Wonderful Town

A TAMS-WITMARK TITLE

Full Length Musical, Comedy  /  2f, 4m

Book by Joseph Fields and Jerome Chodorov / (Based upon the play My Sister Eileen by Joseph Fields and Jerome Chodorov and the stories by Ruth McKenney) / Music by Leonard Bernstein / Lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green / Sketches for 'What A Waste' by Betty Comden and Adolph Green

Based on the hit play and film My Sister Eileen, Wonderful Town tells the comical and heartwarming story of two Midwestern sisters, newly arrived in New York.

Photo: Paul Kolnik

Wonderful Town
License Estimator

Use this tool for cost estimates based on your specific needs.

OVERVIEW

  • Cast Size
    Cast Size
    2f, 4m
  • Duration
    Duration
    More than 120 minutes (2 hours)
  • SubGenre
    Subgenre
    Adaptations (Stage & Screen), Period, Romantic Comedy
  • Audience
    Target Audience
    • Appropriate for all audiences
Accolades
Accolades
  • Winner! Five 1953 Tony Awards, including Best Musical
    Winner! 1953 New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Musical
    Winner! 1953 Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Musical
    Winner! Theatre World Award (Edith Adams)
    Winner! 2004 Tony Award for Best Choreography
    Winner! Two 2004 Drama Desk Awards
    Winner! 2004 Theatre World Award (Jennifer Westfeldt)
Description
In the summer of 1935, Ruth, an aspiring writer, and Eileen, an actress and dancer, leave rural Ohio to seek success in the big city. Due to their limited budget, the sisters wind up sharing a less-than ideal basement apartment in Greenwich Village. Together and individually, they pursue their dreams, overcome heartbreak, encounter a motley assortment of colorful characters, and - ultimately - find love. The Tony Award-winning Best Musical features a thrilling score by Leonard Bernstein with lyrics by Comden & Green. Highlights include “Ohio,” “Conga,” “One Hundred Easy Ways” and “Wrong Note Rag.”
History
Wonderful Town opened on Broadway at the Winter Garden Theatre on February 25, 1953, starring Rosalind Russell as Ruth and Edith Adams as Eileen. The production ran for 559 performances. The show was revived on Broadway in 2003 at the Al Hirshfeld Theatre, starring Donna Murphy and Jennifer Westfeldt. Brooke Shields later replaced Ms. Murphy, and the production ran for 497 performances.

Act I

In the summer of 1935, a tour guide leads a group of sightseers through Greenwich Village, a Bohemian neighborhood teeming with colorful residents ("Christopher Street").

Ruth Sherwood, a witty and forthright journalist, enters with her younger sister, Eileen. The two have just arrived from Columbus, Ohio, determined to forge a life in New York City; Ruth hopes to be a writer and Eileen an actress. They rent a modest basement apartment, recently vacated by coquettish Violet and overseen by the temperamental and artistic landlord, Mr. Appopolous. The sisters soon discover two of the apartment’s many drawbacks: a steady stream of visits from Violet’s “gentlemen callers” and a relentless blasting from nearby subway construction. On their first night in the new apartment, Ruth and Eileen long for the simple quiet of home ("Ohio").

The next morning, the sisters set out (“Conquering New York”), but they meet with little success. Eileen, at least, earns the attention of several gentlemen, including Frank Lippencott, a local Walgreens manager who has developed a crush on her. Ruth marvels at her sister's magnetic appeal and laments her own failure in romance — Ruth’s talent for repelling men is so successful she could write a book ("One Hundred Easy Ways to Lose a Man").

Eventually, Ruth talks her way into the offices of a short story magazine, where she meets Bob Baker. Bob likes Ruth but tells her she has little chance of success in New York; considering the competition, she’d have been better off staying home (“What a Waste”). Undaunted, Ruth leaves three stories with Bob and vows to return.

Eileen, who has been eating all of her lunches free at Walgreens, finds herself infatuated with Frank (“A Little Bit in Love”). She invites him over to dinner so Ruth can have free lunches when she goes to Walgreens, too. Bob arrives at the apartment, looking for Ruth, and Eileen invites him over for dinner as well. The phone rings; it’s Chick Clark, a predatory newspaper editor whom Eileen met in an elevator, calling for Eileen.

The upstairs neighbors, an out-of-season American football player named Wreck and his live-in girlfriend Helen, ask the girls to hide Wreck during a visit from Helen's mother, Mrs. Ella Wade. Apparently, Mrs. Wade doesn’t know her unmarried daughter is cohabitating with a man. Eileen happily agrees to stow Wreck in their apartment, much to Ruth's hesitation. Wreck describes his lucky history as a student at Trenton Tech, where he survived thanks to his athletic ability (“Pass the Football”).

Eileen has invited Frank Lippencott, Bob Baker, and Chick Clark over for a potluck supper. Unaware of each other's feelings, both women find themselves attracted to Bob. Soon, all five of them are seated around the cramped apartment trying to fill the awkward silence (“Conversation Piece”). Meanwhile, Helen deals with her overbearing and exaggerated mother.

Ruth and Bob talk over the quality of her stories, and he advises her to write about what she knows rather than flights of fancy. Both say several wrong things, and he finally tells her off. Ruth rushes inside in tears, and Bob is overcome with remorse (“A Quiet Girl”).

Chick Clark, anxious to be alone with Eileen, creates a bogus assignment for Ruth. He sends her off to the Brooklyn Navy Yard to interview a group of Brazilian navy cadets. Ruth rushes to Brooklyn and quickly realizes the cadets’ sole interest is to sing and dance (“Conga!”). The sailors follow Ruth home, wreaking havoc as all the citizens of Christopher Street join the conga line. Ruth runs into Bob and gives him a piece of her mind, and Eileen is hauled off to jail for causing the riot.

Act II

In the local jail, Eileen finds herself practically running the place, with Officer Lonigan and his brigade of doting Irish police officers at her beck and call. Convinced that she’s Irish, the policemen serenade her (“My Darlin' Eileen”). Ruth arrives and assures Eileen that she’ll bail her out with money from her new job; she’s now a promoter for the Village Vortex, a local nightclub.

At the club, Ruth digs the rhythm of the music (“Swing”). Meanwhile, Wreck awkwardly masquerades as a wealthy art collector to meet the approval of Helen's mother, and Chick keeps calling Eileen, trying to make things right.

Thanks to Bob, Eileen is soon released from jail. The sisters learn that Appopolous was so scandalized by Eileen's arrest and the theft of a picture he painted (which Helen and Wreck actually stole and sold for $2 to pay for Wreck’s stay at the Y) that he has threatened to evict them. Eileen discovers that Ruth is also attracted to Bob Baker, and the two of them wish, for a moment, that they had never left home (“Ohio” Reprise).

Eileen’s fame reaches the front page of the news. The rhythmical Speedy Valenti, owner of the Village Vortex, hires Eileen to sing at the club. Appopolous, thrilled that one of his tenants has a paying job, extends their lease.

Eileen learns that Bob Baker quit his job after disagreeing with his boss about Ruth's story on the Brazilian sailors. Eileen, thrilled that Bob quit his job, helps Bob acknowledge his feelings for Ruth (“It's Love” Reprise).

At the Vortex, a repentant Chick presents Ruth with a press pass; his boss loved her story about the Brazilian sailors and has offered her a job, starting the following Monday. Just before she goes out onstage, Eileen is overcome with stage fright. She convinces Ruth to join her, and the sisters lead everyone in a spirited sing-along (“Wrong Note Rag”). Eileen is a hit! As she takes her encore, Bob finally lets Ruth know how he feels, and the entire company joins in to celebrate (“Finale: It’s Love”).

Considerations

Performing Groups
  • High School/Secondary
  • College Theatre / Student
  • Community Theatre
  • Dinner Theatre
  • Professional Theatre
  • Church / Religious Groups
  • Youth/Camp Programs

Licence details

  • Licensing fees and rental materials quoted upon application.

Specifics

Details

  • Time Period: 1930s
  • Duration: More than 120 minutes (2 hours)
  • Setting: Greenwich Village, New York City. 1935.
  • Features / Contains: Period Costumes

Casting

2f, 4m
Cast Attributes
  • Expandable casting
  • Strong Role for Leading Woman (Star Vehicle)

Principals

Eileen - Ruth’s sister, a recent arrival from Ohio
Ruth - Eileen’s sister, a recent arrival from Ohio
Robert Baker - editor at the Manhatter
Wreck - former college football player
Chick Clark - newspaperman
Frank Lippencott - manager of the local drug store

Supporting

Tour Guide - shows tourists around Greenwich Village
Mr. Appopolous - modern painter; Ruth’s and Eileen’s landlord
Helen - Wreck’s girlfriend
Mrs. Wade - Helen’s mother
First Associate Editor - fellow employee at the Manhatter
Second Associate Editor - fellow employee at the ManhatterViolet - villager
Officer Lonigan (John) - neighborhood cop
Speedy Valenti - proprietor of the Village Vortex

Others

Modern Dancers - villagers
A Radical Villager
A Yogi Villager
A Strange Man (Fletcher) - Villager
A Kid - villager
Two Drunks - villagers
Eskimo Pie Man - villager
Mr. Mallory, Rexford, Danny, Woman Guest, Trent, Male Guest - characters in Ruth’s stories
Chef - the cook at Nino’s, a local restaurant
Waiter - employee at Nino’s
Delivery Boy - villager
Shore Patrolman - guard at the Brooklyn Navy Yard
First Cadet - Brazilian naval officer
Second Cadet - Brazilian naval officer
Timothy, Dennis, Dan, Pat, Fifth Cop - policemen at the Village Station House
Man With Sign (Ruth’s Escort) - advertising the Village Vortex
Tourists, Greenwich Villagers, New York City Crowds, Characters in Ruth’s Stories, Brazilian Cadets, Policemen, Hepcats, Village Vortex Patrons

Music

  • Musical Style: Classic Broadway, Jazz
  • Dance Requirements: Moderate
  • Vocal Demands: Moderate
  • Orchestra Size: Large
  • Chorus Size: Medium

Act I

1. Overture – Orchestra
2. “Christopher Street” – Guide, Tourists, and Villagers
2a. Christopher Street Exit – Guide
2b. Change to Scene 2 – Villagers
3. “Ohio” – Ruth & Eileen
4. “Conquering New York” – Ruth, Eileen & Chorus of New Yorkers
5. “One Hundred Easy Ways To Lose A Man” – Ruth
5a. One Hundred Easy Ways Scene Change – Orchestra
6. “What a Waste” – Ruth, Baker & Editors
6a. Waste Utility – Orchestra
7. “Ruth’s Stories” – Baker, Ruth
8. “A Little Bit In Love” – Eileen
8a. Reprise: “A Little Bit In Love” – Eileen
9. “Pass The Football” – Wreck
9a. Football Exit – Orchestra
10. “Conversation Piece” – Frank, Eileen, Ruth, Chick & Baker
11. “A Quiet Girl” – Baker & Men’s Chorus
11a. “Quiet Ruth” – Ruth
11b. Scene change – Orchestra
12. “Conga” – Ruth & Brazilian Cadets
12a. Conga Change of Scene – Orchestra
12b. Conga Reprise (Finale, Act One) – Orchestra

Act II

13. Entr’acte – Orchestra
13a. Opening Act Two – Orchestra
14. “My Darlin’ Eileen” – Policemen & Eileen
14a. Scene Change – Orchestra
15. “Swing” – Ruth & Village Hepcats
15a. Swing Change of Scene – Orchestra
16. Quiet Incidental – Orchestra
16a. “Ohio” Reprise – Ruth & Eileen
16b. Change of Scene – Orchestra
17. “It’s Love” – Eileen, Baker & Villagers
18. Ballet at the Village Vortex
19. “It’s Love” Reprise (Finale, Act One) – Eileen, Baker, Ruth & Entire Company
20. Bow Music – Orchestra
21. Exit Music – Orchestra

(22 books; 27 players)

2 Violin I (4 players)

2 Violin II (3 players)
1 Viola (2 players)
1 Cello (2 players)
1 Bass

1 Reed I: Flute, Bb Clarinet, Eb Clarinet (or Flute) & Alto Saxophone
1 Reed II: Clarinet, Bass Clarinet, Alto Saxophone & Baritone Saxophone
1 Reed III: Oboe, English Horn (or Clarinet), Clarinet & Tenor Saxophone
1 Reed IV: Piccolo, Flute, Clarinet & Tenor Saxophone
1 Reed V: Clarinet, Alto Saxophone, Bass Saxophone (or Baritone Saxophone) & Bassoon

2 Trumpet I & II
2 Trumpet III & IV
2 Trombone I & II (both Tenor Trombone)
1 Trombone III (Bass Trombone)

1 Piano/Celeste

1 Percussion I: Traps, Snare Drum, Bass Drum, Tom-Toms, Timbales, Hi-Hat, Suspended Cymbal
1 Percussion II: Tam Tam, Triangle, 2 Woodblocks, Xylophone, Alarm Clock, Cowbell, Glockenspiel

Piano/Conductor’s Score included with rehearsal material.

Materials

Scripts

Rehearsal Resources

Music Material Rental Packages Glyphs / UI / Tooltip

Full Package:

Rehearsal Materials

2 Piano/Conductor Scores
20 Libretto/Vocal Books

Orchestration
(22 books; 27 players)

2 Violin I (4 players)
2 Violin II (3 players)
1 Viola (2 players)
1 Cello (2 players)
1 Bass

1 Reed I: Flute, Bb Clarinet, Eb Clarinet (or Flute) & Alto Saxophone
1 Reed II: Clarinet, Bass Clarinet, Alto Saxophone & Baritone Saxophone
1 Reed III: Oboe, English Horn (or Clarinet), Clarinet & Tenor Saxophone
1 Reed IV: Piccolo, Flute, Clarinet & Tenor Saxophone
1 Reed V: Clarinet, Alto Saxophone, Bass Saxophone (or Baritone Saxophone) & Bassoon

2 Trumpet I & II
2 Trumpet III & IV
2 Trombone I & II (both Tenor Trombone)
1 Trombone III (Bass Trombone)

1 Piano/Celeste

1 Percussion I: Traps, Snare Drum, Bass Drum, Tom-Toms, Timbales, Hi-Hat, Suspended Cymbal
1 Percussion II: Tam Tam, Triangle, 2 Woodblocks, Xylophone, Alarm Clock, Cowbell, Glockenspiel

Piano/Conductor’s Score included with rehearsal material.

Media

Music Samples

Photos

  • Wonderful Town

    Credit: Paul Kolnik

  • Wonderful Town

    Credit: Paul Kolnik

More

Authors

Joseph Fields

Joseph Fields (1895-1966) was the son of actor, producer and theatre owner Lew Fields (who launched Rodgers & Hart's professional career in 1919) and the brother of Herbert and Dorothy Fields (co-librettists of Annie Get Your Gun, among many other credits). Joseph Fields served in the A.E.F. during Worl ...

View full profile

Jerome Chodorov

Jerome Chodorov (1911-2004) began his career in Hollywood in the 1930s writing B movies for Republic Pictures. It was there he met his collaborator of 30 years, Joseph Fields. Their best known Broadway plays included: My Sister Eileen, directed by George S. Kaufman (1940), Junior Miss (1941), the T ...

View full profile
Author

Ruth McKenney

Leonard Bernstein

Composer, conductor, pianist, teacher, thinker, and adventurous spirit, Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990) transformed the way Americans and people everywhere hear and appreciate music. Bernstein's successes as a composer ranged from the Broadway stage - West Side Story, On the Town, Wonderful Town, and Cand ...

View full profile

Betty Comden

Betty Comden (1917-2006) was an award-winning screenwriter, librettist and lyricist, co-writing with her longtime creative partner, Adolph Green. Comden and Green had a groundbreaking partnership of over 60 years, winning Tony Awards for their lyrics and/or librettos for Applause, Wonderful Town, Hallelujah Baby ...

View full profile

Adolph Green

Adolph Green (1914-2002) was an award-winning screenwriter, librettist and lyricist, co-writing with his longtime creative partner, Betty Comden. Comden and Green had a groundbreaking partnership of over 60 years, winning Tony Awards for their lyrics and/or librettos for Applause, Wonderful Town, Hallelujah Baby ...

View full profile

Now Playing

Community Experiences