I Remember Mama

Richard Rodgers, Martin Charnin, Thomas Meehan, Raymond Jessel, John Van Druten

Full Length Musical, Comedy  /  5f, 4m, 4girl(s), 1boy(s)

Music by Richard Rodgers / Lyrics by Martin Charnin / Book by Thomas Meehan / Additional Lyrics by Raymond Jessel / Based on the play by John Van Druten

Set in San Francisco following the turn of the century, this warm and sentimental story of a Norwegian family's survival in the New World features Richard Rodgers' final score for Broadway.
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  • Cast Size
    Cast Size
    5f, 4m, 4girl(s), 1boy(s)
  • Duration
    More than 120 minutes (2 hours)
  • SubGenre
    Adaptations (Literature), Adaptations (Stage & Screen), Christmas/Holiday
  • Audience
    Target Audience
    • Appropriate for all audiences
For his final score, Richard Rodgers turned to a play he and Hammerstein had produced on Broadway 35 years earlier that had gone on to become a modern classic. Set in San Francisco following the turn of the century, this story of a Norwegian family's survival in the New World is told in retrospect by the eldest daughter, a successful writer recounting the start of her career and the childhood that inspired it. She takes us back to relive familial hardships and triumphs including the near loss of their home, Papa's desperate return to Norway when he can no longer find work, and the sale of her first story-this one. But, of course, it's Mama she remembers most of all, always guiding their precarious journey with a firm hand and a warm heart.

Remembering I Remember Mama

By Theodore S. Chapin

For generations of Americans, the words "For as long as I could remember, the house on Steiner Street had been home" have a more than familiar ring to them. They are the opening words of the Kathryn Forbes story about the Hansen family, a stalwart group of Norwegian immigrants who settled in San Francisco at the turn of the century, which has charmed readers, listeners, viewers and theater goers for over forty years.

The first story appeared in 1943 as Mama's Bank Account in the Readers' Digest. Its success prompted Miss Forbes to write other short stories about her family, which were later published as a collection. These stories were bought by RKO to be filmed, but that was not where their first dramatization was to take place.

At the urging of his daughter and wife, Richard Rodgers read Mama's Bank Account and after conferring with his partner Oscar Hammerstein II, decided to turn it into a play (the team decided to produce plays as well as the musicals for which they were famous, and Mama seemed to fit in perfectly). The play version, adapted by John Van Druten, opened in 1944—with the title that was to stick from then on: I Remember Mama. (It is interesting to note that the role of Nils was played by a newcomer by the name of Marlon Brando).

The Broadway success was followed by the George Stevens film starring Irene Dunne and by various radio presentations. On July 1, 1949, however, Mama began her longest and most fondly remembered life as the matriarch of the CBS television series. As played by Peggy Wood, Mama was to reign 8 years over those early days of television with her characteristic blend of earthy practicality and undiminishing vision of good and wholesome life in the "new" land. In 1979, I Remember Mama came full circle and opened as a bright and cheerful Broadway musical. One wonders if Richard Rodgers knew all along that he would some day compose a score for a musical version of Mama. He did and it was to be his final score. His collaborators were the team who had had an enormous success with Annie—librettist Thomas Meehan and lyricist Martin Charnin. For Rodgers, it was musical number 40 in a career which spanned 50 years

During the Broadway run of Mama, Rodgers was visited in New York by record producer Norman Newell, and at the time the composer said, "My greatest wish is for Mama to be recorded." Five years after his death, Rodgers' wish came true when Newell assembled a superlative cast to record the album for TER Records, with Broadway originators George Hearn and George S. Irving joined by Sally Ann Howes as Mama, Ann Morrison as Katrin, with cameos from such West End stars as Elizabeth Seal, Gay Soper, Patricia Routledge and Sian Phillips, and all under the musical direction of Bruce Pomahac.


Performing Groups
  • Elementary School / Primary
  • High School/Secondary
  • College Theatre / Student
  • Community Theatre
  • Dinner Theatre
  • Professional Theatre
  • Church / Religious Groups

Licence details

  • Licensing fees and rental materials quoted upon application.



  • Time Period: 1910s / WWI
  • Duration: More than 120 minutes (2 hours)
  • Features / Contains: Period Costumes


I Remember Mama takes place in San Francisco from the Spring of 1910 through the Summer of 1911.

Kitchen and Dining Room of the Hansen House on Steiner Street
The Hansen Parlor
The Hansen Kitchen
The Hospital
The Hansen Back Porch
Lobby of the Fairmont Hotel
Uncle Chris' Ranch


5f, 4m, 4girl(s), 1boy(s)
Cast Attributes
  • Roles for Children
  • Strong Role for Leading Woman (Star Vehicle)
2 Women
2 Men
4 Girls
1 Boy

3 Women
2 Men

Singing-dancing ensemble with some small roles

Aunt Trina
Aunt Jenny
Aunt Sigrid
Peter Thorkelson
Uncle Chris
Dame Sybil Fitzgibbons
Doctor Anderson


  • Musical Style: Classic Broadway
  • Dance Requirements: Moderate
  • Vocal Demands: Moderate
  • Orchestra Size: Large
  • Chorus Size: Large
1. ''Overture'' - Orchestra
2. ''I Remember Mama (Opening Act One)'' - Katrin
3. ''A Little Bit More'' - Mama, Papa, Children
4. ''A Writer Writes At Night'' - Katrin, Mama
5. ''Party Dance (Opening Scene 2)'' - Orchestra
6. ''Ev'ry Day (Comes Something Beautiful)'' - Mama, Papa, Children
6.1. ''Ev'ry Day (Dance)'' - Orchestra
7. ''You Could Not Please Me More'' - Mama, Papa
8. ''Stuffed Cabbage'' - Nils, Christine, Dagmar, Johanna
9. ''A Most Disagreeable Man'' - Jenny, Sigrid, Trina, Thorkelson
10. ''To Hospital (Underscore)'' - Orchestra
11. ''Mama Thinks Of Something'' - Orchestra
12. ''Lullaby'' - Mama
12.1. ''Opening Scene 5'' - Orchestra
13. ''Easy Come, Easy Go'' - Uncle Chris, Children
13.1. ''Easy Come, Easy Go (Dance)'' - Orchestra
14. ''Opening Scene 6'' - Orchestra
15. ''It Is Not The End Of The World'' - Papa, Children
16. ''Entr'acte'' - Orchestra
17. ''Curtain Music (Act Two)'' - Orchestra
18. ''Mama Always Makes It Better'' - Johanna, Nils, Christine, Dagmar
18.1. ''Mama Always Makes It Better (Dance)'' - Orchestra
19. ''You Could Not Please Me More (Underscore)'' - Orchestra
19.1. ''Underscore'' - Orchestra
20. ''When?'' - Mama
21. ''Opening Scene 2'' - Orchestra
22. ''Mama Always Makes It Better (Reprise)'' - Children
23. ''Fair Trade Ensemble'' - Dame Sybil, Chorus
24. ''Fair Trade'' - Mama, Dame Sybil
24.1. ''Underscore'' - Orchestra
25. ''Opening Scene 4'' - Orchestra
26. ''It's Going To Be Good To Be Gone'' - Uncle Chris, Sigrid, Trina, Jenny
27. ''Uncle Chris Dies'' - Orchestra
28. ''Transition (Scene 4 Into Scene 5)'' - Orchestra
29. ''Time'' - Mama
30. ''Opening Scene 6'' - Orchestra
31. ''You Could Not Please Me More (Reprise)'' - Papa
32. ''Finale Act Two'' - Company
33. ''Bows'' - Orchestra
34. ''Exit Music'' - Orchestra

Full Orchestration

Piano Conductor
Flute I (Doubling Piccolo)
Flute II (Doubling Piccolo)
Oboe (Doubling English Horn)
Clarinet I
Clarinet II
Bassoon (Doubling Bass Clarinet)
Horn I
Horn II
Horn III
Trumpet I
Trumpet II
Violin A (Divisi)
Violin B (Divisi)
Violin C (Divisi)
Viola (Divisi)
Cello (Divisi)


Rehearsal Resources

Music Material Rental Packages Glyphs / UI / Tooltip

Full Package:
25 Libretto Vocal
1 Piano Conductor
1 Flute I
1 Flute II
1 Oboe
1 Clarinet I
1 Clarinet II
1 Bassoon
1 Horn I
1 Horn II
1 Horn III
1 Trumpet I
1 Trumpet II
1 Trombone
1 Percussion
1 Violin A
1 Violin B
1 Violin C
1 Viola
1 Cello
1 Bass
1 Harp
1 Piano/Celeste
1 Logo Pack

Piano Only:
25 Libretto Vocal
1 Piano Conductor
1 Logo Pack

Additional Resources And Services Available



"A charming family musical... If you liked The Sound of Music and Annie, you'll love I Remember Mama!" — Houston Chronicle
"Pure, rich Rodgers... the songs burst from Rodgers' amazing fount of melody... meaty tunes that stick to the ribs... the score surges with confidence and youth and has the appealing lilt, warmth and optimism of any Rodgers musical." — San Francisco Chronicle

Music Samples



Richard Rodgers

Richard Rodgers' contribution to the musical theatre of his day was extraordinary, and his influence on the musical theatre of today and tomorrow is legendary. His career spanned more than six decades, his hits ranging from the silver screens of Hollywood to the bright lights of Broadway, London an ...

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Martin Charnin

Born in New York in 1934, Martin Charnin has had a long career in musical theater, from his early days as a performer to his later years as a composer, writer, director, and lyricist. His lyrics to the song ""Tomorrow,"" from the musical Annie, have been sung and heard across the globe. In his early day ...

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Thomas Meehan

Thomas Meehan won the 2003 Tony Award co-writing the book for HAIRSPRAY as well as the 2001 Tony Award for co-writing the book for THE PRODUCERS. He received his first Tony Award in 1977 for writing the book of ANNIE, his first Broadway show, and has since written the books for the musicals I REMEMBER MAMA, ...

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Raymond Jessel

Born in 1929, Ray Jessel hails from Cardiff, where he received his music degree from the University of Wales. He won a scholarship to study composition for a year in Paris as a graduate student with Arthur Honegger. He emigrated to Canada, where he began his career as an orchestrator/composer for CBC radio an ...

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John Van Druten

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