Milk and Honey

A TAMS-WITMARK TITLE

Milk and Honey

Full-Length Musical, Dramatic Comedy  /  2f, 3m

Book by Don Appell / Music and Lyrics by Jerry Herman / Original Production by Gerald Oestreicher

Image: Sam Norkin

  • Cast Size
    Cast Size
    2f, 3m
  • Duration
    Duration
    More than 120 minutes (2 hours)
  • SubGenre
    Subgenre
    Period
  • Audience
    Target Audience
    Appropriate for all audiences
Accolades
Accolades
  • NOMINEE: Five 1962 Tony Awards, including Best Musical and Best Composer
Licence details
  • Licensing fees and rental materials quoted upon application.
Milk and Honey

Details

Summary
Milk and Honey, Jerry Herman’s first Broadway book musical, is a romantic comedy-drama set in Israel during the nation’s early days of independence. A group of American widows – led by the hilariously blunt and amiable Clara – tour the country by bus in hopes of landing a husband. Meanwhile, two lonely Americans named Ruth and Phil meet and begin a mid-life romance, hoping to overcome some obstacles to their happiness. Herman’s tuneful score includes “Shalom,” “There’s No Reason in the World,” and the rousing title song.
History
Milk and Honey opened on Broadway at the Martin Beck Theatre on October 10, 1961, starring Robert Weede, Mimi Benzell, Molly Picon and Tommy Rall. The show played for 543 performances, closing on January 26, 1963.

Cast Attributes
  • Expandable casting
Performing Groups
  • High School/Secondary
  • College Theatre / Student
  • Community Theatre
  • Church / Religious Groups

Act I

Early one morning in 1961, the streets of Jerusalem bustle with activity. As Yemenites, Arabs, Hassidim, street vendors, and young lovers begin their day, a young Yemenite boy attempts to guide his flock of sheep though the city street. A police officer orders the boy to move his flock to a side street (“Sheep Song”). Phil Arkin, an American visiting his daughter, defends the boy, and in the ensuing fracas he meets Ruth Stein, a tourist travelling with a group of widows from the United States. Phil impresses her with his command of Hebrew; Ruth confesses she only knows a single word ("Shalom").

Phil introduces Ruth to his daughter, Barbara, who has moved to Negev after marrying David, an Israeli farmer. Phil, Ruth, and Barbara spend a day sightseeing together, and even join the celebration of Israel’s Independence Day (“Independence Day Hora”). Phil is smitten with Ruth, but he privately tells Barbara he’s reluctant to pursue the relationship; he’s still married, and his estranged wife refuses to grant him a divorce. But Barbara likes Ruth, and asks Phil, “Why can’t two people spend a couple of weeks together without the world coming to an end?” She invites Ruth to join them at her farm, and Ruth, unaware of Phil’s marital status, accepts (“Shalom” Reprise).

At the farm, or moshav, David oversees a group of men and women clearing a field for transplanting. Ruth has settled into the moshav's collaborative culture, helping out by sewing bridal gowns for an upcoming wedding. Phil urges David and Barbara to move to Baltimore with him, but David loves Israel and could never leave. Against his cynical buddy Adi’s complaints, David sings the land’s praises (“Milk and Honey”). Phil, who has fallen for Ruth, asks her to stay another week (“There’s No Reason in the World”). Phil and David discuss some available land and Phil considers buying a house to share with Ruth.

Clara and the widows arrive in Negev. The ladies, ogling the shirtless Israeli men, soon discover they’re all married. Undaunted, Clara delivers a rousing pep talk (“Chin Up, Ladies”), assuring them that “somewhere over the rainbow, there’s a man!”

Phil tells Ruth about his plans for a house, and she approaches the idea with a fresh attitude (“That Was Yesterday”). Barbara is shocked to hear that her father has made such elaborate plans without telling Ruth he’s married. Barbara gets increasingly agitated, finally blurting out to David that she hates living in Israel.

Finally, Phil tells Ruth about his unhappy marriage; his wife, who lives in Paris, refuses to grant a divorce. Ruth is unsure, but Phil insists they make the most of the time they have (“Let’s Not Waste A Moment”). They attend a traditional wedding ceremony, and are inspired by the young lovers. As the newlyweds and guests celebrate, Phil and Ruth sneak off together (“The Wedding”).

Act II

The next morning, Phil enthusiastically works with the other farmers, feeling invigorated and youthful once again (“Like A Young Man”). His enthusiasm is dampened, though, when he learns that Ruth, unable to continue a relationship with a married man, has run off to Tel Aviv. Phil vows to follow her and win her back. David, realizing that Barbara would be happier in the United States, promises to leave his homeland to be with her (“I Will Follow You”). But as he works the land, imagining his corporate life in America, he grows distraught over his decision.

At the Café Hotok in Tel Aviv, Clara and the widows gawk at the city’s bustling life and clash of cultures (“Chin Up, Ladies” Reprise). Phil arrives, asking for Ruth. Clara, furious at Phil for his deception, tells him to return to the moshav; Ruth will come to him when she’s ready.

Phil exits, and a kind and wealthy widower named Sol Horowitz approaches Clara, asking her to dinner. He leaves her with his card (he’s in the diamond business!) so she asks her late husband for permission to marry again (“Hymn to Hymie”). That evening, after Clara’s successful date with Sol, she tells Ruth to end things with Phil. But Ruth loves Phil and can’t let go (“There’s No Reason In The World” Reprise).

At the moshav, everyone celebrates the birth of Adi’s son (“Milk and Honey” Reprise). Ruth arrives and Phil tells her he stopped working on the house; he knows they can’t continue together. But Ruth wants to remain with him (“As Simple As That”).

At the airport, Clara – now Mrs. Horowitz – bids farewell to the others; she and her new husband Sol plan to remain in Tel Aviv. Rather than throw a bouquet, Clara gives each of the widows a bouquet of her own, saying, “Darling… why take chances?” Phil and Ruth say good-bye for now; Phil intends to fly to Paris to secure a divorce once and for all. Ruth kisses him, mounts the ramp to her plane, and turns back for a final look as the entire company bids her “Shalom.”

Principals
(2 female; 3 male)

Phil Arkin
Ruth Stein
Mrs. Weiss
David
Adi

Supporting

Barbara
Zipporah
Mr. Horowitz

Widows:
Mrs. Weinstein
Mrs. Pearlman
Mrs. Segal
Mrs. Strauss
Mrs. Kessler
Mrs. Breslin

Others

Hotel Porter
Yemenite Boy
Policeman
Soldier
Bread Seller
Coppersmith
Fruit Vendor
Tourists
Guide
Girls
Boys
Men
Cantor
Lottery Man
Waiter
Arab
Announcer

  • Time Period 1960s
  • Setting
    Jerusalem and its environs. 1961.
  • Features Period Costumes
  • Duration More than 120 minutes (2 hours)

Media

Photos

  • Milk and Honey

    Image: Sam Norkin

Music

Music Samples

Act I

1. Overture – Orchestra
2. Opening – Orchestra
3. "Sheep Song" – Boy, Phil & Chorus
4. “Shalom” – Phil, Bread Seller, Coppersmith, Fruit Vendor, Tourist, Ruth, Mrs. Weiss, Mrs. Perlman & Guide
5. Independence Day Hora (Part I) – Chorus
6. Hora (Part II) – Chorus
7. Hora (Part III) – Chorus
8. Work Dance – Orchestra
9. “Milk And Honey” – Chorus & Adi
10. Milk And Honey Dance – Orchestra
11. Scene Change – Orchestra
12. “There’s No Reason In The World” – Phil
13. “Chin Up, Ladies” – Widows, Mrs. Segal, Mrs. Perlman & Mrs. Weiss
14. Scene Change – Orchestra
15. “That Was Yesterday” – Ruth, David, Adi, Phil & Chorus
16. Scene Change – Orchestra
17. “Let’s Not Waste A Moment”Phil
18. "The Wedding" – Cantor, Chorus, Ruth & Phil

Act II

19. Entr’acte – Orchestra
20. “Like A Young Man” – Phil & Men
21. Incidental: Like A Young Man – Orchestra
22. “I Will Follow You” – David
23. I Will Follow You (Dance) – Workers
24. Café Mob Scene – Mrs. Breslin, Mrs. Weinstein, Mrs. Segal & Mrs. Weiss
25. “Mr. Morowitz” – Mr. Morowitz
26. “Hymn To Hymie” – Mrs. Weiss
27. Reprise: “There’s No Reason In The World” – Ruth
28. Scene Change – Orchestra
29. Reprise: “Milk and Honey” – Adi & Ensemble
30. Adi’s Dance – Ensemble
31. “As Simple As That” – Phil & Ruth
32. Airport Scene – Orchestra
32a. Airport Scene Continued – Orchestra
33. Finale Act Two – Phi, Ruth & Widows
34. Exit Music – Orchestra

Full Orchestration

Violin A
Violin B
Viola
Cello
Bass

Reed 1: Flute & Piccolo
Reed 2: Flute & Clarinet (or Flute)
Reed 3: Oboe & English Horn
Reed 4: Eb Clarinet (or Clarinet) & Clarinet
Reed 5: Clarinet & Bass Clarinet

Horn 1 & 2
Trumpet 1 & 2
Trumpet 3
Trombone 1 (doubles Euphonium)
Trombone 2

Percussion 1 & 2:

Timpani (3 drums)
Snare Drum
Bass Drum
Timbales (3)
Tom Toms (3)
Suspended Cymbals
Hi-Hat Cymbals
Finger Cymbals
Tam Tam
Hand Bell (no pitch)
Chimes
Glockenspiel
Xylophone
Wood Block
Tambourine
Triangle
Cowbell
Temple Blocks

Harp

  • Musical StyleClassic Broadway
  • Dance RequirementsModerate
  • Vocal DemandsDifficult
  • Orchestra SizeLarge
  • Chorus SizeLarge

Materials

Music Rentals

Concord offers a full suite of resources to help you put on the show of a lifetime!
36 Libretto-Vocal Book
1 Piano-Conductor
1 Reed 1
1 Reed 2
1 Reed 3
1 Reed 4
1 Reed 5
2 Horn 1&2
2 Trumpet 1&2
1 Trumpet 3
1 Trombone 1
1 Trombone 2
2 Percussion 1&2
1 Harp
2 Violin A
1 Violin B
1 Viola
1 Cello
1 Bass
36 Libretto-Vocal Book
1 Piano-Conductor

Authors

Don Appell

DON APPELL was a playwright, director, and actor. Appell wrote the book for Milk And Honey (1961), a musical comedy about Americans in Israel. His work was praised by Howard Taubman in The New York Times for its “ring of authenticity” and “taste and imagination.” His other pl ...

View full profile

Jerry Herman

Hello, Dolly!, Mame, and La Cage Aux Folles are home to some of the most popular, most-often performed and most successful musical hero(in)es of all time, and have given Jerry Herman (1931-2019) the distinction of being the only composer/lyricist in history to have had three ...

View full profile

Community

Now Playing

Community Experiences