a series of odd-jobs, Breffort was hired as the editor at Le Canard Enchaîné (The Chained Duck) in 1934. A pacifist, Breffort traveled throughout Europe during World War II before returning to Paris. Breffort wrote the screenpla ...

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Marguerite Monnot

MARGUERITE MONNOT was a French songwriter and composer, best known for having written many of the songs performed by Édith Piaf (“Milord,” “Hymne à l'amour”) and for the music in the stage musical Irma La Douce. As a female composer of popular music in the first half of the twen ...

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Julian More

JULIAN MORE made his theatrical debut in 1954 while attending Trinity College in Puss in Red Riding Breeches, a pantomime for adults. After moving to London, More wrote the book and lyrics for three of the biggest musical comedy successes of the 1950s – Grab Me a Gondola, Expresso Bongo and Irma La Douce. He l ...

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David Heneker

Monty Norman

MONTY NORMAN was born in London in 1928, the only child of Jewish immigrants from Latvia. From an early age, Norman showed an interest in music; he wrote songs, performed and appeared in radio, television and stage variety shows. Compositions for the West End theatres include Expresso Bongo and Irma La Douce in coll ...

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