Carroll Todd ("Toddy" to his friends) is tenuously employed as the resident performer at Henri Labisse's Left Bank gay club, Chez Lui. Toddy and Les Boys entertain the small but appreciative audience ("Paris By Night"). Toddy insults a group of customers, which includes his ex-boyfriend Richard. Labisse threatens to fire him. A penniless English soprano, Victoria Grant, auditions unsuccessfully for Labisse. Toddy tries to help, but Labisse rejects her and fires him. Toddy befriends Victoria, and offers her shelter from the wet wintry night in his tiny apartment. They become instant buddies and confidantes. Toddy wishes he were a woman, like Victoria, while Victoria believes that there are far more advantages to being a man ("If I Were A Man").
Richard, the ex-boyfriend, arrives at Toddy's unexpectedly to collect his things. Victoria is by now wearing his hat and pajamas. Richard mistakenly thinks she is Toddy's new boyfriend and insults Toddy. Victoria punches Richard and kicks him out. Toddy is impressed. Richard actually thought Victoria was a man! And at that moment The Inspired Idea strikes Toddy right between the eyes. Why not? Victoria could indeed be a man - Europe's greatest female impersonator! Victoria says he's crazy. Toddy pursues his argument, and dreams up Count Victor Grazinsky - a gay Polish aristocrat and Toddy's new lover ("Trust Me"). "It will work," he assures Victoria. "It will not!" says Victoria. They'll never accept a woman pretending to be a man pretending to be a woman! - "They'll know he's a phony!" "Exactly," says Toddy. "They'll know he's a phony!"
Toddy drags the reluctant Victoria to meet Andre Cassell, Paris's leading impresario, who is dubious about "Count Victor Grazinsky" until he hears "him" hit a glass-shattering high G-flat. "Victor" is in business.
"Le Jazz Hot!" introduces Victor to Paris café society. His show-stopping performance at once makes him the toast of Gay Paree. The only doubter of Victor's authenticity is a dashing American business-man - cum gangster figure, King Marchan, visiting Paris with his brassy girlfriend Norma and his loyal bodyguard Squash. King is convinced Victor is a woman, and determined to prove it. At Cassell's opening night party for Victor, King invites Victor to tango with Norma, hoping to prove his point (The "Paris By Night" Tango). Victor's tango is a sensation. Norma is thrilled. King is thwarted, and starts to doubt himself. He finds Victor attractive as a woman...but what if he's a man?
By an unwelcome coincidence, King and Norma and Squash find themselves in the adjoining hotel suite to the newly successful Toddy and Victor. Norma tries to seduce King ("Paris Makes Me Horny"). She succeeds only in making him impotent. Next door, Victoria bemoans to Toddy that in King she thinks she has finally found the man of her dreams, but here she is trying to convince him that she is a man, too! ("Crazy World").
Victor continues to take Paris audiences by storm ("Louis Says"). Norma complains to Victor and Toddy that King is shipping her back to Chicago because he fancies Victor - a man! King confronts his doubts about himself and Victor ("King's Dilemma"). Is it possible that he, King, is falling for a man? He invites Victor and Toddy to dinner to try and find out. After dinner they visit Chez Lui, where Labisse also has his suspicions that Victor is a woman. He invites her/him to sing. Victor and Toddy oblige ("You and Me"). Richard's group arrives noisily in mid-song. Victor trips Richard and starts a major brawl in the club. The police arrive to break it up. Outside the club, King says he doesn't care if Victor is a man, and kisses him. Victoria admits she's not a man. King says he still doesn't care, and kisses her again (Reprise: "Paris By Night").
Back in the hotel, Squash barges into King's bedroom and finds King and Victor in bed together: He apologizes profusely: "Sorry, guys!" King tries to explain. Squash admires King for coming out of the closet, and stuns his boss by revealing that he, too, is gay! Victor and King examine their potential problems if they are perceived publicly as two men. It won't work ("Almost a Love Song").
Back in Chicago, Norma is performing in a night club ("Chicago, Illinois"). She informs King's gangster partner, Sal Andretti, that King has dumped her for another man - and is living with "a gay Polish fairy." Sal is aghast, and says they're all going to Europe. Two weeks later, Toddy and Squash have become happy partners. Not so for King and Victoria, unable to be seen together in public ("Living in the Shadows"). Victoria tells Toddy she doesn't want to be a man anymore. Toddy understands. Neither does he.
Sal and the spurned Norma arrive in Paris. King admits he loves "Victor," keeping the secret. Sal, disgusted, ends their business relationship. Victoria reveals herself to Norma as a woman. Norma is horrified. Labisse witnesses this moment of naked truth. Victoria is horrified. Toddy tells her not to worry. "Trust me!" Dissolve to Victor's farewell appearance ("Victor/Victoria"). Labisse tries to expose him/her as a fraud. Toddy, thrilled to be back in drag, replaces Victoria in a blink, to thwart Labisse and leave the way clear for a happy ending for our two loving couples: King and Victoria, and Toddy and Squash.
– Leslie Bricusse
Toddy [Carroll Todd] - the nightly singer at the club Chez Lui
Victor/Victoria Grant - a British singer
King Marchan - a nightclub owner/gangster from Chicago
Norma Cassidy - King’s girlfriend
Squash Bernstein - King’s bodyguard
Henri Labisse - proprietor of Chez Lui
André Cassell - agent/producer and nightclub owner
Sal Andretti - King’s partner of the Chicago Speakeasy
Flower Lady [Street Singer] in a Paris square (Act II, Scene 5)
Jazz Singer at Cassell’s Paris nightclub (Act I, Scene 4)
Richard Di Nardo - Toddy’s former roommate (Act I, Scenes 1 & 2; Act II, Scene 4)
Middle-Aged Actress [Simone Kallisto] (Act I, Scene 1)
Cosmetics President (Act I, Scene 1; Act II, Scene 4)
Gregor - a waiter at Chez Lui (Act I, Scene 1; Act II, Scene 4)
Choreographer at Cassell’s (Act I, Scene 3)
Miss Selmer - Cassell’s personal secretary dragon (Act I, Scene 3)
Stagehand at Cassell’s (Act I, Scene 3)
4 Reporters (Act I, Scene 3)
4 Guests [2 women & 2 men] backstage at Cassell’s (Act I, Scene 5)
Wealthy Middle-Aged Woman backstage at Cassell’s (Act I, Scene 5)
Waiter backstage at Cassell’s (Act I, Scene 5)
Policeman (Act II, Scene 4)
Clam, Sal’s henchman (Act II, Scenes 7 & 8)
Juke, Sal’s other henchman (Act II, Scenes 7 & 8)
Piano Player at Chez Lui (Act I, Scene 1; Act II, Scene 4)
Deviant Husband (Act I, Scene 1; Act II, Scene 4)
Madame Roget at Chez Lui (Act I, Scene 1; Act II, Scene 4)
Rehearsal Pianist at Cassell’s (Act I, Scene 3)
Maitre D’ at Left Bank Café (Act I, Scene 6)
Chambermaid at a Paris Hotel (Act II, Scene 3)
Gay Man at Chez Lui (Act II, Scene 4)
Dancers, “Le Jazz Hot” Musicians/Dancers, Street Passersby, Nightclub Patrons, Party Guests