Carmen Jones


Carmen Jones

Full-Length Musical, Drama  /  6w, 10m

By Oscar Hammerstein II
Based on Meilhac and Halevys adapation of Prosper Mérimée's Carmen
Music by Georges Bizet

Set in a Southern town during World War II, Oscar Hammerstein's adaptation of Carmen captures the romance and tragedy of Bizet's melodic opera with a distinctly American flavor.

Image: 2018 Classic Stage Company Production (Joan Marcus)

  • Cast Size
    Cast Size
    6w, 10m
  • Duration
    More than 120 minutes (2 hours)
  • SubGenre
    Adaptations (Literature), Period
  • Audience
    Target Audience
    Adult, Senior, Pre-Teen (Age 11 - 13), Teen (Age 14 - 18)
  • Winner! Three 1992 Olivier Awards, including Best Musical
    Winner! Four 2019 Lucille Lortel Awards, including Outstanding Revival
    Nominee: Four 2019 Drama Desk Awards, including Outstanding Revival of a Musical


In a Southern town during World War II, an army corporal named Joe is stationed near a parachute factory where Carmen Jones is employed. Fickle and flirtatious, Carmen manages to steal Joe away from his fiancée, and the army as well, and they run off to Chicago together. But Carmen loses interest in Joe when she meets and successfully woos Husky Miller, a prize fighter on his way to the top. Mad with jealousy, Joe waits for Carmen outside the stadium the night of Husky's big fight to make a last desperate plea for her love. When she denies him resolutely, he stabs her to death in a rage of passion, to the eerie accompaniment of the crowd inside the stadium cheering Husky's victory.
Carmen Jones opened at the Broadway Theatre on December 2, 1943, starrring Muriel Smith as Carmen. The production ran for 503 performances. Otto Preminger directed a film adaptation of the musical in 1954, starring Dorothy Dandridge, Harry Belafonte and Pearl Bailey. In 2018, the Classic Stage Company revived Carmen Jones, under the direction of John Doyle, with Anika Noni Rose in the title role.

Act I

In a parachute factory near a Southern town in the early 1940s, soldiers and workers shift bales of silk. A young woman named Cindy Lou arrives and asks for a serviceman named Joe, but he’s not yet on duty (“Opening Scene”).

After Cindy Lou leaves, Sergeant Brown leads a group of soldiers, including Joe, in the changing of the guard (“Lift ‘Em Up an’ Put ‘Em Down”). The foreman tells Joe he just missed Cindy Lou, and the men joke that Carmen has her eyes set on Joe, but he’s a one-woman man (“Honey Gal o’ Mine”).

The women enter and wish the aviators well (“Good Luck, Mr. Flyin’ Man”). Carmen saunters in and her coworker Sally berates her for her lateness. The men vie for Carmen’s attention, but she focuses on Joe and warns the men that loving her would be the end of them (“Dat’s Love”).

Cindy Lou returns and gives Joe a letter from his sick mother. Cindy and Joe express their sincere, chaste affection for one another (“You Talk Jus’ Like My Maw”). Joe begins to read the letter and Cindy, embarrassed, steps away. In the letter, Joe’s mother urges him to marry Cindy Lou.

Suddenly, a terrific din comes from the factory. Joe rushes in to discover Carmen and Sally viciously fighting (“Murder! Murder!”) Sergeant Brown and Joe separate the women. Brown warns Carmen that he’ll “dole out the full penalty of the law,” but she remains defiant (“You Ain’ a Police’m”). Brown sends Carmen to the guardhouse and orders Joe to take her there. While Joe restrains Carmen’s wrists with a bandanna, she continues to flirt with him (“Dat’s Love” Reprise). As Joe leads Carmen off, the other factory workers comment (“Carmen Jones Is Goin’ to Jail”).

On a rural road, Joe and Carmen chase off a group of taunting children. Carmen, claiming she twisted her ankle, rests awhile and urges Joe to let her go. She even suggests that they go out dancing together (“Dere’s A Cafe on de Corner”). Won over, Joe releases her and agrees to meet her that evening at Billy Pastor’s Café.

As Joe contemplates his planned evening with Carmen, Sergeant Brown and Cindy Lou arrive, and the children tell them what happened. Brown arrests Joe and decides to go to Billy Pastor’s Café in Joe’s place. Cindy Lou, heartbroken, sits on a rock and sobs.

A Billy Pastor’s Café, Frankie leads the crowd in a spirited dance (“Beat Out Dat Rhythm on a Drum”). Everyone settles back to their tables, including Rum Daniels, the manager of boxer Husky Miller. Rum and his friend Dink Franklin ask their girls, Frankie and Myrt, to go up to Chicago with them. Sergeant Brown enters, asking for Carmen. Husky Miller makes a grand entrance and buys drinks for everyone (“Stan’ Up an’ Fight!”).

Carmen snubs Brown and flirts with Husky, who has to leave early to abide by his training schedule. Before he leaves, Husky orders Rum and Dink to bring Carmen to Chicago the next morning.

Rum, Dinky, Frankie and Myrt urge Carmen to join them in Chicago, but she resists, saying she’s got a man she’s crazy for (“Whizzin’ Away Along de Track”). The two couples leave, again imploring Carmen to accompany them in the morning. She says she’ll think about it.

Joe appears and Carmen lights up. He gives her a box of chocolates and she dances for him, telling him how she’d been dreaming of this moment. But Joe tells her he must soon return to camp. Furious, Carmen lashes out at him and begins to flirt with another man. Joe stops her and, from the breast pocket of his shirt, takes out the faded flower she had gave him three weeks ago (“Dis Flower”). Softened by Joe’s declaration of love, Carmen urges him to run away to Chicago with her (“If You Would Only Come Away”).

Sergeant Brown enters and berates Joe, verbally and physically harassing him. When Brown escalates the abuse and propositions Carmen, Joe lifts a chair and strikes Brown in the head, knocking him unconscious. Realizing he’ll spend years in jail for assaulting a superior officer, Joe decides to desert the army and join Carmen. They drag Brown’s body behind the bar just as three soldiers arrive. Carmen tells them that Joe is leaving to train at the officers’ flying school. As they others toast to their farewell, Joe and Carmen hastily prepare to leave (“Finale of Act I”).

Act II

Two weeks later, at the Meadow Lawn Country Club on the Southside of Chicago, a genteel crowd has gathered to celebrate Husky’s upcoming fight. Carmen enters and tells Rum, Myrt and Frankie that she has finally decided to meet with Husky, who was furious to see her step off the train with Joe two weeks earlier.

Joe appears, looking out of place. Carmen implores him to return to the room where he’s been hiding. He asks her to call a taxi and pick him up on her way out so they can have a night on the town. Agreeing, she returns to the party, where Frankie, Myrt and some other women are reading fortune cards (“De Cards Don’ Lie”). Carmen, wondering what the cards say about her, draws the nine of spades (“Dat Ol’ Boy”). Believing this card portends her imminent death, Carmen vows to enjoy whatever time she has left.

A photographer from Life magazine arrives, and the crowd welcomes Husky’s opponent, who has come to pose with Husky for publicity photos (“Poncho de Panther from Brazil”). After Poncho arrives, the party resumes (“Dance Roma Suite”).

Cindy Lou arrives and tells Husky she’s come looking for Joe. Left alone, she prays for Joe to return to her (“My Joe”). Just then, Joe appears, and Cindy asks him to come home with her, but he refuses. Husky returns, and Joe and Husky begin to argue. Before their argument can escalate into a knife fight, the others run in and break them up. Cindy tells Joe his mother is dying, and he decides to return home. He forcefully attempts to bring Carmen with him, but she refuses, choosing to stay with her new man, Husky (“Finale of Scene One”).

One week later, it’s the night of the big fight (“Git Yer Program for de Big Fight”). Husky arrives and the crowd goes wild (“Dat’s Our Man!”).

Outside the arena, Joe confronts Carmen. He begs her to return to him, but she rejects him, saying she doesn’t love him anymore. Manically, Joe threatens to kill Carmen if she won’t join him. “Kill me or let me go!” she replies, throwing the dime-store ring he gave her back in his face. As the crowd chants for Husky Miller, Joe draws a knife and stabs Carmen. In the ring, Husky is declared the winner. Meanwhile, Joe keens over Carmen’s body, begging for death to reunite him with his one great love (“Finale”).

Large singing and dancing ensemble of all Black characters with several small roles, including some roles for children.

Corporal Morrel
Foreman – a Parachute factory worker
Cindy Lou – Joe’s sweetheart
Sergeant Brown
Joe – a member of the Air Force
Carmen Jones – a Parachute factory worker
Tough Kid
Frankie – Carmen’s friend
Myrt – Carmen’s friend
Rum – Husky Miller’s manager
Dink – Rum’s henchman
Husky Miller – a boxer
Soldiers (3)
Mr. Higgins – The President of The Meadow Lawn Country Club
Miss Higgins – Mr. Higgins’ daughter
Card Players
Dancing Girl
Poncho – Husky’s opponent
Dancing Boxers (2)
Bullet Head – Husky’s sparring partner

Carmen Jones was written to be performed with an all-Black cast. Author Oscar Hammerstein II made it very clear that the musical must not be performed unless an all-Black cast can be assembled. The use of make-up or prosthetics to alter an actor's ethnicity is prohibited.

Carmen Jones was written to be performed with an all-Black cast. Author Oscar Hammerstein II made it very clear that the musical must not be performed unless an all-Black cast can be assembled. The use of make-up or prosthetics to alter an actor's ethnicity is prohibited.

  • Time Period 1940s / WWII
  • Setting The American South and Chicago, 1943.
  • Features Period Costumes
  • Duration More than 120 minutes (2 hours)
  • Cautions
    • Mild Adult Themes


“Packs a terrific emotional punch… Carmen Jones has endured because of its sublime balance of memorable music and strong dramatic impetus.” — Telegraph

Carmen Jones can still be exciting... a daring piece of liberal and liberated theatre.” — Variety

“Hammerstein's lyrics are as right and renovating as his book.” — Time Magazine


  • Carmen Jones

    Image: 2018 Classic Stage Company Production (Joan Marcus)


Music Samples

1. ''Prelude'' - Orchestra
2. ''Opening Scene'' - Morrel, Cindy Lou & Male Chorus
3. ''Lift 'em Up An' Put 'em Down!'' - Street Boys
4. ''Honey Gal O' Mine'' - Male Chorus
4.1. ''Good Luck, Mr. Flyin' Man'' - Female Chorus, Singers and Dancers
5. ''Dat's Love'' - Carmen and Chorus
6. ''Joe And Cindy Lou Scene'' - Orchestra
7. ''You Talk Jus' Like My Maw'' - Joe and Cindy Lou
8. ''Murder-Murder'' - Female Chorus
8.1. ''Finale Of Scene One'' - Carmen, Joe, Brown, Sally & Chorus
9. ''Entr' Scene: "Carmen Jones Is Goin' To Jail"'' - Pit Chorus
10. ''Dere's A Cafe On De Corner'' - Carmen and Joe
11. ''Finaletto And Entr' Scene'' - Orchestra
12. ''Beat Out Dat Rhythm On A Drum'' - Frankie, Drummer, Dancer & Chorus
13. ''Stan' Up An' Fight!'' - Husky Miller and Chorus
14. ''Whizzin' Away Along De Track (Quintet)'' - Rum, Dink, Myrt, Frankie & Carmen
15. ''Carmen And Joe (Scene)'' - Orchestra
16. ''Dis Flower'' - Joe
17. ''If You Would Only Come Away (Duet)'' - Carmen and Joe
18. ''Finale Of Act One'' - Orchestra
19. ''Based On Entr' Acte Music Between Acts III & IV'' - Orchestra
20. ''De Cards Don' Lie'' - Frankie, Myrt & Female Chorus
20.1. ''Dat Ol' Boy'' - Carmen
21. ''Poncho De Panther From Brazil'' - Frankie, Myrt, Husky, Rum & Chorus
22. ''Dance Roma Suite'' - Ballet
23. ''My Joe'' - Cindy Lou
24. ''Finale Of Scene One'' - Carmen, Joe, Cindy Lou, Husky Miller, Rum, Dink, Frankie & Myrt
25. ''Git Yer Program For De Big Fight'' - Chorus
26. ''Dat's Our Man!'' - Chorus
27. ''Joe And Carmen (Scene)'' - Orchestra
28. ''Finale'' - Orchestra

Full Orchestration

Piano Vocal
Flute I (Double Piccolo)
Flute II (Double Piccolo)
Oboe I
Oboe II (Double English Horn)
Clarinet I (Bb and Ab)
Clarinet II (Bb and Ab)
Bassoon I
Bassoon II
Horn I
Horn II
Horn III
Horn IV
Trumpet I (Bb and A)
Trumpet II (Bb and A)
Trombone I
Trombone II
Trombone III
Violin I
Violin II

  • Musical Style Classic Broadway, Operetta
  • Dance Requirements Moderate
  • Vocal DemandsDifficult
  • Orchestra Size X-Large
  • Chorus Size Large

Licensing & Materials

  • Licensing fees and rental materials quoted upon application.

Music Rentals

Concord offers a full suite of resources to help you put on the show of a lifetime!
20 Chorus Vocal Book
15 Piano-Vocal
1 Flute 1
1 Flute 2
1 Oboe 1
1 Oboe 2
1 Clarinet 1 
1 Clarinet 2
1 Bassoon 1
1 Bassoon 2
1 Horn 1
1 Horn 2
1 Horn 3
1 Horn 4
1 Trumpet 1
1 Trumpet 2
1 Trombone 1 
1 Trombone 2 
1 Trombone 3
2 Percussion
1 Timpani
1 Harp
2 Violin 1
1 Violin 2
1 Viola
1 Cello
1 Bass
1 Logo Pack 
20 Chorus Vocal Book
15 Piano-Vocal
1 Logo Pack 


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Oscar Hammerstein II

Oscar Hammerstein II was born on July 12, 1895 in New York City. His father, William, was a theatre manager and for many years director of Hammerstein's Victoria, the most popular vaudeville theatre of its day. His uncle, Arthur Hammerstein, was a successful Broadway producer ...

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Georges Bizet

Georges Bizet (1838-75) was born Alexandre Cesar Leopold Bizet in Bougival near Paris, and trained at the Paris Conservatoire under the French composer Jacques Halévy. Bizet's operas include Les Pêcheurs de Perles (The Pearl Fishers, 1863), La Jolie Fille de Perth (Fair Maid ...

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